Wildlife photographer and environmentalist DAVID GULDEN talks about his art and his life in Kenya, revealing the highs and lows of his profession and the biggest obstacle he had to face to take a good shot. In concise answers, Gulden is very realistic when it comes to the saving of nature and animals in Africa, and then he sweetens his tone expressing his love for what he does and for his family.
What is the greatest privilege of your profession?
Watching nature unfold.
And what’s the hardest part of it?
Can be extremely boring.
What is the biggest myth about photographers?
That it is a viable career choice.
That was a joke. But it is getting more and more difficult…
How do you remember your first time in Kenya? How much has your perception of the country changed in the last 20 years?
Kenya was so exotic to me when I first visited with my father when I was fifteen, everything was new and exciting. In many ways I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to recreate that first safari. It hasn’t necessarily been my perception that has changed, rather it has been the reality that has – there are twice as many people living in Kenya today.
USA or Kenya – which do you consider home?
I grew up in New York, but my wife, daughter, and I live in Kenya together, so Kenya has become home.
What do you do on a usual day in Nairobi?
Endure the filth and traffic, if I have to leave our compund, but obviously I prefer to be at home with my family.
What are your rituals when you work?
I do two styles of wildlife photography. One way is to drive around 13 hours a day looking for animals to photo. The other is to set up camera traps and mount cameras in raptor nests. I highly prefer the second method.
What are your thoughts while you wait for the best moment to take a shot?
The goal is Zen disengagement and transcendence, the results usually involve much swearing though.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced to take a photo and how did you overcome it?
I designed a mechanism to place my cameras in eagles’ nests. Getting up the tree was the biggest obstacle. I overcame it with a crossbow, climbing ropes, and harnesses.
What have you learned from the animals you’ve photographed?
I’ve learned that collective human economic activity is destroying their habitat.
Why do you photograph animals? What is your goal?
I find nature’s system to be a form of perfection, one that I hope to share with others.
A Romanian millionaire made it into the news recently, after he killed an elephant and other 19 animals in South Africa. How do you feel about the fact that certain African governments allow people to travel in their countries to kill animals?
I find hunting tasteless and archaic. But hunters pay huge amounts of money to pursue the game and they don’t destroy natural habitat. The only way nature will survive in Africa is if it pays its own way. There is no ideology of saving nature for nature’s sake here.
How do you think your work as a photographer affects the situations environmentalists face?
Hopefully it spreads the love and awareness.
Why did you name your book The Centre Cannot Hold, using a verse written by William Butler Yeats?
I like the mystery and negativity of the poem, you can apply it to Africa’s nature.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working toward another book, it should take another five years at least, I’m going much deeper now.
What’s your biggest ambition as a photographer?
Please buy my book. Please?
DAVID GULDEN – A SHORT PORTRAIT
Three most important qualities of a good picture: light, composition, subject
What do you think of the selfie trend in social media? I’m the only person that photographs me.
Describe the photo that would best capture human nature: something violent
Describe the photo that would best capture love: my family
Moment in history you would have liked to capture: everyone wishes they could see the Africa of Karen Blixen’s era.
If you could live inside a photo: I would never give up 3D.
A woman you would like to photograph: my daughter, Aysha
Describe Paradise: anywhere with my Aysha and my wife
DAVID GULDEN is the author of “The Centre Canot Hold”, a unique collection of photographs, published by Glitterati Incorporated, capturing the raw beauty of African wild animals. Throughout the years, Gulden’s pictures have been featured in famous publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Vogue and American television channel CNN.
You can find David Gulden’s book on Amazon, at the price of $50,67.
Photographs: courtesy of Mr.David Gulden, davidgulden.comSemnat de Corina Stoica