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International honour for Durban North photographer

Branson Meaker was recognised in the Montphoto International Photographic Competition in Spain.

DURBAN North teenager Branson Meaker is no stranger to international accolades when it comes to his wildlife photography.

In 2019, the 18-year-old was named as a finalist in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition (WPY); then in 2020 and 2021, Branson was recognised in the Montphoto International Photographic Competition in Spain, coming in the top 10 of young wildlife photographers in the world.

This year, he has picked up another honour in the Montphoto competition for his photo of elephants drinking from a river in Botswana entitled ‘Drinking Giants’.

Incredibly, Branson placed in the top six in the youth category (U18) and top three in the 15–17 age category.

This is his fourth international award, and his photo was chosen from thousands of entries from 65 countries this year.

His photo entitled ‘Drinking Giants’ received international acclaim at this year’s Montphoto International Photographic Competition in Spain. He placed in the top six in the youth category (U18) and top three in the 15–17 age category.

“It is always an honour, especially as there are entries from all over the world. For me, the hardest part was finding which photo to enter. With international competitions, you never know, so I had entered a few photographs. I was always sure of submitting the ‘Drinking Giants’ photo among them. My family, who are all photographers, and I were on a game drive in the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana when we came upon a herd of elephants drinking from a river.

“We were about level with them, and they barely acknowledged us. I focused on two of the young elephants in the herd, and I just watched them drink water using their trunks. I shot the photos in portrait mode, and I love how the light illuminates their trunks alongside one of the males in the herd. So you have trunks in the foreground and a background with this warm feeling because of the sunrise. It almost gives my photo an artificial lighting,, but for me it is about taking the best picture I can in the moment,” he said.

The matriculant at Clifton College also gave his advice for young photographers hoping to start their journey.

“I think the biggest thing for me is not to be afraid and to just take photos. I’m self-taught, and I would always watch my father, Shawn, and older brother, Skye, in the bush, and I just began playing with the settings, taking photos. I stopped using the automatic setting fairly quickly in my journey. Wildlife photography does take a great deal of patience and a little bit of luck, but if you’re willing to put in the time, you will succeed. For any young photographer out there, start small and learn the settings of your camera, and your passion for photography will show,” he said.

If you would like to view more of Branson’s incredible photography, visit www.bransonmeaker.com.


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