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Why come on a photo safari with me?

My daily existence is split between planning the best safaris for wildlife photographers and then leading these safaris for my clients through Africa and the world. I’m not  just an enthusiast/part time guide, but a full time working professional that lives and breaths wildlife photography every day. I have been leading and hosting photo safaris since 2005 and most of my clients travel privately with me each year to destinations that we select together. I love being out in nature so much that I also lead scheduled photo workshops and photo tours throughout the year.

My background is nature conservation and my niche is wildlife photography.jpg two genres compliment one another very well and allow me to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to anticipating wildlife behaviour. This is evidenced in the many publications and awards my images have won. I use this experience of 20 years in nature to your benefit when on safari. This experience cannot be taught, it is learnt over time immersed in nature and I find great joy in sharing it with my clients.

I use my skills and experience to actually leave a legacy of information for other people in the form of 5 published books. Two of these are the Insiders guide series where I detail the best places to photograph in Southern Africa: when to travel, what lenses to use, what animals to search for and many other tips that have aided many wildlife photographers. The series sells very well and is an indication of the knowledge I have to offer other wildlife photographers. The books I have published are all listed here.

What makes a photo safari with Shem different to any other?

My aim is not to be different, but rather myself. I am a gentle natured person that enjoys teaching and tutoring via subtlety. My aim is for my clients to gain a great appreciation of their environment and through that capture compelling and thought provoking images. I draw on my 20 years of knowledge in nature and my 12 years as a wildlife photographer to impart this message to clients. I will always push the photographic boundaries for you to get images that stand out from the norm. An example of this was understanding that there were different photos to be taken than from the normal angle of a game drive vehicle, which most wildlife photographers use when on safari. I did this by building an underground elephant hide at Mashatu whereby my clients now capture unique and striking images that were not possible before.

I use the same principle on every safari- to give unique and different opportunities to my clients so that their skills grow and their images improve dramatically.  I also love learning from all photographers. In 2012 I brought Art Wolfe to Africa to share his knowledge and skills with fellow South Africans. Working closely with such photography masters helps me grow my photography and my ability to teach various principles of photography more effectively. It helps me grow, diversify my knowledge base and express that same knowledge to you. It also means that Art Wolfe now travels regularly with me, helping to contribute to my clients' knowledge and skills. This is why a photo safari with me is quite different to any other.


What benefits does travelling with Shem in Africa have?

When travelling with me you receive the benefit of my years of experience as a wildlife photographer, in Africa, whose full time profession and passion is to seek new and unique wildlife images for my clients.  This passion extends to the unique photo hides I share my vision that went into producing these in order for clients to take amazing images.

The benefits extend to my knowledge of the safari industry. I have excellent relationships with the lodges I use as well as the rangers on the ground- all gathered from my years of travelling in Africa on safari. Photographers are demanding in their specific needs and I work closely with the lodges to ensure that these needs are met. It means you get an improved safari experience as I have worked with these lodges for many years and they know exactly what I, as a photo leader require from them.

Having these contacts in the industry led to me negotiate my own photographic concessions in areas that are very photogenic. This is the case in Mashatu, where via my company, C4 Photo Safaris, we have an exclusive photographic concession that is of great benefit to clients. Especially the photo hides which attract photographers from all over the world.

By travelling with me you are travelling under C4 Photo Safaris, who are accredited with SATSA. The SATSA logo signifies that C4 offers services of the highest quality and the company is deemed to be a credible and reliable provider of services to the tourism industry in Africa. THese services are independently audited on an annual basis. C4 Photo Safaris compies with the highest standing within SATSA which means it is bonded, providing a financial guarantee of deposits held against the involuntary liquidation of a SATSA member. This means when booking with C4, your money is safe with us.

Why do you choose the destinations listed?

