Foreword by David Dugmore
I was pleasantly surprised when Stuart Arnold asked me to do him a favour! His request that I do the forward for this beautiful website is an honour after his unvarying support and encouragement in our efforts to preserve the wildlife of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Stuart’s understanding of the urgency of conservation and his creative photographic productions have helped us promote sustainable, community involved, tourism to the area through vivid marketing material.
What impresses and excites me the most about Stuart’s art is his versatility, his vitality, Stuart’s flair with creative technology to produce innovative, provocative and surreal images are a feast for the soul. His subject range covers anything from seedpods to landscapes, insects to elephants, and Bushman people, to local pop stars! Most impressive of all, is he works out of a dusty little town called Maun…
Stuart’s photo field rig includes a classic old 4X4 Jeep and trailer with roof top tent. He loads camera gear and every imaginable piece of stills and film equipment and heads off into the outlying rural country, or some of Africa’s last remaining pristine wildlife areas to spend days quietly focused on gathering material. Returning to disappear into his studio in Maun, again for days on end. The outcome of his work is apparent in his unusually creative mind, capable of balancing modern technology with visually stimulating images.
I am not writing a biography about Film producer, photographer, music producer, magician - Stuart Arnold, this is just a Forward for his new website, so to end this speech, if you do not commission Stuart’s talents then I will be a happy person enjoying that he still manages to find the time to produce exquisite work for me.
Stuart James Arnold A.R.P.S
Botswana’s leading location photographer, utilising pioneering techniques and a comprehension of African light to capture the character, quality and architecture of the modern safari camp or lodge. Stuart is an accomplished ‘fine art wildlife photography’ and is currently working on a book of his art. Stuart is also an Associate member of the Royal Photographic Society.
The Soul of photographing wilderness
The pungent scent of buffalo, the reverberating rumble of an elephant, the call of the pearl spotted owl, are physically absent from my images… so too is colour in some. However I strive to capture some of the passion I experience when in the wilderness, moments and intimacy in the panorama of creatures other than bipedal apes. All flora and fauna, great and small, plays a vital roll in the well being of our planet so though photographic processes I wish to enrich each one with the greatness of this land I am fortunate to call home.
My subjects are all in their natural habitat, wild and free, it can be a painstaking process to get close to such individuals. I interact with my subjects it is generally unavoidable, the wits of survival are more acute than mine, wind direction, sent, sound and sight all have implications in the bush. I am encouraged by human intellect and imagination that can summon the soul of this wild earth, accentuating the content of a single or collection of images with passion. So now with the help of friends and clients I am venturing forth into the known and unknown world of wildlife art photography.
Those privileged to know this land we call wilderness, I hope to install a sense of awe for the natural world.
Hopes, dreams and inspiration
Sir David Attenborough, David Bellamy OBE and a chap called Johnny Morris of ‘Animal Magic’ were all an early influence in my life. BBC wildlife programmes brought an acute awareness of the natural world to my informative years. Television of yesteryear was evocative and educational without all the go faster crap of much of today’s TV… however contemporary productions such as Planet Earth or the Blue Planet should be essential viewing for all, with the dedication and technical abilities of such production teams, these epic explorations of our natural world, carry statements that Hollywood can only hope to emulate. I believe photographic art can help instigate the conservation of our planet and inspire the next generation of our earth’s caretakers… Education is the key.
And on to the village
One cannot get into a wilderness in Africa without passing through a village. I like to stop and be conscious of people going about their daily lives. On occasions I even get to make an image or two, while the language and cultural barriers can be great, sticking a camera in face of an elder or child is hard for me, even with some interaction and willingness, the camera and visitor will be the centre of awareness for a lengthy time, making natural portraits a challenge. This is the wildlife human conflict front line, an emotionally charged location with deeply traditional ways and suspicion of the dangerous wild beast.
Exceptional images of the beautiful camps and lodges that host our tourists are essential. Without the tourist, many of our wilderness areas would have been reduced to cattle ranches long ago. The luxury safari industry is fueling conservation, a significant number of tourist dollars do keep our wilderness areas wild. Therefore the images of our assets, both man-made and natural, must also be world class. And we are competing in a tough market, on a global scale, for the tourism dollar.