What do you hope to achieve with your work, and what are your ambitions for the future?
"A personal goal of mine is to capture photographs of all the animals I'm yet to encounter, especially pandas in China and jaguars in Brazil. The goal of my work is to connect humans with animals – to amaze them with their beauty and, in turn, educate them about the threats they face. Social media is a great way for me to spread my message, so developing my channels and growing my follower base is very important to me. My audience inspires me to improve my content, and I enjoy interacting with my followers online. I know I'm doing my job properly when somebody comments, 'Through your content I travel with my mind'."
What are the biggest challenges when shooting in remote locations, or endangered species?
"Jungle conditions don't appeal to everyone – the weather can be very uncomfortable and trekking through dense bush is challenging. Then there are the snakes, spiders and biting insects, which can't be avoided. Aside from the environment, finding endangered animals is very difficult. I know how to track animals and use local knowledge to increase my chances of finding them, but I'm not always successful. I recently travelled to Ecuador to photograph native jaguars and returned without seeing one. When I am lucky enough to find the animals I'm searching for, it's not always possible to get into the right position to take the shots I want to take. I need to prepare for every eventuality, which is why I always bring my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM for animals that are further away, and my Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM and Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lenses for when I'm able to get a bit closer."
How long does it take to establish a bond with animals?
"Once I make contact, I only give myself an hour to photograph because I don't want to disturb them too much. They're wild animals and need to stay that way. There are certain techniques I've learned for bonding quickly with primates in particular. For example, lowland gorillas in Cameroon have such little contact with humans that they often assume we pose a threat. When I made contact with them, I ate leaves as I approached quietly to show that I was a vegetarian, and not there to hunt them. I also made a deep grumble sound to say hello. I didn't approach fully until I heard a grumble back and therefore knew it was safe for me to stay. Gorillas tend to look away from humans when they're making noise, so after the initial greeting I stayed as quiet as possible to encourage the eye contact that you can see in my photos."
What work are you most proud of, and why?
"In 2021, I put on a very special exhibition called Wild in the City. I printed 30 of my favourite images of primates – including mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in Uganda and Rwanda, lowland gorillas in Cameroon, and orangutans in Sumatra – and displayed them in a tropical greenhouse in Paris. I wanted to share the feelings I had when encountering these animals with the people of Paris who most likely won't be able to get the same opportunity in the wild. By bringing the people close to these incredible animals, I hoped to create a bond and encourage empathy. These apes are very close to us but will soon disappear if we don't act to prevent poaching, deforestation and climate change."