Although I have posted this up here in my 500px portfolio before, I thought I'd share it again, seeing as it was recently announced that “The Explosion!” has won first place in the Nature Category and had also been chosen as the Grand Prize Winner of the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest, something of a milestone along the path of my professional wildlife photography career!
Life does come with it's little ironies though: For all the money I've invested to date travelling around national parks here in Thailand, over in Malaysia, Borneo, South Africa, and Madagascar looking to capture compelling images of animals in the wild, this winning image of the beautiful Indochinese Tigress, named Busaba, I captured at my home-away-from-home, Khao Kheow Open Zoo, about 30 minutes away from where we live ;^)
As it happens, while I know some photographers feel that pictures of captive animals are inferior to photos captured of animals in the wild, as wonderful as it is to see animals in their natural habitat, I've always thought this is a ridiculous way to think. A Tiger, for example, in captivity is every bit as awesome and amazing as a Tiger in the wild; what I attempt to capture in my images is something of my subject's character and personality, as I believe it is these sort of engaging images that will have others feeling more of a connection with each individual subject, and perhaps for some people that connection will raise their levels of compassion enough to act on feelings that may eventually play some part in protecting and conserving the most vulnerable of Mother Nature's gifts.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, as wonderful as “wild” animal photography can be - and if you ever have the opportunity to go, say, on an African safari you really, really should - until such a dream opportunity comes along don't feel in any way disadvantaged because the only alternative you may have is to photograph captive animals. If you love animals and have a strong desire to capture engaging images of your favourites, find a place that cares well for their animals and invest as much time as you can getting to know your subjects and in honing your photographic skills.
A couple of years ago I decided to pursue some of my childhood aspirations, and ever since then I've been realising more and more of them to the point where they've become the life that I'm living. If I have one wish for all of you in the year ahead it's that you too remember some of your dreams, take action on them and, come this time next year, that you'll be a lot closer or, better still, actually engaging in them; make your life a pursuit of your dreams, the rewards are truly amazing!
Wishing you all a great weekend and a wonderful year ahead :^)