Insights behind the image – Wildlife photography Q&A

January 6, 2012

Andy GoochAndy Gooch came to Uganda during a self-confessed mid-life crisis. It was then that he picked up a camera for the first time since his childhood and rediscovered his love of photography. Ever since then he has been trying to capture East Africa’s beautiful wildlife through his lens, with great results. His shots reflect his love of all animals, however strange or unwordly looking. We spent some time with Andy and interviewed him about his passions – wildlife, photography and Uganda.

What was your initial inspiration to become a photographer?

I was given a ‘Box Brownie’ camera when I was about 10 years old, but my pictures were rubbish. A few years later I saved up my paper round money and bought an SLR. The bug stayed with me into adult life, but I found I had less and less time to indulge my passion as the pressures of a career in sales & marketing took hold.

Photograph by Andy GoochBy the time I came to Uganda I had not picked up a camera properly for a good few years. But I was lucky enough to get a job based in Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve on the shores of Lake Albert. My role involved a lot of driving across the Reserve’s grassy plains filled with wildlife, and I could not bear to spend any time there without taking up photography again. So I invested in a decent digital camera, kept it on my passenger seat and would stop whenever I saw something interesting.

What do you love about Uganda?

Photography by Andy GoochThe people, the scenery and the wildlife. It is such a beautiful country and most people walk around with a big smile on their face. Ugandans are naturally so warm and kind as people – I have lots of friends here. My favourite parts of Uganda for wildlife photography are the Northern parks and game reserves, like Murchison Falls National Park and Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve. It’s my dream to travel to Kidepo Valley National Park to document the amazing wildlife and scenery there.

Describe some of the projects you’re working on…

"Uganda - The beauty and some beasts" by Andy GoochI published ‘Uganda – The Beauty and some Beasts’ in 2010 – a glossy coffee table book featuring some of my best work from across the country. After its success I wanted to take the opportunity to focus on more specific species from the region. So I am currently working on a book about primates, based on my images of the numerous different species of primates in Uganda and Rwanda, from the famous Mountain Gorillas to the lesser known Golden Monkeys.

I have other book concepts that are in various stages of completion – from one about birds of the region to another about the River Nile’s passage through Uganda.

What is the intention behind your work?

Photograph by Andy GoochI want to reflect the beauty of Uganda with its great scenery, smiling people and abundant wildlife. It’s one of the most biodiverse areas on this planet, and incredibly beautiful in its rich variety of habitats and game, and I want my books to provide a visual testament to this. With Lonely Planet voting the country the no 1 destination for 2012, and NatGeo voting the Virungas in the south west as one of the top ten trips of a lifetime, it feels like I’m not alone in my feelings. It’s a very special place.

How many photos have you taken in Uganda?

I recently calculated that I have taken around 60,000 pictures in the last six years living in Uganda. But most of those are of empty branches where a bird was sat only moments before. So I’ve deleted most of them and remain with a collection a tenth of that size.

What are your tips for budding wildlife photographers to get the best out of their shots?

Photograph by Andy GoochWildlife photography is a game of patience and opportunism. You might need to spend days driving around the bush or sitting under a tree waiting for something to happen. So be patient. But a perfect shot may just ‘happen’ and you need to be ready to click that shutter. Often you will be looking for a particular subject and something else will come along – or something totally unexpected will occur. That’s the nature of wild animals – they are never predictable.

‘Uganda – The Beauty and some Beasts’ can be bought at the departures bookshop in Entebbe International Airport. It is also sold in Aristoc and Banana Boat outlets in Kampala as well as in several lodges around Uganda. Look out for Andy’s other books, ‘Mountain Gorillas’ (available with captions in several different languages) and ‘East African Birds’, which will be available in all good bookshops in the region from sometime in June 2012.

Posted by Anne-Marie Weeden

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