Over the years of running photo safaris you realise which destinations are good for wildlife photography and which are not. Additionally, you need the lodges to accommodate the needs of wildlife photographers. By working with certain lodges/operators I have developed very good relationships that benefit my clients. For instance at the Rattray reserves I was instrumental in them building photo bars on their game drive vehicles. I needed this to improve my clients experience and because of my good relationship with them it was done.

Similarly in Kenya I have worked very hard to get the best camp in the Masai Mara. Now I have a base in the heart of the Mara, with a river crossing right in front of camp from which clients can enjoy their safaris. No other camp offers this location and my client’s benefit immensely from it.

Again, in Svalbard I selected only the strongest and best vessel in the archipelago to ensure we could get as deep as possible into the pack ice in order to have the best chance of seeing polar bears. I want only the best experience for my clients.

I am of course always looking at new destinations and camps and I love nothing more than researching a new destination and then finding a solution to getting photographers in there with me.


What is the difference between a scheduled departure and a custom safari?

A scheduled safari is a set departure date that I plan and book in advance for clients to join. I choose the destination and the timing to co-incide with great wildlife activity for the ultimate wildlife photo opportunities. This could be the wildebeest crossing in the Masai Mara or going to the underground hides in the dry season when the animals are visiting it. These scheduled safaris are usually between 6-10 clients on a trip.

A custom safari is where you contact me directly to book a trip designed to your specifications and travel dates. I use my experience and knowledge of African wildlife movements to put together the best itinerary for you. I will then travel personally with you so I can share photo techniques and tips with you while on safari.

Is a custom/private photo safari for me?

A custom safari is the ultimate way to photograph wildlife. You will have me as your guide and you will be travelling to excellent wildlife areas where I will put you in the best photographic situations possible. I arrange private vehicles and other special arrangements so that you have unprecedented access to wildlife sightings. If you want a wildlife experience that is personalised to your exact requirements and the support of myself as your personal photo host, then yes, a custom photo safari is for you to ensure that you get the most amazing images on your next safari.

What does a private/custom safari with you cost?

Expect a 7 day custom safari to cost in the region of $10 000 per person for the whole safari.  I use excellent lodges that are in the range of $500 - $900 per day per person and will arrange every part of your travels in Africa from the moment you arrive at the airport, to the minute you depart. Typically your costs includes every single aspect of your safari, so you pay once and then relax to enjoy your safari in its entirety with me.

When you book a private safari with me you get the full support of C4 Photo Safaris who are SATIB insured and SATSA accredited (see below).



What are your fees?

My fees are built into the costing of the safari along with the commission that is received from the lodges. Hosting and leading safaris is my full time occupation. I am not a part time photo enthusiast; I treat my guiding, photography and tutoring very seriously and have been doing so since 2005 when I led my first private clients. If you would like to know my exact fees please contact me directly here.

Who arranges logistics and the planning for your safaris?

I own and run C4 Photo Safaris. This is the oldest and largest specialist photo safari company in Africa. Once we have personally discussed your needs and requirements for a safari and settle on an itinerary I then hand you over to C4 who build the final itinerary for you. All further logistics, planning and payments are handled by C4. This ensures that you receive the full support of a professional and established travel company that specialises in wildlife photography.

What about insurance and accreditation? Will I be safe on safari?

I only travel to locations in Africa that are very safe and the lodges I use are all accredited and approved by their tourism associations. As most of the traveling in Africa is done in areas with good tourist numbers, these are very safe. Many African countries rely on tourism as their highest form of income, so they ensure that conditions are safe for all visitors.

With C4 being insured by SATIB, it means that if need be C4 can get you out of any location by medi-vac, something I have never had to do. It is still imperative that you have comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your safari.

C4 Photo Safaris is also full member of SATSA. The SATSA logo signifies that C4 offers services of the highest quality and the company is deemed to be a credible and reliable provider of services to the tourism industry in Africa. These services are independently audited on an annual basis. SATSA members are bonded, providing a financial guarantee of deposits held against the involuntary liquidation of a SATSA member.




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