We’re happy to present the first edition of our Inside the Instagram series featuring wildlife cinematographer Shannon Wild. Shannon is an award winning photographer who has worked for clients such as National Geographic Wild, WildAid, and Africa Geographic. Find Shannon on Instagram, here.
We asked Shannon about her conservationism, what she’s learned from the animals she works with, and what her favorite piece of gear is. Shannon shows us what it takes to put your passion to work for a good cause.
What is your passion? How long have you been pursuing it?
I’ve had a lifelong passion for animals and volunteered in the rehabilitation and conservation industry before ever picking up a camera over 14 years ago. I’m an ambassador and produce content for various wildlife conservation organizations including WildAid, The Perfect World Foundation, Wild Tomorrow Fund, and many others.
How do you feel your art fits in with your conservation efforts?
Wildlife and habitat conservation is a deep passion of mine. It’s essential to bring awareness to the greater public. We cannot protect animals if we don’t know about them or their plight, so education is essential. I’ve documented for many conservation organizations and nonprofits covering topics such as the rhino and elephant poaching crisis.
Do you have a favorite piece of equipment?
Moving onto RED Digital Cinema cameras has been life-changing for me. Their exceptional quality and frame-rate is important for capturing wildlife in motion. I started on a Scarlet-W and am now on a stunning 8k Helium. The amazing quality and build of these cameras is as important as the company itself. RED has been incredibly supportive of me and my cinematographic journey, they’re like one big family.
How did you get started in photography and then cinematography?
I’ve always been creatively inclined and worked as a graphic designer and art director for many years before dedicating my life to full-time wildlife photography. My photography naturally evolved into cinematography. Initially, I starting filming clips on my DSLR and then eventually moved over to filming on RED Digital Cinema cameras.
What is a lesson you’ve learned from working so closely with wildlife?
Respect and a calm energy are of the utmost importance and lots and lots of patience!
What’s your favorite animal to work with?
That’s a really tough question and one I get often. I enjoy working with all animals, some are obviously more difficult than others. I especially enjoy working with reptiles and recently filmed the impressive Komodo Dragon on Komodo Island in Indonesia. It was an awe-inspiring experience to spend time with these living dinosaurs in the wild.
Is there something about an animal you can capture in a photograph that is more elusive when filming?
To be honest, I feel like it’s the other way around. Once I started filming I was absolutely hooked! I love the fact that I can capture animal behavior and intimate moments in an animal’s life that I can’t portray with a photograph. I especially love working with high frame rates so the viewer gets an even more intimate look at the animal’s movements. It’s magical working in slow motion.
What advice would you give to a filmmaker looking to discover their passion?
What are you passionate about aside from cinematography? Is it something you can combine with filming? For me, that’s the ultimate. I’ve been passionate about wildlife long before I ever picked up a camera. Being able to combine these two loves is a dream come true and helps to give me the persistence, patience, and energy needed to make it in such a niche and competitive industry.
Don’t give up. That’s what will set you apart from all of the others trying to do the same thing. I’ve had to make many sacrifices on my journey and it’s still very hard work being a freelance cinematographer always working to find my next project. If you truly are passionate about your work then the sacrifices are worth it.
Who is a filmmaker/creator that is inspiring you the most lately?
I love the work that Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier are doing in the wildlife arena and that they are bringing such widespread awareness to the many threats wildlife are facing these days. I’m also really encouraged to see other women in this usually male-dominated industry.
What’s your goal for 2018?
I start on a new long-term documentary project for National Geographic in India, so I’m really excited about being able to spend quality time in one environment and really get to know the animals there. It’s the best way to build a proper story and really do the animals justice. I’m also really excited to learn about new species, environments, and cultures.
Aside from that project, I have several existing commitments which will take me back to the Arctic and Madagascar, two of my favorite places. I’m also filming American Crocodiles in Mexico and a solo exhibition in Sweden.