In the month of March, Londolozi is showcasing some of our best photography and photographers alike. This five-part blog series will take readers behind some stunning imagery and discuss how the shot came to be. The episodes will delve into the stories behind images and the people who capture them. In this process, we’ll be highlighting some tips and tricks that we hope will inspire you when capturing imagery of your own.
Episode 3 of our series will look at the distinctive work of marketing manager Amanda Ritchie. Her connection to and understanding of people runs deep. As a qualified life coach, she understands the human landscape. Amanda has spent a lot of time in wild landscapes too so her placement of people within them is quite brilliant. Her photography creates ‘that special feeling’.
Nature in People
In 202o/2021 Londolozi ran a campaign titled Nature Reunion. So that people all over the world could stay connected to the nature within them. Amanda’s images formed the root of that storytelling. She captured various images of the Londolozi family, but it was the image of ranger Jess Shillaw that truly moved her.
At Taylor’s dam, just behind the dam wall, grows an ancient knobbly fig tree. From its branches a strangler fig drapes its roots creating a shaded amphitheatre. Amanda had selected this scene to capture Jess’ images and sets the scene intricately.
In this moment, Jess’ connection to the old fig off Taylor’s dam was tangible. As she took her shoes off the light was perfect, I adjusted my settings quickly to capture the sun flaring through the tree and took the shot.
The image is beautiful in its simplicity. And most important to me is the moment it captures, Jess in nature where she loves to be. You can feel the connection she has to this ancient fig tree.
I interpret the feeling that it conveys as a deep, uncomplicated connection to nature.
Painting a photographic perspective
Instinctual in her perspective, Amanda feeds off emotion and that guides her photography. An ability to holistically understand photography allows her to construct atmosphere in a moment. Bringing people out of their shells, or moving them in a way that creates a genuine interaction captured in an image. Amanda takes this genuine moment and constructs it into a scene that helps layer the moment with meaning. These are skills that have been moulded over many years.
I get excited about the quality of light, the way that shadows fall and lengthen and how a certain scene makes me feel. So, anything from a beautiful landscape, the sun setting through a tree or the way an animal moves through the grass. They all get my finger tingling over the shutter button.
I am an ‘in the moment’ kind of photographer. I work very much off gut feeling, instinct, and the energy of the shot. If it’s right, I shoot it. Which is not to say that I am inconsiderate in my style. I think I have been lucky enough to hone my craft over the years and know exactly what feeling I want the shot to convey for my audience.
My love lies in cementing pure, simple moments in time. Capturing people when they are uncomplicated and honest in their being. My joy stems from how that shot makes a person feel, about themselves or others.
I value authenticity, it dictates the nature of my photography. I hope that the stamp that I am leaving on the photography world is a catalogue of true, authentic moments that capture people, places, and animals in their truest form.
The convergence of work and passion
It took many years for Amanda to figure out what exactly it was that she was looking for in a career. Through studying, internships, waitressing, teaching horse riding, a career in big corporate advertising agencies, coaching CrossFit, and owning her own business, she eventually took the leap and followed the call to adventure when she swapped city life for wide-open spaces.
I am one of the lucky ones, I have my dream job. I moved to the bush and realized that a creative and extremely diverse job where I could live and be in nature every day was what I wanted. And something that incorporated my love for photography into my daily role was a huge bonus and something that has allowed me to practice, play and experiment with loads of different formats of photography and editing.
The wilderness is where my wild self feels most alive and where I feel most creative. So, I think that this wild setting allows me to really connect with the feeling of each shot in such a pure way. This connection opens a window into the souls of others. A good photograph can really transport someone to the moment the shutter closed.
I know that photography is a gateway to connection with others around the world. Both into the minds and hearts of the person who saw and made the photograph. And the souls of those who deeply connect with that vision. It’s an art form that really connects us. And it’s fun!
I love nothing more than to help people in our Londolozi family and all over the world to connect them with my home and my place of work, our community felt through my photographs. Being in nature, going out into the wilderness, appreciating all the secrets found in stillness, feeling the expansiveness of this place, and feeling deeply connected to myself through it all.
What are my tricks of the trade?
Having summed up her photographic perspective, Amanda imparted some of her tips to pursue these shots. Unlike our gadget guy, Chris Kane-Berman, Amanda prefers to simplify her tech and delve into a momentary feeling. And she wants to do so unhindered by too many devices. This split-second moment takes practice to capture, and the instinct gained from many years of photography.
Know the camera you are using, know how to change the settings quickly. Small moments can be won or lost in the time it takes to adjust the aperture, ISO or shutter speed.
I shoot in a very lean way. I don’t take a lot of gear with me and this allows me to be fluid. To move with my subjects in a natural, unhurried and uncomplicated way.
Have your audience in mind for every shot:
- Ask what it is that you want to share with your viewer?
- What do you want the person to feel when they experience your photograph?
- Where do you want that person to go when viewing it?
That has always been the most important thing for my photography.
I always look for an opportunity for a flare. Closing the aperture right down and shooting a light source through a tree or from behind another object creates a magical feeling. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it does produce some wonderful results.
And finally, don’t overcomplicate things! Trust your eye and shoot the raw moment that lies in front of you. Often it will be the perfect shot, simply because it’s true.
People connected to nature: closing remarks
Amanda Ritchie, in our photography episode 3, encapsulates emotion in photography. She fits her marketing manager role like a glove and knows her audience inside and out. These unique skills blend intricately with her understanding of the photographic elements. And what emerges in Amanda’s photography is a tangible feeling, a pure connection, unbounded enjoyment, and an illimitable sense of wonder.
Next up in the series we’ll have a look at the photography of Rob Crankshaw analysing wide and narrow. Rob is a member of Londolozi’s land care and habitat team he has a deep understanding of the lay of the land. His landscape photography is immaculately presented, and riddled with narrative. His preparation for these shots can take days. On the other end of the scope he has a deep passion for macro photography and brings the smaller side of life into new-found detail. I look forward to continuing our photographic journey next week!
Learn more about Photographic Safari
At Londolozi, wildlife photography holds an important place. We use it as a way to reconnect with nature, with the animals that inhabit the Game Reserve with us. This is why this article isn’t the only one we written in this photography series. If ever you want to learn more about wildlife photography, please feel free to consult:
- Photography Series episode 1: The Ranger’s eye
- Photography Series Episode 2: Generations through the lens – Londolozi Blog
- Photography Series Episode 4 – Country and Critters
- Photography Series Episode 5: Londolozi’s Eye
If you want to know what wildlife photography is at Londolozi, check out our Photographic Safari experience page! Or find our what our ranger Nick Simms had to say about his experiences in photography