Life Through the Lens: Heinrich van den Berg

01 February 2018

Heinrich van den Berg is an accomplished nature and travel photographer. His award winning work has been featured in numerous prestigious publications around the world. He has photographed extensively in Zambia, visiting the Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and Liuwa Plain with Time + Tide. Read on to gain insight into the thought and passion that goes into crafting each photograph.

The Mind of a Photographer

How did photography first capture your heart?

I grew up loving wildlife photography and every free minute I had I went to national parks and game reserves to photograph. For me there is no better way to spend time.

What does photography mean to you personally?

Photography for me a source of happiness. When I am in a bad mood, all I have to do is take a few good photographs. It is like a drug that can cure many things. Photography for me is a mixture of sport and art.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I often look at internationally acclaimed photographers’ work, like Sebastiao Salgado, Frans Lanting, Jim Brandenburg, etc. But I have often been in the situation where I look at some amateur’s creative photography while being on the same vehicle photographing the same thing, and thinking how did I not see that photograph? You can get inspiration from anywhere. I like paging through books and magazines, because it teaches you to plan you photographs instead of merely taking them.

What is your favorite place for wildlife photography and why?

The wilder the place the better. Some my favourites include Liuwa Plain and the Lower Zambezi in Zambia, the Kalahari Desert and any semi-desert on the western side of southern Africa, the Okavango Delta and Madagascar.

What are your favorite subjects for wildlife photography and why?

I love leopards. They are photogenic even in the worst possible lighting conditions. It doesn’t matter how many leopards I photograph, they still inspire me every time.


What does Zambia offer as a photographic destination?

Zambia is wild. When you are there it kind of takes a few days to realize how far away you are from civilization. I have been at Chongwe and Liuwa Plain for 8 days during which time I didn’t see any other tourism vehicle during our game drives. That is incredible in today’s world. In the Masai Mara you have hundreds of vehicles at a cheetah sighting. At Liuwa Plain you have the plains just for yourself.

I love everything about Zambia. The people and the incredible landscapes – flying over the country one realizes how wild and unique the country is. Zambia to me is any wildlife photographer’s dream.

What are your most memorable moments from your Zambian safari?

We saw a hyena clan run down a wildebeest calf on the Liuwa Plain. Just to see that drama and excitement with no other people around was for me the highlight.


What role do you think wildlife photography plays in today's conservation efforts?

You can’t conserve something you don’t love and you can’t love something you don’t know about. So for me photography is a way of revealing the beauty and value of wildlife. This can go a long way in making people aware of the importance of conserving it.

What do you hope to convey with your photographs?

I like to show the artistic side of wildlife. There are many action photographers out there that are really good, but for me wildlife photography is a way of creating art. The ideal is to be able to evoke the entire spectrum of emotions in a viewer, including awe, humour, fear, maternal instinct, etc. Like in a good play, you need to show a variety of images evoking a variety of emotions.

Why do you value photography as a storytelling tool?

Today’s world is a visual world. People don’t have time to read, so to tell a story with photographs is one of the most powerful mediums out there. And the difference between still photography and movies, is that still photography can capture the artistic part of the story as well as the beauty of the scenery much better than what movies can, while being able to tell a story at the same time.

To see more of Heinrich's work, please visit his website. If you would like to join him on a guided photographic safari, he and Isak Pretorius are hosting The Ultimate Predator and Tusker Photo Safari from 15 - 23 May 2018 in Zambia. Enquire about joining here.

All photos here were taken by Heinrich van den Berg for Time + Tide in the Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and Liuwa Plain.