Having grown up in the Scottish Highlands, wildlife and the outdoors played a big part of David’s upbringing, with the Cairngorm Mountains providing the perfect childhood playground. After university David spent much of his time working his way round the globe where jobs ranged from airport security at Sydney Airport, to running a ski school in Courchevel, France. He still enjoys sport and after a sporadic rugby career was ended by a touch rugby dislocation of his little finger (!) David threw himself into marathons completing nine to date, the best for sure being the New York marathon dressed as a rhino. After finally settling in Edinburgh in 2001 he spent the next eight years working in the financial sector advising private clients. A chance holiday to Botswana, organised by Aardvark Safaris in 2009, changed everything. Such was the impression left by Botswana on David and his wife Alice that they were back within six months – this time to live in, and run, photographic camps for the next five years.
David readily acknowledges that becoming an accomplished photographer is much easier when you live nine months of the year surrounded by your subject. He was also working for National Geographic’s Dereck and Beverly Joubert, running the Great Plains Conservation camps, some of the most photographically focused camps in Africa, including Zarafa Camp, their flagship in the Selinda Reserve.
David is now based in the UK but travels back and forth to Africa designing and running photographic trips as a photographic safari specialist. He is also developing an education programme, in two UK schools, for National Geographic as their Big Cats’ Education Representative.
A self confessed camera geek, he acknowledges far too much time is spent looking at camera gear websites rather than actually out taking shots!
Favourite African experience
Finding myself in my camp, face down in the Botswana sand of the Selinda Reserve, surrounded by inquisitive wild dogs having just eaten an impala… luckily with my camera.
Any of the big cats, of course, but without a doubt wild dogs. I have seen so many wonderful sightings of them hunting.
Favourite three camps
I’m sorry I am very biased! Selinda Explorers Camp is just perfect. Situated on a double bend of the Selinda Spillway I have seen more wildlife whilst situated in this camp than any other I have ever visited.
The Zanzibar Collection’s The Palms is out of this world. There are so many great photographic opportunities in Zanzibar also.
Again biased but Mara Plains Camp for its incredible predator sightings. The Mara on the whole is just one of the most amazing spectacles of big cats on the planet. I have never gone a day without seeing a big cat at some point during the day.
African countries visited
Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania (Zanzibar), Zimbabwe, Zambia
On arranging holidays
As far as photography is concerned it is so important to consider what you actually want to do with the images you take. In fact do you even need to take a camera if a smartphone will do? Many people feel overwhelmed by all the camera equipment that is available and that they must buy the most expensive bit of kit out there. My role is to make it simple and enjoyable for people and to match them up with the right camera for their trip and teach them how to get the most out of it.