• Meet the Au­thor

The au­thor and wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher has writ­ten and il­lus­trated more than 30 books with his wife An­gela, in­clud­ing guide­books to East Africa and a chil­dren’s book about big cats. Sa­cred Na­ture – Life’s Eter­nal Dance, a 300-page cof­fee ta­ble book, takes t

go! - - Contents - – Suzaan Hau­man

What makes Sa­cred Na­ture dif­fer­ent from your other work? Many of our books were about 80 000 words long, about wildlife, with pic­tures se­lected to mir­ror the text. This time Angie said she wanted to do a book where the pic­tures were big enough to re­ally show them off, where the text didn’t in­flu­ence the pho­tos, and the pho­tos were the story. The ge­n­e­sis of the book was Angie’s vi­sion: great pho­tog­ra­phy and a strong de­sign con­cept.

Would you de­scribe it as a cof­fee ta­ble book? I’m a bit sus­pi­cious of cof­fee ta­ble books to be hon­est – we’ve got piles at home that we never ac­tu­ally open. But one in­ter­viewer de­scribed our book as “a cof­fee ta­ble book on steroids” and an­other said “this is the one you go and buy a cof­fee ta­ble for”. My ad­vice is this: Put the book on a stand on your cof­fee ta­ble and turn a page each day. Look at the pic­ture, read the quote and start your day in a good way.

This was a fam­ily project – what role did your son David play? David de­signed the book. He agreed to do it on one con­di­tion: He would choose the pho­tos. We won­dered whether it would work and he duly did what ed­i­tors do so well: He mur­dered a lot of dar­lings. But we trusted him. He’s very tal­ented and he grew up in the back of a car on sa­fari. He wanted to de­sign a book that didn’t look like a wildlife book and I think he suc­ceeded. He didn’t want to be led by pho­tos il­lus­trat­ing an­i­mal be­hav­iour. He wanted pho­tos that would res­onate with peo­ple.

You in­cluded var­i­ous quotes in the book – how did you go about choos­ing them? We all love quotes – the work of philoso­phers, re­li­gious lead­ers and sages. David de­cided to pick quotes to mir­ror the thoughts the pic­tures evoke. There are so many photo books out there and I think the lit­mus test for a book like this is whether peo­ple flip through it and put it back think­ing they’ve seen ev­ery­thing it has to of­fer, or if they take it home to read again and again, find­ing some­thing new to ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery time.

You and An­gela have both won the Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year com­pe­ti­tion. Any ad­vice for be­gin­ner pho­tog­ra­phers? Be ad­ven­tur­ous! And look at other gen­res of pho­tog­ra­phy – cook­ery, sports, life­style… It will open up your imag­i­na­tion and you’ll learn a lot. Most im­por­tantly, know what you want to say. If you don’t have a story to tell, don’t bother tak­ing pic­tures.

There’s a con­ser­va­tion an­gle to Sa­cred Na­ture… Yes, we want to use our pho­tog­ra­phy to pro­tect the thing we love, which is na­ture. Some of the funds raised from sales of the book will go to­wards con­ser­va­tion projects. But most of all we want to re­mind peo­ple that na­ture is sa­cred and some­thing to be re­spected.

Favourite travel book? The Worst Jour­ney in the World by Ap­s­ley Cherry-Gar­rard. It was first pub­lished in 1922 and is still de­scribed by some as the great­est travel book ever writ­ten. It’s an ac­count of his ex­pe­di­tion to Antarc­tica to find em­peror pen­guin eggs for sci­en­tific re­search.

Buy Sa­cred Na­ture (HPH pub­lish­ing, hardcover, 29 x 37 cm) for R980 in book­stores or at www.hph­pub­lish­ing.co.za

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