A couple’s adventures visiting the beautiful wildlife of Africa will be captured in a stunning new photobook.
Kym, 53, and Tonya Illman, 47, from Perth, Australia, used remote-controlled cameras, hidden cameras, and quad-copters, among other things, to depict African wildlife in different ways.
The pair tried to join cheetahs, wild dogs, and elephants and once caught the attention of a lion cub for what Mr. Illman called a ‘lion selfie.’
They plan to showcase more than 140 of their best images, along with the story behind each, in Africa on Safari, a 204-page book coming to Kickstarter soon.
Mr. Illman said: “We carry more photographic gear on safari than almost anyone, except the BBC.
‘Humans (and animals) are most intrigued by our remote-controlled camera buggy.’
The battery-operated 4WD camera buggy was customized to carry a Canon 5D Mark 3 camera with a 16-35mm lens. The pair use the buggy mainly for game reserves or conservancies with the approval of the game reserve guide or manager.
Mr. Illman said: ‘The low and wide-angle wildlife shots are rare. Unlike standard shots taken from the roof of a car, the horizon is low, and the animal looks big when it comes close to the hidden camera or buggy. People are simply not used to seeing this view. ‘
The pair have spent more than 22 weeks in Africa, photographing for the book over the past two years, and have come unnervingly close to various wildlife.
Mr. Illman explained that the day they took the ‘Lion Selfie’ photo, ‘We put the buggy out with a male lion one day, but when it started raining, I drove it back to our safari vehicle,’
‘Two adults saw it and followed it back. Not wanting them to damage it, I drove it under the car hoping they would depart. They weren’t satisfied, so Tonya quickly mounted the camera on a single tripod and connected the remote shutter.
I lowered the monopod through the open window, and as the lion got closer and began to stroke it gently, Tonya pressed the shutter button from afar – my bottom hand was just 50cm from its paw. ‘
Four years ago, the couple immersed themselves in photography and used a quad-copter.
Mr. Illman said: ‘Some of the aerial photographs featured in the book, photos that were not possible many years ago.
“Unfortunately, some countries have restricted the use of drones over the past 12 months, so these photos will be difficult to obtain in the future.”
Mr. Illman’s wife had been to Africa in the ’90s, but it took her two decades to convince him to join her on a second safari.
He said: ‘Tonya thought I would like it, but for decades I refused. Then one day, she called me at work and said, ‘I’ve decided we would take the boys (then 10 and 12 years old) on safari in South Africa. I booked a flight for the four of us; you can book accommodation ‘.
Not resigned to that prospect, Mr. Illman scoured the internet and, as an avid photographer, bought several books on African wildlife photography.
Mr. Illman said: “I quickly became aware of the awe-inspiring photographic opportunities that a safari offered and decided I would embrace the trip.
Since then, the Illmans have taken over a quarter of a million images and decided on 143 of their best photos to include in this large-format book, Africa on Safari, published by London-based Papadakis Publisher and released later this year.
Ms. Illman added: ‘A lot of our work requires two people. Kym can be a bit disorganized, and when you have 3,000 images to look through at the end of the day, my organizational skills come to the fore. Having two of us shoot also allows one to shoot wide, the other narrow, resulting in two different perspectives. ‘
The couple admits that it’s hard to miss specific photos with many great images to choose.
“We have so many pictures of lions, we could do a world-class book about lions, but we’re having to get rid of so it’s not lion-indulgent,” explains Mr. Illman.
For more information, visit the ‘Africa on Safari’ Kickstarter.