Coming from a career in guiding and lodge management, Matt Armstrong now owns Armstrong Safaris, which hosts photographic safaris throughout the wildest corners of Africa. With a deep love of sharing his passion for photography with every guest, he has found his calling. Often hosting safaris in Time + Tide's Zambian camps, he counts the South Luangwa as one of the wildest photographic destinations in all of Africa.
How did photography first capture your heart?
I was first captured by photography on a family safari when I was 14 years old. It was the very last days of film and I did not have a DSLR. That would come later. But from that first safari and my first time photographing African wildlife I was hooked.
What does photography mean to you personally?
Photography is a way for me to document wildlife as it should be, wild and free. Photography allows me to do this as well as expressing my artistic/creative side.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
Nature. There is so much beauty and art within nature that it really isn’t difficult to get inspired when you are in the bush.
What is your favorite place for wildlife photography and why?
South Luangwa National Park in late October when it is at its hottest and driest. I have yet to discover a place and time where the balance of life and death is so fine. With the river being the only source of water and all the herbivores being drawn to it, it is paradise for the predators and those who want to see them in action. It really is a true representation of nature in its rawest form.
What are you favorite subjects for wildlife photography and why?
Lion. I find they have so much emotion in their eyes and that is what really captures me and draws me to them. They are also highly sociable animals and I love watching the interactions between the pride members and seeing the way they work together to hunt blows my mind.
What is your dream photographic expedition?
South Luangwa and Mana Pools. I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in both destinations and nowhere else offers a more intimate wildlife experience as well as offering wonderful photographic opportunities. Although, that might change after my February trip to Liuwa Plain...
Why is Zambia a special photographic destination to you personally?
I feel my relationship with Zambia is a lot more personal and intimate than most other photographers as I lived and worked in South Luangwa for a number of years as a guide. So, for me, whenever I visit Zambia for a safari it feels like I’m coming home.
Why do you choose Zambia for the photographic safaris you host?
Zambia is one of the few places in Africa where you can have incredible sightings with no other vehicles around except yours. It has the highest density of game I have yet to come across and the lowest concentration of tourists. That combination is what makes it so special for me.
What are the most memorable moments from your time in Zambia?
My most memorable moment from my time spent in Zambia is a sighting of a male lion and buffalo. The lion had attempted to bring down a buffalo by himself and the fight between the two lasted for just under an hour. The sighting took place North of Time + Tide Mchenja camp, on the Mwamba River.
The most memorable moment from my most recent visit to the South Luangwa was a sighting out of Time + Tide Chinzombo. We came across a young female leopard. She appeared to be stalking a puku but broke cover very early and began to run in the direction of the puku. The puku obviously took flight but the leopard was very interested in something on the ground where the puku had been standing. All of a sudden, a group of hyena appeared and the leopard picked up a newly born puku calf that could only have been minutes old. She took the calf up a nearby tree and began feeding on it.
What role do you think wildlife photographers play in today’s conservation efforts?
I think it brings awareness to people who would otherwise have no interest or knowledge about the natural world and the dangers it is currently facing. With the power of social media, it makes people think about conservation and opens up their minds to the beauty of the natural world and hopefully will inspire them to get involved in preserving it.
What do you hope to convey with your photographs to your viewers?
I hope to portray the beauty of the natural world and give a true indication of the lives of the subjects I photograph. With the hope that it will inspire people to see it for themselves or at the very least help raise awareness. I hope it inspires my viewers to engage in the protection of wildlife and the environment.
What emotions do you hope to evoke with your photography?
I hope my images will move people in a way that they gain an appreciation of nature’s beauty and move them to take some ownership of the natural world. Hopefully moving them in such a way that they will want to help protect what wildlife we have remaining.
Why do you value photography as a storytelling tool?
I’ll use that old cliché, “A picture tells a thousand words.” By looking at an image for a few seconds people can become captivated and moved. In today’s society where it seems that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, glancing at an image can capture people’s attention and get them to take notice of what you are trying to say far better that any words can.
To see more of Matt's work or learn more about booking your own Zambian photographic safari, check out his website H E R E.