Being a volunteer photographer for African Impact has been one of the biggest challenges of my life.  I’ve always battled issues with my self-confidence and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the many responsibilities that would be a part of the project. Add to that the fact that I’d be living a completely different way of life than what I’m used to, and I knew that I had set the challenge bar very high.

Upon my arrival at Dumela Lodge I faced some unexpected challenges.  A lens that I had bought for the trip was not working properly and I spent the first week unable to take any good photographs. Fortunately, I was able to get a new lens at a photo store in Hoedspruit, a nearby town.

The first trip we went on was a game drive to Buffalo Land.  It seemed like there were a million things to think about.  I needed to figure out what ISO, aperture and shutter speed to use, and how to deal with ever-changing lighting conditions.

Unfortunately, elephants and zebras were not willing to stay in one place and pose for me, no matter how much I wished they would. When I got back to the lodge I felt completely overwhelmed. None of my images had turned out well and I was feeling very discouraged.

As I near the conclusion of my stay with African Impact, I’m starting to see improvements in my photography. Slowly but surely, and with the amazing instruction we’ve received from Sam and Marvin, it’s becoming easier to shoot with aperture-priority, I’m starting to get a better understanding of photo composition, and even when my photos are not always as good as I’d like them to be, I’ve learned to put the camera away for a bit and just appreciate the breathtaking scenery and the amazing experiences I’ve been privileged to have.

I’m also very grateful for the support I’ve received from everyone here during my stay.  Each one of the volunteers I’ve met has inspired me to want to become a better photographer.  They are not only extremely talented but always willing to share their knowledge with me. Then of course there is the staff at African Impact.  They have done everything in their power to make our stay here extraordinary and it’s because of their constant support that my time here in South Africa has been an experience I will never forget.