Learn about what led me to pursue my passions and land my dream job working on a conservancy in Zimbabwe.
Interestingly, when I talk to other conservationists and photographers, there always seems to be a defining moment that led them to pursue their passions. Whether it was a memorable family holiday, a certain documentary or a person that inspired them, something led them to follow their dreams.
For me however, it was a little different. I can't remember a time when pursuing a career in wildlife conservation wasn't an option. It is all I have known and all I have focused on. Of course, a lot has changed from my childhood years of digging up worms, catching and IDing butterflies and hunting for natural treasures along the UK's coastlines, however one thing has remained the same. Curiosity. I have never stopped wanting to know more about our natural world. I have an inquisitive nature that burns inside of me, if I see something incredible I have to know what species it is, why is it doing that and how is it doing that? I think having that child-like inquisitive nature is extremely important in all walks of life and whatever line of work you are in. Never stop learning.
Although there wasn't a "defining moment" for me entering the world of wildlife conservation, travel definitely stimulated my interests.
I am extremely fortunate to have been able to travel extensively and from an early age we would often go away as a family. I really believe that travel gave me the confidence to explore opportunities anywhere in the world and without it, I would have never worked in some of the incredible places I have.
With an innate interest in wildlife, Zoology was the natural choice and I went on to study Zoology at Aberystwyth University in West Wales.
Going to university was one of the best decisions I have ever made and not purely from an academic point of view. I learnt a lot of life lessons, made some invaluable connections and most importantly discovered my style of learning. There was a brilliant practical side to the course at Aberystwyth and it was in these sessions that I really excelled. Whatever I did after university, it had to be hands on and it had to be outdoors.
Long before I ever picked up a camera, every Christmas I would ask for the latest wildlife books and I was therefore exposed to some of the best wildlife photography on the planet. My love for photography only started before a trip to Namibia in 2016. I had dreamt of visiting the world renowned Etosha National Park and so I bought my first camera before that trip so I could capture all the action I was inevitably going to see. Unfortunately being a complete novice and by doing an embarrassingly little amount of research, I bought a camera with a fixed focal length (I think it was a 20mm lens) which was no where near long enough to zoom in and capture wildlife images like I had seen in my books. Of course this was hilarious for my friends who were also on the trip. Every time we saw an animal off in the distance they would ask me to zoom in with my camera to tell them what it was knowing full well that I had no chance. I left that trip with a few photos of elephants so far away that they could have been anything however I also left having caught the photography bug.
I was hooked and although I didn't have the right equipment to capture wildlife, it forced me to look at the technical aspects of photography and I started to experiment with ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Rather than just shooting on Auto, this trip forced me to learn the basics of photography which was the perfect foundation to build on. I often wonder where I would be if I hadn't bought the "wrong" camera.
Photography is now a huge part of my life and fits in perfectly with my passion for wildlife conservation. In today's fast paced digital era it is really difficult to push a conservation message without a visual hook. When coupled with hard hitting conservation story telling, photography can be the most powerful tool in our arsenal to fight for a cleaner, greener