Em Gatland has a unique way of looking at the wild world around her and her unwavering passion shines through in the work she produces. Em’s photos reflect the true spirit of Africa, an Africa that is filled with emotion, passion, turbulence and warm heartedness. Anyone can take a photo, but injecting emotion into each shot truly reflects a person that knows how to own the lens.
Em has a knack of photographing neglected moments – the ones we miss. She always puts a quirky spin on her subject. Whether it be a herd of elephants or a lone cheetah; her creativity knows no bounds. Lines, motion, colour and the stark reality of her surrounds create an ethereal beauty which she so magically captures through her lens.
Em is one of the Sun Destination’s photographers, a photographer we decided to track while she was going about her day-to-day snapping in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, one of her favourite reserves.
Our talented videographer, Kevin MacLaughlin, followed Em as she traversed her way through the Klaserie. He filmed her every move and she in turn documented the wild. Our writing team decided that they also wanted to know more about Em and delved into the heart of what makes her tick.
We hope you enjoy this interview and epic video collaboration between lens legends Kev and Em!
1. We’ve done our research and you’re quite the action sports photographer. How did you find your way into wildlife photography?
I enjoy anything outdoors, my passion lies in open spaces and nature is truly one of earth’s greatest gifts to be treasured. I have always had a close connection with wildlife and my desire to share to the world and the raw beauty of Africa is why I love to be in the bush photographing wildlife.
2. We’ve noticed an exceptional amount of creativity and unique angles in your photos. What do you look for when taking the perfect photograph?
I look for something that tells a story, to depict the relationships in nature that are similar to humans. I strive to achieve the unknown. I am always on the search for new angles. To create a still that hasn’t been produced before is the biggest challenge. Creativity comes with time, practice and most importantly passion – both for your subject and the love of photography.
3. How would you describe your style?
I would say it is story telling, creative and fresh. I like to use various out the box methods of motion, freezing a frame and pushing settings to new levels to create a different feel. I enjoy showcasing wildlife in a different light; yet having it remain true to its character.
4. Tell us about your camera and software editing equipment…
I use two camera bodies, one that is of high shutter speed, full frame and excellent in low level light. My second body is a crop sensor to gain extra zoom on lenses and a little lighter on the cost side.
My lenses include a variety from very wide 16mm to a 500mm zoom. Its always important to have a wide angle which can be great in landscape visuals. On the post production side I LOVE Adobe Lightroom. This is a form of Photoshop, but is also file management system.
You can often shoot nothing less then 3000 images a day and Lightroom helps to process the files and has all that one needs in terms of creative editing, Taking a photo is 50% of the job and post production is where the exciting magic can also take place!
5. What is your favourite time of day to photograph wildlife?
I love what most photographers know as the “Golden Hour”. This takes place early dawn and at sunset. To catch something significant in this light really makes the heart skip and jump.
6. What is your favourite species to photograph?
I absolutely adore elephants. They are constantly mobile and have amazing detail in lines and texture. To top it off, they have an incredible interaction between family members.
7. What is your dream scenario to photograph?
This is a tough one. I have often dreamed of a rainbow in open plains with game in the foreground. But I love the smaller creatures too – an owl in a full moon would be a prize choice.
The Klaserie Camps to me are the “real Africa”. Their unfenced luxury and sophisticated feel create an atmosphere that creeps under the skin and makes you long to come back for more. The staff, guides and wildlife all combine to make it a truly luxurious safari experience. I have been visiting the Klaserie camps for two and a half years now and hope to make it many more in the future.
9. If you could travel anywhere to photograph just about anything, what would it be?
I would love to visit East Africa for the migration and the majestic gorillas of the Congo to experience their connection of love and humbleness.
10. And finally, where can we find your photographs ?
I am a big fan of Instagram and this is where I share a lot of my final pics and a few behind the scenes photos. I also have a FaceBook page and enjoy sharing the beauty of the wild there, and of course you can find plenty of my work on the Sun Destinations Facebook page. My social media handle is @emgatland and I look forward to connecting with you there.