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Jason spent his childhood in Namibia and went from hunting wildlife with bows and arrows to developing a deep respect for nature in later years. Today he owns a photographic safari company based in the US. We asked him some questions on how he got started and what his photographic inspirations are.
On your web page, I see you grew up in northern Namibia. What made you move from Namibia to Norway?
Yes, I lived half of my life in northern Namibia. I am someone who believes very strongly in the importance of education. I went to Norway to further my studies. I was lucky to get a scholarship to do a master’s degree in applied ecology. After my studies, I moved back to Namibia, and I recently moved to the US.
What got you interested in wildlife photography?
I’ve had a passion for wildlife since I was a child. My father had a small black and white television when I was a kid. I was addicted to one program where they showed birds and nature. I can’t remember the name of the program. That is one of my strongest childhood memories. Wildlife photography is just something I started 2 years ago.
How did you get from aspiring photographer to someone with a business in the photography niche?
Haha- I can’t say I am in the business photography niche yet. Wildlife photography was a hobby to me. The business photography niche is something I am busy developing. I believe we can inspire others through photography. Since I am a Namibian and I know Namibia and other SADC countries very well, I decided to establish a tour group company that will take small groups of photographers from anywhere in the world to show them exactly where to find wildlife in nature in Namibia. Through my previous job in Namibia and research in Botswana, I got to spend countless hours in the parks, learning exactly how and where to spot different animals.
Are there any photographers who influenced you, and in what way?
When I was in Norway (that was 6 years ago), I used to watch this guy called Steffen Johnsen talking and presenting his very good bird and nature photos. I started communicating with him after I moved back to Namibia. I asked for his recommendations about camera gear for amateurs. I never attended any classes in school about photography. I am self-taught and learned everything I know through Youtube and online free books about photography. I also communicated with some famous photographers like Arthur Morris, Kristofer Rowe and Robert Otoole. I have friends who are also photographers who inspire me and talk about photography with me, too.
Additionally, I am married to a very smart wife. She inspired and encouraged me to do what I love to do with wildlife. She is also a writer. She wrote 3 children’s books so far using my wildlife images and she still plans to do more. I hope she will publish them soon.
How do you manage to capture your subject on film in just the way you want? I.e. tell us a bit about your strategy or style?
I am sure every photographer knows that you should be patient enough when it comes to wildlife photography. There are a few things I always do before I go out to photograph wildlife. I research about my subject’s behaviors. Especially when I am in Namibia, I know exactly where I’m likely to find lions, when they are active, etc. Knowing your subject is very important. I like watching other photographers’ work and seeing what kind of images are striking to them. I am most interested in capturing the natural behaviors of the animal due to my background in wildlife ecology.
Some advice you could get from photographers is that you should go in the morning and late afternoon because of harsh light during the day. Me- I shoot anytime as long as there is a light. I shoot in the rain, I shoot even when it is extremely hot.
How does America weigh up to Africa as wildlife photography destination?
My wife would note that I miss the excitement and abundance of African wildlife. Where we live in the US at the moment, there is no “big game” and capturing even the small animals and birds here requires a level of dedication and patience that can be truly challenging, and occasionally monotonous. I can go days in the parks around where we live without finding many subjects. The US is large with a great variety of landscapes, so I hope to travel to other parts of the country and experience a greater variety of wildlife than I can capture in my current location. Alaska is supposed to be a wildlife photographer’s dream, so I am looking forward to visiting there some day.
If money was no concern, where in the world would you prefer to make your home?
Namibia, the Land of the Brave.
What equipment do you use?
I don’t have a lot of gear, but I do have 600mm F4 ii USM often coupled with a 1.4x Canon teleconverter, 100-400mm F4-5.6 IS, 100-200mm f 2.8 ii, 24-70mm F2.8 ii USM, tripod with gimbal head but I hardly use it. I own two camera bodies, 1DX Mark ii and 7D Mark ii.
Jason’s website: www.jasonkandume.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OwenJasonKandume/