Interview with Wildlife Photographer Mario Moreno
Have you ever had to put yourself in harm’s way to get the perfect shot?
A few times. I specially recall the one image of a rhino at sunrise. I had to get out of my vehicle and lie down on the ground dangerously close to get the composition I wanted.
What would you say is your favorite location for wildlife photography?
The Okavango Delta in Botswana has to be at the top of the list. Stunning scenery and an incredible amount and variety of animal species.
A dramatic sunset on the Okavango Delta as seen from Pom Pom Camp, our first 3 day stop of our photographic expedition to explore the wonders of Botswana.
A Hippo suddenly emerging from the calm waters with a big yawn. Image taken at the hippo pool close to Pom Pom Camp in the Okavango Delta.
What were some of the biggest mistakes you made when you first started getting into wildlife photography?
Not being patient enough at a sighting. This is the key to many good shots. You must wait and wait and eventually something magical always happens.
Are there any animals on your wish list that you have yet to see?
Never seen a Pangolin or an Ardvaark but then there are a few that I have seen but have not been able to photograph like a Honey Badger, a Porcupine or a Bush Baby.
Facilitating African photographic safaris sounds like such an amazing experience! Can you tell us more about it?
This is being paid for the one thing I enjoy the most. Being out in the African Bush. After traveling extensively around Africa I thought that I could use this knowledge and experience to organize photographic expeditions for other photographers that are eager to discover the best places for wildlife and landscape photography. So I picked my favorite destinations and designed itineraries that show the best that these destinations have to offer.
A young male Lion yawns. Image taken during a recent private tailor made photo tour to Kruger, South Africa.
A Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) running across a flooded area in the Moremi Game Reserve, the heart of the Okavango in Botswana. What I like about this image is that it seems that the small oxpecker is chasing the big giraffe when in fact it was running away from me and my camera.
A lone male Buffalo grazing on the open plains of Central Kruger in South Africa. Image was taken during our last photo tour to this part of South African wilderness.
How important is it to study animal behavior prior to going on a photographic safari?
It is really important to do some research on the animal species that you can encounter during your photographic safari as this will help you understand the animal’s habits and therefore be able to anticipate their actions so that you can get the best possible shot.
Can you tell us about your most memorable experiences in the field?
An overland self drive trip I did from Cape Town To Victoria Falls has to be at the top of the list. I visited some of the most fascinating places in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia but if I have pick one moment. Sun rising behind the Baines Baobabs in Nxai Pan National Park, campfire, cup of hot tee and a huge Bull Elephant right behind me enjoying the scene that was unfolding before us. Truly memorable!
When people hear “wildlife photography” they think zoom lenses and telephoto lenses. What are some of your must-have lenses?
- 16-35mm f2.8
- 70-200mm f2.8
- 300mm f2.8
- 1.4 Extender – 2.0 Extender
For those with the extra cash I would recommend a 400mm f2.8 and for those that are on a tight budget but cannot afford to invest in so many lenses and don’t want to miss out on photo opportunities, the affordable Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 paired with a 24-70mm f2.8 will do wonders. These two lenses are actually part of my kit.
Please give us an idea of what a day on your African photography safaris is like.
It usually starts before sunrise with a cup of hot coffee. You want to be out when the sun starts rising and painting the bush with magical colors. Game drives will take around 4 hours but there is never an exact time and always depends on what we encounter. After the morning drive a hearty breakfast will get you back on track. Then there is time to relax in the camp or review and comment on images captured in the morning session until it’s time for lunch.
In the afternoon another game drive is planned to capture more “Perfect Moments” in golden light, enjoy a sundowner in a stunning location before returning back to camp after the sun goes down to be welcomed by a fantastic dinner around a campfire.
South Cape Images specializes in African Photographic Safaris that are conceived for small groups of photographers of all levels. We design our safaris to guarantee exceptional photographic opportunities and a True African Safari Experience. Capturing “Perfect Moments” is our goal and as expert wildlife and landscape photographers we will make sure that you return home with the images you pursue. However, being able to indulge in the african wilderness is just as important and this is why we only use exclusive lodges and mobile tented camps that guarantee seclusion away from the tourist crowds and that meet your every need when returning from your photo sessions. Non-photographer partners will enjoy our safaris just as much.
Do you have any tips for photographers who wish to get into the same line of work as you?
I would say go for it but be prepared to do a lot of traveling to remote areas, sometimes alone, sometimes not so alone, tough situations at times, heat, cold, lots of animals, no animals. But isn’t this what makes it special ? It sure is.
About Mario Moreno
Joined The Planet in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 17th of May 1965. I spent my childhood in this country until the age of 12. It was then when my parents decided to leave the country and return to Spain in search of new opportunities for the family. The city of Malaga was going to be the place of choice where I would live for some time.
Interest in photography began at the age of 18 thanks to a Yashica 2000 Super. This camera, many books and magazines would allow me to submerge in the world of photography using self-tuition as my main tool. Serious photography would only start in the 90’s, participating in local contests and exhibitions but specially thanks to my many trips all over the world and a strong need to transmit my emotions and share visual moments in such intense countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Morocco, South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania to name a few. It was from this moment on and with help from the recently introduced digital format that I would turn my passion into a creative profession, which had always been my dream.
I lived two exciting years in Cumbuco, a small fishing village in the northeastern state of Ceara in Brazil. I enjoyed this wonderful place along with my wife Alexandra and children Noah and Yannick. Cumbuco happens to be one of the best Kiteboarding destinations in the world, a fact that worked to my advantage as it helped me develop my skills in Kiteboarding Photography achieving numerous cover shots in many International magazines.
In 2006 I moved to South Africa where my family grew thanks to my son Khai. This new stage as far as photography goes is focused on the African continent concentrating in my true passions which are wildlife, landscape and travel photography. Since my arrival in this amazing continent I have extensively explored Kruger, Kgalagadi and Karoo in South Africa, the Kalahari and Okavango in Botswana, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya.
Some of my clients over the past 12 years include Canon ( Europe, Africa & Middle East ), Sony BMG ( Spain ), Kiteboarding Magazine ( USA & Germany ), Wild ( South Africa ), Travel Africa ( UK ) to name a few .
My wildlife and landscape work has been internationally awarded and over the past three years several images have been selected as finalists in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
I constantly travel around the African continent in search of that “ Perfect Moment “ . . . .
To see more of Mario’s work, visit his website, 500px portfolio and Facebook page. Those interested in learning more about his African Photographic Safaris click on the following link South Cape Images.