Jörg Ehrlich: Passionate Explorer
A dedicated nature photographer with a special passion for Africa's wildlife – that's a quick description of Jörg Ehrlich. He is on the road many weeks of the year in search of the just-right image. He also manages a mid-sized travel company that focuses on adventure trips and safaris. And for the past 20 years, he has worked as a lecturer and speaker, author and producer of numerous television films and travelogues.
Photographer Q & A
Describe the moment or event that inspired your decision to become a photographer.
I think the decisive moment that inspired me to become a photographer was in 1991 during an expedition tour in the Pamir Mountains. Together with two friends of mine (and my SLR camera fitted with lenses from 24 to 210mm), we ascended the breathtaking 7,105-meter-high Peak Korshenewskaja. During the ascent I constantly had the possibility to capture the majestic mountain features, the glaciers, the incredible light. From this moment on I was hooked on photography.
You are definitely an 'active' outdoor photographer. How do your climbing, biking and skiing skills aid in your shoots?
Absolutely – I think my alpine experience definitely helps contribute towards my ability in carrying a 25 kg camera backpack, a load which not many people are comfortable carrying. My experience also helps me with photography in the mountainous regions because not only do I find mountain climbing a pleasure, but the beauty of the mountains is far more enticing than the actual physical challenge that accompanies getting there. I also really enjoy the possibility of taking photos of subjects which very few other photographers or observers are able to get access to. This challenge is extremely fulfilling and worth all the exertion involved in taking the photos.
What is your favorite photography tip to share with other photographers?
Everything or nothing – if I am taking part in a photo safari or tour I always carry a camera on me just in case I have the chance to take advantage of that special moment. This probably sounds exhausting but because of this, I have always been able to capture any unexpected situation that has arisen. However, when I am not participating I really switch off which, in simple terms, means‚ no camera!
What's the best advice you ever received from a fellow photographer?
Despite having access to excellent subjects one should always be open for something new or something different. Even if one believes that they have found the perfect subject there is always the possibility to capture a far more impressionable one. The photographer must be willing to go the extra mile.
Which photography project or assignment has been most meaningful for you and why?
I had the privilege of taking part as a photographer during a traditional ceremony performed by the Ba'Aka pygmies. It wasn't the usual tourist event; it was very authentic and it almost tore me in half trying to decide between taking on the challenge of producing a professional photographic documentation and the uncertainty -- maybe even the prejudice – of interfering in the safety and well-being of the people involved in this ritual.
Favorite photography book and why?
Hans Silvester's "Peoples of the Omo Valley". I admire the way he effortlessly manages to authentically portray an insight into the life of these incredibly sensitive tribes and, more so, the use of his excellent photographical implementation is simply outstanding.
If you could publish a book on any photographic subject, what would it be?
If I was given the chance I would like to publish a book on the most beautiful and intact natural wilderness areas of our planet. The book should cover all areas: from experiences with polar bears to African safari subjects, as well as the raw beauty of the Himalayas. Ideally, these pictures could help create awareness of these natural treasures and hopefully help to maintain them and maybe even save them.
Name a geographical place that you'd love to return to or go to for an assignment.
My personal favorites are the Serengeti and the Okavango Delta. Both landscapes offer extraordinary possibilities when it comes to animal and nature photography. Being able to participate in an African wild dog hunt in the Delta or just observing the wildebeest herds during the migrational river crossing of the Mara River are once in a lifetime experiences that shouldn't be missed.
What's in your camera bag right now?
- Canon EOS 5D Mk III
- Canon EOS 5D Mk II
- Canon EOS 7D
- Leica V-Lux 4
- Canon 24-105 mm
- Canon 100-400 mm
- Canon 4/500 mm
- 2x Canon 580 EX Speedlight
- Sigma 8 mm Fisheye
- Sigma 12-24 mm
- 5-6 spare batteries, 10-15 SanDisk CF memory cards
Most unusual item you keep in your camera bag?
An unusual item? Doubtful. I have a few large plastic bags that I use to protect the camera from rain and the risk of condensation. Items that I always have with me are: a head torch, plenty of spare batteries and empty memory cards…
How do you organize and protect your gear in challenging environments?
I am someone who has high expectations of the technology and I do test the quality of the equipment to the absolute limit. Protection is not my top priority as simple plastic bags are ideal for preventing damage from salt water or heavy rain. Whether I am in the Amazon rainforest or on the icy cold peak of Mt. McKinley, I have always tested the equipment to the limit and I have never been let down, neither from my cameras nor from my Lowepro backpacks.
What do you love about your Lowepro bag(s)?
What I really like about the Lowepro Pro Trekker 600 AW is its large size, which for me is perfect, and, as it is the largest of the backpacks available from Lowepro, you can't get it bigger than that. It has plenty of space that gives me more flexibility in being able to pack the things that I need how I want. The backpack comes with a protective cover to safeguard it against the elements as well as a waistbelt that fastens around the hips providing a comfortable carrying position even with a 25 kg load. There are also numerous possibilities in the form of sleeves and pockets for fixing the tripod and other camera and travelling utensils onto the backpack.
See the stunning wildlife, nature and travel images of Jörg Ehrlich on his web site (www.joerg-ehrlich.de) or follow him on Facebook: