How Wildlife Photographers can Learn from Diane Arbus


Diane Arbus’ name is often associated with photographs of the strange and abnormal. And this approach of hers is the learning point for photographers in general and wildlife photographers in particular. Watch out for the “strange and abnormal”. For wildlife photography courses in the Masai Mara, photographic safaris and team building photographic safaris in South Africa and activities at all other safari destinations does that mean that you should train your eye in scanning the surroundings when driving on a game vehicle.

One often wonders how the ranger could see that animal in the tree or in the deep grass, but his/her eye is trained to see what is not supposed to be there, the strange and the abnormal. That can be a movement, a color or an object that breaks the pattern of the grass and well, the animal is spotted.

The same principle applies to wildlife photography (and any other photography). When you are on a game drive and you think the light is dull and there is nothing to see, start searching for the abnormal and strange. Your eye will adjust to this mode, which is comparable to the eye test one has to do at the eye doctor where you look at a picture with often dots in different colors and by changing the way you look at it you see different objects in it. Do the same when you look out over the Great Plains of the Masai Mara and start seeing things like contrast in grass going over in different colors of the horizon or patterns on the road or in the clouds and animals you did not notice before.

Try it and by looking out for the abnormal you will suddenly find wonderful subjects for your photography, even when you think there is nothing.

Happy watching!

Ute Sonnenberg for