Photography on Safari

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Stephanie Hunt in Resources.

For most people an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience, so you want to make sure that your photographs capture the special moments.

We don’t claim to be photography experts, but we have spent untold hours behind a camera in Africa.  Having taken some “Wow!” shots and had our share of photographic disasters, we feel qualified to provide some photographic tips.


Camera and Lens Choice

You will regret coming to Africa without a DSLR and a long lens.  At least a 300mm lens, preferably a 400mm, is essential for photographing wildlife.  If you are tossing up whether to upgrade your camera body or buy a zoom lens – go with the zoom.

Changing lenses in the field is likely to result in a dusty sensor – which can be a problem for the remainder of the trip.  If you want to use a standard and a long lens you might want to consider two bodies.



You will be amazed by how many photos you take, so be sure you have enough memory.  You could need anywhere from 50GM to 100GB for a 2 week trip.  If you’re shooting video, that could go as high as 500GB.  Consider bringing a small portable hard drive.

It’s a good idea to spread your risk by using a few small memory cards, rather than one or two huge cards.  Organise cards in a dust resistant wallet.


Back Up

We are a bit paranoid about back up, having seen too many of our clients lose their precious memories.

If you are bringing you laptop then consider bringing a portable hard drive as well.  Every evening download your photos onto your laptop and external hard drive.

If space and weight are a worry then consider Google portable photo storage devices or back up flash memory cards.

Even once you’ve backed up, don’t erase or format your memory cards unless you are completely out of space.  Keep your memory cards on you at all times and your backup copy in another location.



If your camera relies on disposable batteries, be aware that these can be hard to come by in Africa and bring plenty of extras.

If your batteries are rechargeable, consider bring a car charger and ask your guide to charge your batteries while on a game drive.

If you are travelling with multiple devices, we suggest a travel power strip so you can charge multiple devices with a single adaptor.


Photographic Etiquette

Be respectful of wildlife.  Don’t use a flash at a waterhole at night or when visiting the gorillas or chimps in dense forest.

Some people in Africa still have religious issues with being photographed.  Please be courteous and ask before you take a picture.


And Our Big Final Tip….

Come out from behind the camera!  There is so much to be photographed in Africa that sometimes we forget to just experience the place.