Lance van de Vyver
A long standing customer with us, we've seen Lance progress from his Canon 350D right through to his current, extensive list of gear. Fresh out of study, Lance works as a Field Guide in Hoedspruit, South Africa, where he is able to be right in the thick of South African wildlife, taking award winning images, and carrying enough gear to break any normal persons back!
Where are you based?
I am originally from the small town of Levin in the Manawatu. I am currently based in South Africa in an even smaller town called Hoedspruit. I live in the Balule Game reserve, working as a field guide for Toro Yaka Bush Lodge.
When did you first pick up a camera and what was it?
The first time I picked up a camera was in 2006 during my first year of my Zoology at Massey University. It was a Canon 350D, I loved it. I was doing a lot of work on insects at the time, and the thought of photographing them really pushed me into buying a camera.
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
I'm not too sure if I have a "style" of photography. There are lots of photographers out there who have a very unique style of their own and they stick to that. They are often photographers who specialize in one subject, weddings etc. I however tend to shoot almost everything. I've shot food, portraits, wildlife and landscapes so to have just one "style" wouldn't really work for me. I tend to just take pictures that are appealing to me. At the end of the day I am my own harshest critic and if I don't like the images I'm taking, there is no point taking them. I suppose if there were to be a "trend" in my images, they are often bright and saturated, or very bold and moody in my B&Ws.
What gear do you use?
I am a Canon user. It just happened that way. When I was first getting into photography canon was the best option and I have absolutely no regrets about it. My gear lists includes, 1dmk4, 1dmk3, 5dmk2, 500mm f/4, 100-400mm f/4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 16-36mm f/2.8, 100mm macro f/2.8, MP-E65, MT-EX24, 580EXii, 430EXii, Lumopro LP-160 x2 and Paul c Buff Einsteins x 5.
If you had to choose only one lens, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question to answer, I love my 500mm f/4, but it's a slight hassle to carry it around... I need an extra seat in the car for it. The lens use the most is the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, it's a little slow and not as sharp as the 500, but it is a great all rounder. I would love to get my hands on the new Canon 200-400 f/4 with 1.4x built in extender, and give that a good test.
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
My greatest challenge as a photographer has probably been the same as any other photographer out there. Believing in myself, knowing my work is good and that it is actually worth something. I'm still working on that everyday and think it is an ongoing process.
What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
I would say the various awards I've won, it is nice to get recognised for your images. Last month I won D-Photo amateur photographer of the year, in the Wildlife Category. I was also in the top three for the over all photographer of the year. I won three awards at NZIPP, and finally an International Birding holiday through an Africa Geographic photography competition.
Tell us a bit about your experiences with animals in the wild?
Being a field guide I probably miss most of the best shots available to me, as I'm busy getting my guests into the best spot for their images while the action is going on. Having a strong knowledge of animal behavior helps, as I need to be one step ahead of the animal at all times. We often get into some very exciting situations such as seeing Elephants, Rhino, Lions and Hippos at close range. We see grumpy elephants showing off to the car which is always memorable. In the past 5 weeks alone, I have had elephants touch my vehicle on at least 10 occasions. One of my favorite scenes at the moment is the pod of hippos we have in the Oliphants River, I can sneak up very close and get images from water level:
Could you describe your dream client/job/location?
My dream clients would be people who understand photography, people I can relate to, and who are as passionate about wildlife photography as I am. I would love to take these people on photographic safaris, share my passion for conservation and knowledge about these amazing animals. As far as location goes that's a bit harder, I think I would definitely want to stay in Africa, but would hate to narrow it down to one spot.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
Don't listen to your friends and parents when you want advice on your images. They will always tell you what they think you want to hear. Find a person who will give you honest and critical feedback, regardless of your feelings. That is the best way to learn, improve, and grow in photography.
You are recently out of study, do you feel like this has supported your progression in the photography industry?
It was a good experience and I am glad I did it. In my current situation I can honestly say I am not sure it was necessary for study. However, I did learn some skills that I think would assist me in future decision making with my photographic career.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
This is the hardest question. Obviously good technical knowledge is needed to capture the image correctly (ISO, shutter speed, DOF etc etc). Once the basics are nailed down, a good image is simply one that captures your attention. If you can make people look at your image for more than 10 seconds its most likely "good". If you can make people keep coming back to look at your image it is then very good!
What do enjoy doing to take a break from photography, what recharges you?
To get away I like to sit on the couch and watch some cricket, or go outside and sit in nature (which by the way never works, because something inevitably ends up happening that I want to photograph.) I consider myself to be a relatively boring person outside my job. There's only so much excitement a person can take in their day-to-day lives. I wake up every morning not knowing what I am going to see, or where I will end up, so when I get time off I just like to relax.
Who motivates or inspires you to keep doing what you do?
I am always motivated by the beauty and magnificence of nature. It is awe-inspiring. To sit and be a part of it everyday is an amazing thing that I am truly grateful for. On top of that, being able to capture these breath-taking moments and share them with people who cannot come and see them for themselves is very special.
One of the happiest moments of my life was a week ago driving two Italian guests around who had seen a lot of wildlife, and had a wonderful time, but their dream was to see a lion. I can still remember turning around and seeing this woman crying uncontrollably, on their final game drive, we finally found the pride of 18 lions we had spent the last week looking for.
To be able to share the beauty of nature and the wonderful scenes with the wild, and to have the chance to motivate people to see the world differently and to try and save the world from ourselves is the biggest motivating factor for me.
To see more of Lance's work: