There’s something about wildlife photography that stirs the imagination. Pictures of wild, exotic animals in vivid, true-to-life poses bring the fauna of far-off locations into the hands of children and adults alike through nature magazines, picture books, calendars, and more.
French photographers Christine and Michele Denis-Huot have made wildlife photography their career and life. This married couple alternates between their home in Le Havre, France and a wildlife reserve in Kenya. Offering glimpses into all aspects of their calling, the couple speaks candidly of their work as video cameras follow them in Wildlife Photographers from France to Africa under the talented direction of Jean-Thomas Renaud.
Making a film about photography is an interesting undertaking, and Renaud successfully captures the sequence of images being taken in a rapid, shutter-like clicking as the Denis-Huot’s snap their way through the scenes of carnivorous frenzy and familial affection that their animal subjects provide. The landscape is breathtaking, and the scenes of animal activity fascinating.
Truly, the Denis-Huot’s are as much hunters as they are photographers. They stalk their prey, lying in wait for hours at a time, waiting for the serendipitous conditions of lighting, activity, and angle to combine to make photos worthy of publishing. They also motor towards scenes of activity, jumping from their vehicle and taking photos in a flurry of motion as exciting panoramas unfold before their lenses.
Christine and Michele provide nearly all of the verbal commentary apart from general introductions and transitions. Separate male and female narrators provide overdubbing of an English translation of the Denis-Huot’s words over muted French. They describe their work, their equipment, their lifestyle in a custom-built four-wheel drive vehicle in the African wilds, and more in their native French. When they occasionally speak in English, the couple speaks for themselves apart from the narrators. Parents and educators should note that in the heat of the moment some mild French curse words are uttered, and are translated into their English equivalents in the overdubbed translation.
Wildlife Photographers provides enough of an overview to give a feel for the entire process of animal photography – from taking pictures on site, living conditions, image selection, composition, image processing, and more. If you’re looking for technical details about cameras and lenses, you won’t find much of that information included; Renaud instead focuses on the flow of photography in the wild.
Our small children were all enthralled by the animal action on the screen, and the stunning photographs displayed throughout the film, even our one and three-year-olds. My six-year-old is now fascinated by the prospect of wildlife photography as a lifestyle. With a 51-minute running time, she didn’t hesitate to ask for an immediate replay. For viewers with a general interest in African wildlife and nature photography, Wildlife Photographers provides a broad, interesting survey of the profession from a hands-on point of view.