The French Laurent Baheux (1970) is one of the most exciting wildlife photographers the world has to offer. His high contrast black and white photography of Africa's most wanted mammals set him apart from the norm of wildlife photographer. The well-chosen highlights put an emphasises on the animals character, giving them an almost human like appearance. We're happy to present you with a small interview with the master himself!
I’m never tempted to publish my pictures in color because, for me, Africa is a land of light and contrast.
You've photographed many animals, do you have a favourite animal to photograph (or one that has extremely impressed you)?
It's true that I love big mammals: the elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra... but the Lion is the most impressive because of his character, his strong personality. The strongest predator of Africa is the king of the bush and that is apparent in everything he is or does. Africa without lions wouldn't be Africa anymore.
The strongest predator of Africa is the king of the bush and that is apparent in everything he is or does.
What is the best country to photograph wildlife?
It isn't a country but an ecosystem for wildlife. African wildlife is still present in the east of Africa: Kenya and Tanzania. These are my favourite destinations but we must know that these animals are endangered and we don't know how long we can still see them free in their own territory. I hope I can still travel Africa for a long time to see them free in wild areas.
Are you ever tempted to publish your pictures in color?
I'm never tempted to publish my pictures in color because, for me, Africa is a land of light and contrast. You have to ask yourself which color an elephant, zebra, hippo, rhino or buffalo is... Black, white and grey are the main answers. Photography is a 50 shades of grey's game.
What kind of shooting set-up do you use (camera, lens, etc).
I use Nikon equipment, more particulary the Nikon D4 and D800. I have several lenses too: AFS 800/5.6 VR, 600/4 VR, 300/2.8 VR, 80-400 VR ED, 70-200 2.8 VR2, 24-120/4 VR. I have one carbon monopod but I prefer holding the camera. Working without a mono- or tripod I feel free as a bird.
And last, did you every experience any danger while shooting?
I've often heard this question but in fact I feel less in danger photographing wildlife than when living with 'civilised people'..
Nevertheless, we're not aware enough of the hippo's reaction. He seems so quiet and slow but is one of the fastest animals in the bush! I had a bad experience with one of them in Kenya. I wanted to take a picture of a male hippo close to the river and decided to get out the 4x4. I was too close to his private pool and he wasn't happy about that! He turned and rushed at me very quickly. I was really afraid and happy to have the car so close to me. I never did that again! Never forget that you are a guest in their home.