Life Through the Lens: Andrew Macdonald

09 February 2018

A passionate wildlife photographer, Andrew Macdonald originally hails from Scotland, but has found his life's passion in the African bush. With a background in safari guiding, he brings a unique appreciation of the wilderness to every photograph he creates. A Time + Tide partner, he has spent months photographing our diverse destinations, beautifully capturing the essence of each one. Read on to gain a deeper understanding of how he brings together his knowledge and love of nature in each photograph. 


How did photography first capture your heart?

I can always remember being obsessed with the National Geographic magazines that would be lying around the house. I was really young and of course, I was only interested in the pictures. I can remember being fascinated by what was out there.

What does photography mean to you personally?

It’s all about putting your own stamp on a moment in time and 99.9% of the time that moment will never repeat itself. I love how it drags me out of bed way before sunrise, it takes me up mountains on cold winter days and keeps me out well after dark.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw my inspiration from everyday life. I am always online or looking through magazines gaining inspiration from images I see. For a long time now I have seen my daily life in photographs. It doesn't really matter where I am or what situation I am in. I will say to myself 'There is a picture there, another one there...if I come back at a certain time I could get an image there...that moment between those two people was a nice image.' I'm always thinking and visualising photographs. 


What is your favourite destination for wildlife photography?

So far, without doubt, it’s Zambia.

Why is Zambia such a special destination to you?

Zambia offers so much. In general, the geographical differences between places like the Lower Zambezi, Liuwa Plain and South Luangwa are so diverse and the wildlife sightings are some of the best I have ever seen. But for me personally, Zambia is where it’s all kicking off for me big time with my work for Time + Tide. It all came from putting myself out there to follow my passion. It’s a special place for me. 

What are your most memorable experiences in Zambia?

Almost every day is memorable in some way or another. Photographing the Lady Liuwa lion pride was very special. In four weeks we never saw another vehicle there. Also in Liuwa, I was lying on my stomach to get a low-to-the-ground perspective when a curious hyena approached to within just a couple of metres - it was amazing! Every destination offers something different. In the Lower Zambezi I had a quite unforgettable wild dog and elephant encounter, and in the South Luangwa a relaxed leopard walked just a couple of metres past my side. I could go on and on!

Which animals are your favourite to photograph on safari and why?

That’s a difficult one to answer. It really depends on the animal's behaviour at the time. Elephants are always a joy to photograph but I’m also a big fan of the predators, when they aren’t sleeping! It was a pleasure to spend so much time with Lady Liuwa after learning her amazing story. (Read more about Andrew's time with Lady here)

You've extensively explored Zambia already. Where else would you go for your ultimate photography expedition?

The list is too long. I would love to be involved in an anti-poaching campaign. Really getting into the action to show the difficulty and risks faced by the anti-poachers. Photographing gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees would be great. I also hope to travel to Tonga in 2019 to photograph the humpback whale migration. It looks incredible.


How do you view the role of photography in conservation?

Photography plays a huge part in conservation. It doesn’t have to be a disturbing image of a mutilated rhino (but I do believe that these images are important). I think people need to be shocked into realising just what is going on and how bad the situation is.

It can be more subtle and inspirational too. A beautiful image of an elephant or even a stunning landscape may entice someone to book their safari trip. This generates money that goes back to conservation and as they learn about and grow to love the animals, they form a connection and hopefully start supporting wildlife conservation.

How do you inspire people with your photographs?

I take a huge variety of images. I would say that with my wildlife and safari photography, I am hoping to show Africa at its best to boost tourism, which, as I previously mentioned, spreads a passion for conservation.

With my landscape photography I want to draw people into the images so that they can almost feel the elements within the image. The cold on their face, the spray from the sea, the sun on their backs.

Mostly I want to make people sit up and think 'I want to go there' and to the people that can’t travel I hope I can bring the world to them through my images.

To put it simply, images are powerful. A single picture can grab someone’s attention and stay with them for a lifetime.

To see more of Andrew's work, check out his website H E R E.