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Interview with Adam Kossowski

Please introduce yourself. Where are you based, and where do you photograph wildlife?


My name is Adam Kossowski, known in the photography world as “Adam Piotr Kossowski." Based in Cape Town, South Africa, I am a dedicated husband and father to a beautiful daughter, blessed with the unwavering support of my incredible wife.


My wildlife photography largely takes place in Kruger National Park, located in northern South Africa. I eagerly anticipate ventures into the heart of the Serengeti in Kenya and Tanzania, the untamed wilderness of Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, and the captivating landscapes of Ethosha in Namibia throughout 2024 and 2025. Each expedition promises new encounters and opportunities to capture the beauty of nature in its purest form.

How did you get started in wildlife photography?


I had an artistic father who spent many years traveling and capturing moments with a camera and an easel back in the 1940’s until the 1980’s. Eventually, his passion moved more into painting, while I spent many hours with him happily exploring the scene or setting and thinking about and trying out some photography. I often found myself figuring out perspectives, subjects, and unique opportunities to frame or shoot, and that creative side remained within me all my life. Since those days until recently, I have been focused on building a career in another world, so it wasn’t until about 2018, when I finally had more time for myself, that I decided to get back into my passion and perhaps do so in an impactful way.


I actually almost fell back into the hobby by chance when I purchased the first DJI Mini 1 drone. I was fascinated by the perspective of capturing views from above and from the moment of take-off, seeing the world so differently from how we see it every day below. I knew I was hooked.


Following my drone purchase and many flights completed, I naturally migrated to cameras as my main form of photography, choosing the Sony ecosystem, which I use today. My approach was and still is broad in terms of subjects and styles. I don’t only do wildlife photography but also cover nature, seascapes, aerial, urban, and other genres of photography depending on my location, mood, and focus on stories. Wildlife photography, though, remains my core interest, especially as I’m now driven by what I see as a significant need for the conservation and preservation of our very vulnerable wildlife in the remaining parts of the earth that hold onto such beautiful locations.


Most wildlife locations in Africa are now under threat, driven by massive poaching and increasingly trophy hunting of the best species. Then there is also the global problem of plastic pollution and human invasion of former lands for resources. For me, it’s almost an unfolding tragedy, and I have this sense of urgency now that we have so little time left to effectively save some of our ecosystems that only a few decades ago were so much richer and managed so much more professionally. Politics in Africa has become a key problem in conservation, so I’m grappling with the challenge of capturing images that will also show this vulnerability.

Can you share a particularly memorable experience or encounter you've had while photographing wildlife?


As with most things, there are always a few standout moments on each trip.


On one such trip, I was up in the Klaserie Drift area of the Greater Kruger, South Africa, in our winter time (July) doing an early evening track when we came across a stunning male leopard that had just taken down a large antelope. He was busy dragging it through the savannah grass as the sun was dipping below the horizon and everything around us was dead silent. It was like a dream for me as we followed along at a fair distance, observing as he settled and ate some of his kill briefly before again rising up to continue to move it to the safety of a large, lone acacia tree at the top of the hill.


Guessing he was aiming for that tree, we took a short cut and positioned ourselves further behind it, with the setting sun now facing us in its dying golden-red glow. We watch him drag that buck all the way to the main jutting trunk branch and press it safely between two fork branches. With the sun now gone but the light of the horizon reflecting a golden orange hue, it made an extraordinary moment with the leopard silhouetted in the tree. It was a very special experience for me to capture all those photos, and one I keep at the top of my experience list.

Where is your favourite place to photograph wildlife, and why?


I’m honestly open to all places and experiences. I’m happy to capture the life of a small malachite kingfisher that lives in the middle of an urban city river, fighting to survive in a polluted environment to following a pride of lions on the hunt for hours. I live for finding a subject and a moment, no matter how big or small they are. I’m also attracted to places and subjects that may be overlooked.

In what ways has your approach to capturing wildlife changed as you've developed your unique artistic vision?


I have found myself shifting hugely from learning and adapting to the technical challenges of photography, filming, use of gear, and mechanical aspects of the art to focusing much more on searching for the moment and encapsulating it according to the light, time given, and opportunity of the activity. For me, it’s now much more about the story.


I find any moment that I capture and “read” in terms of the setting and action deserves a story to be added to colour its moment. On a more philosophical level, I would describe this as capturing a truth that is forever frozen as a memory. I also find the stylisation of post-production changes, and for me, that's one I’m constantly trying to figure out. In the earlier days, I was driven to inspire through the art of movement, so edits were more heavily aimed at creating drama and effect. Today, I find myself becoming more minimalist and keeping the moment in its clarity and frame.


Recently, I noticed the vast amount of wildlife photography seemed to lean toward showing off the subject, retaining its sharpness and detail, and removing background through bokeh. I look at this and wonder if I'm missing the fact that often the framing and background might also tell a lot more of the story than the photographer imagines. So as a photographic artist, I find myself constantly disagreeing with my own styles and adopting new changes that are often not in the mainstream of “how photos should be done.".

How do you enrich your passion for wildlife photography?


In my journey with wildlife photography, I find my passion enriched hugely by writing the stories behind each shot. Every click of the camera encapsulates a multitude of narratives for me - the essence of time, the vastness of space, and the dynamic interplay of actions. What drives me in this hobby is a desire to explain the context surrounding these moments, painting a broader picture for those who are interested. It's the synergy between the captured image and its surrounding environment that brings me a profound sense of fulfillment. Each photograph I take holds not just visual appeal but also a deeper resonance with the moment it portrays.

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