Digital Photo Safari

I’ve been a digital travel photographer for a long time, which is why some of my friends jokingly call me the "Godfather of Photography." One thing I’ve learned over the years: It’s not easy having fun. Yes, digital travel photography is fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work—especially when you go to remote locations.

In this article, I’ll share with you some of the important things I’ve learned about traveling on a photo safari with a digital camera. I’ll use some of my favorite pictures from several photo safaris to Africa. All of these tips apply to digital travel photography, in general, and some even apply to a one-day photo safari to a local wildlife park.

PLANNING: Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Canon 100-400mm IS lens


Well in advance of your tip, do Google searches on everything you can think of—weather, health precautions, carry-on restrictions, local customs, the political situation and photo opportunities. Advance planning equals fewer surprises on site.

Speaking of the weather, an important consideration is whether to make your trip during the dry or rainy season. Many photographers like to travel in the dry season, when the sky is clear and when sunsets and sunrises are spectacular, but stormy weather also can work to your advantage. I took the opening picture for this article in Kenya’s Masai Mara during the beginning of the rainy season, and it’s one of my favorite safari pictures. Without the rain clouds, and with a clear blue sky, the picture would have lacked drama.

At the peak of the dry season, I photographed a bull elephant silhouetted against a setting sun in Botswana. Here, it was the dust and the cloudless sky that added to the impact of the photograph.

Carefully consider the time of year, and know that it’s sometimes harder to get good pictures in strong, direct sunlight than it is when the sky is overcast; on sunny days, strong shadows and high contrast make it harder to get good exposures.


I try to "tell the story" of a location. Of course, you can do this by photographing many different subjects. You also can do this by varying your perspective from close-up to wide-angle.

Leave a Comment