AWE by Greg du Toit, Wildlife Photogapher of the Year 2013 – Truly inspirational!

During October 2013 Greg du Toit, a fellow South African, was crowned as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The competition is internationally recoqnized as “the Oscars” of wildlife photography and many seasoned professionals and amateur photographers can still just dream about that “one day”…
Many other South African photographers also walked away as winners in the various categories to make our country proud. They include Andrew Schoeman, Wim van den Heever, Isak Pretorius, Hannes Lochner and Peter Delaney.

Even before the award ceremony, Greg and his publisher was tying the last loose ends to get his first coffee table book, AWE (African Wildlife Exposed), printed and published. Little did Greg know that the publication of his book will coincide almost exactly with the announcement that he has won the most prestigious award for a wildlife photographer today!

iPhone image by Jono Buffey

I had the privilege of meeting Greg at the launch of his book last week. Greg gave a short presentation of his journey as wildlife photographer over the last decade or so and shared some of the stories behind his images. What an inspiration it was! Many of us, including myself as an amateur photographer, loose sight of what we want to achieve with our photography, especially as we do not “get out there” as as often as the professional guys – Well, needless to say… I AM MORE MOTIVATED THAN EVER BEFORE!

Unfortunately, the one thing that I also understood in context for the first time, is that a great wildlife image does not find its way to your memory card every day by pure coincidence or by a strike of good old fashioned luck, even if you have the most expensive top of the range equipment (which I do not have) – Greg spent 270  hours over a period of 16 months, submerged in a waterhole in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, to capture only a hand full of images! Yes, lucky shots do come at times, but the special ones are those that were created by patience, dedication and the desire to achieve more than just the norm.
Wildlife photography is about experiencing the majestic wonder of nature, to capture the moment of that experience, and to be able to share it with the world with the full knowledge that as photographers, we also have an obligation towards the conservation of our natural heritage!
The following quote has been written and published by Greg on his Facebook Page and he invited all to share it:-
     “The conservation value of a wildlife photograph might at first glance be subtle, but remember it is human nature to protect that which we love and appreciate. It is in our DNA, we do not need to be taught this. Every time a special wildlife photo is shared, an appreciation and love for wildlife increases. Eventually it will grow to a point where people will simply refuse to let these animals disappear…” – Greg du Toit 2013

You can purchase a copy of Greg’s book AWE by visiting his website. Trust me, it is all worth it! Not only does it contain awesome images, but it is accompanied by journal entries about his experiences and as to where and how some of the images were taken.Inspiration can sometimes come from the strangest of places at the strangest of times…!