Wildlife cameraman

Few jobs offer the immense personal freedom and outrageous opportunities to travel than that of being a wildlife cameraman.
By combining a passion for the outdoors with a love of nature and its countless species of plants, animals and sea-life, wildlife cameramen and women spend their life flying to remote, and not so remote, locations to film their work. And this work is often beneficial in highlighting the plight of many endangered species; animals that without solid proof of their existence, many government’s would happily let vanish in return for deforestation and its associated revenue generating industries.
Unlike many other professions which can be fairly easily penetrated by following a rigid and well-trodden path of qualifications and experience, becoming a wildlife cameraman is much more unique. You could almost say you need a ‘lucky break’ to move into this industry as many start out as assistants on meagre wages. Even assistant positions are both rare and sought after and only those with true dedication will stick the course. That said, if you are lucky enough to fall into this niche you will be rewarded by an infinitely more exciting and fun career; one where you get an unparalleled insight into modern day ecosystems which most people would feel fortunate just to observe on their television.
So where do you start out? Well like I said there is no hard and fast rule however you may find it beneficial by studying a media degree at college or university. From there you would look for an assistants or interns position. In fact, you should happily take any work than gives you an exposure to video production or documentary making. The more experience the better and many cameraman operate on a freelance basis. Try to social network within the industry; attend trade shows and events that may give you contacts. Ideally you want to build up a portfolio of work that you can showcase to any potential employer.
In terms of earning money, the work can be extremely well paid however the income tends to be sporadic on a project by project basis. Your experience and skills in regard to getting those all important shots of animals, which can be hard to come by, will govern how busy you will be and the wage you can command. For example the team who work with David Attenborough on his wildlife documentaries are some of the most experienced in the industry. The shoots can take years to complete and the team have to employ new and creative ways to get as close as possible to the animals in their natural habitat.
Another wonderful aspect of wildlife camera work is its fantastic variety – something that only gets more eclectic with time; one week you may be in the Congo filming gorillas or rarely-seen tropical birds, the next could be completely different as you dive down into the depths to gather footage of rare fish on the other side of the world. For these reasons, those wishing to find work in this sector need to think very seriously about their capacity to learn and adapt to the many environmental challenges that may occur. Challenges that often require physical fitness and an ability to concentrate on the task in hand even when subjected to troublesome conditions. Basically, the more you can do, the more doors will open. For example, training to become a proficient underwater camera person and also, conversely, to climb large jungle trees well will surely give a person a greater chance of forging a fulfilling career out of this endlessly enjoyable work opportunity.


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