Q&A with photographer Richard du Toit
Richard du Toit has been a professional wildlife and nature photographer since 1995 and has travelled widely throughout southern Africa and Kenya. Along the way he has published five books, including his sought-after Africa: Bird's Eye View, a selection of incredible wildlife images shot from helicopters, aeroplanes and anything at all that allowed him to get his perfect shot.
In addition to spectacular aerial photography, his black and white images capture the essence of his time in the bush as well as his love for nature.
His work has appeared in various publications, including Nature's Best, BBC Wildlife and National Geographic. He won first place in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 1995 (mammal behaviour) and 1997 (portraits). And in the 2007 Nature's Best Photography International Awards competition, he won the overall Grand Prize with his remarkable image of zebra in the Makgadikgadi.
We managed to pin him down, between assignments, for a quick Q&A session:
How did you get started in photography?
As a kid I was really interested in birds, and photography was my other main interest. Cameras were not common in those days and I didn't even have one. I learnt the basics of photography from books and only took my first photos some years later. When I bought my first camera I was hooked. At first it was all Kodachrome 64. I can remember posting off the rolls in the yellow envelope supplied by Kodak and the mounted slides would arrive a few weeks later.
What inspires you about South Africa (in terms of being a photographer)?
For any nature photographer, South Africa's varied wilderness areas and parks are a great inspiration: interesting and photogenic creatures and subjects abound. The parks are well run, and unlike most of Africa, here you can undertake your own self-drive safari even in the smallest vehicle.
Explain your passion for aerial photograph
Aerial photography is fast, hectic and exhilarating. About 10 years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to do many hours flying over the Okavango and Kenya in a helicopter to photograph wildlife and wild places from the sky. I have always loved the sense of freedom flying in small planes and helicopters – you cover so much ground so quickly.
Why do you love black and white as a medium for photography?
For most of my career I have used film, only changing to digital five years ago. While digital makes photography so much easier, film still has a special soul of its own. Many of my images were shot on very slow film, and they work really well in black and white. They are grainy and textured and have a certain mojo. I make limited-edition fine art prints – and the ones that work best are from my film images.
What are you working on at the moment?
In recent years I have photographed much of South Africa from the sky, but there are still a few parts of the country I need to work, which is an ongoing project for me.
- All images in this blog are the copyright of Richard du Toit. To find out more, visit: www.richarddutoit.com.