Renowned ‘Big Cat Diaries’ presenter Jonathan Scott gives his top tips for amateur photographers

Jonathan Scott has made quite a big impression on the wildlife conservation movement locally through his work in the Maasai Mara and globally through the National Geographic show ‘Big Cat Diaries.’

The zoologist, photographer, and conversationist shared his thoughts on the increased interest in photography among the youth, and more importantly how to grow one’s craft as an amateur. Scott spoke to Capital FM during a workshop for Canon Cameras yesterday (25.06.2019) about the need to build on skills while starting with the basics.

Jonathan Scott gave his top tips for making it big for Kenya’s budding photographers:

1. Start small

Scott recommended that it is important to take a step up from the camera phone to grow one’s skill as a photographer. However, in improving one’s craft it is important to start with the basics first. Scott said,

“it is important to start small…being a photographer is learning to see. If you have a camera which is usable, which you don’t have to reach into your rucksack, you don’t have to put a whopping great telephoto lens on, you can start to see the joy of taking pictures, of creating your story, your narrative, recording your journey with something that is not terribly costly.”

2. Do not limit your creativity

As a growing artist, perspective and skill are key factors that could set you apart. Commenting on the need to mix still images and video, Scott urges young photographers not to limit the medium with which they choose to tell their story. He went on to explain, “do not limit yourself to the still image. Include moving images as well, so you can document your life’s journey.”

3. Tell a story

A master storyteller, Jonathan Scott has lived in Kenya’s remote conservancy since 1977. Known for his major role in spreading the word on the endangered species in the Maasai Mara, particularly the big cats (lions, cheetah, leopard). and his work to shine a light on the lives of these wonderful creatures. Speaking about creating a narrative, Scott admits that as a photographer it is an essential element for success, capturing an audience in whichever medium, still and or moving images. He said, “The challenge is how to go from just clicking and taking snapshots to create images that have a message”

4. Add value to your images 

In a day and age when everyone has a smartphone with a camera in their pocket, a story and engaging imagery separated the weed from the chaff, when it comes to amateur photography. Speaking about his legacy, Scott told Capital FM, “Our role is to inspire the next generation of  storytellers and show them how the power of photography can make a difference.” When asked what could help elevate one’s images Scott responded,” its no good just going out and pressing the button, you need to participate in the process and have a vision in your mind.” He pointed out that a good photograph to me has more details than the naked eye could see.”

Jonathan Scott has devoted his life to wildlife conservation and capturing big cats in the habits. Recounting what spurred his love for Kenya’s big cats, he goes back to a childhood memory that he holds dear. In an interview with Travel Africa Magazine Scott said, ” I have always loved the countryside and nature. As a child, I watched the wildlife TV series ‘On Safari with Armand and Michaela Denis. I was mesmerized by Africa, and the thought of living among wild creatures was my dream. My favorite day of the year was when we visited my Auntie Florence in London. She would take us to the zoo in Regents Park, with the leopard my favorite big cat even then.
I was fortunate to always know my ‘bliss’ – my pathway to happiness. It was to live in the moment and explore wild places. The movie ‘Born Free’ (1966) had me sitting in the cinema thinking: “That is what I want to do: live in the bush and watch big cats”. “

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