As the calamities of global warming grow more frequent and severe, some claim that technology is at odds with nature. The more our gadgets can do, these critics say, the less we value the natural world and the more we degrade its offerings. Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, however, uses technology to do the opposite: to raise awareness of the fragile splendor living and breathing all around us.
Burrard-Lucas regularly travels the world to document everything from annual wildebeest migrations in the Serengeti to Komodo dragons lurking about Indonesian forests. Lately, though, Africa has become “[his] primary focus.” In honor of World Wildlife Day, we selected a handful of our favorite photos Burrard-Lucas has taken and talked with him about his work:
Childhood experiences greatly informed Burrard-Lucas' gravitation toward the world of wildlife photography. "As a child I lived in Tanzania for a few years and got to experience safari for the first time," Burrard-Lucas told All That Is Interesting. "I was immediately fascinated by African wildlife."
Over time — and after taking a dive into the documentaries of British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough — Burrard-Lucas decided to try his hand at documenting his own travels. "I picked up my first camera back in 2001 when I went on holiday to Namibia," Burrard-Lucas said. "Pretty much from that trip I became hooked on wildlife photography, and took every opportunity to get out in the field to take photos."
Over the past decade and a half, the photographer's travels have obviously enhanced his artistic and technical capabilities, even spurring some pretty major innovation. In 2010, Burrard-Lucas invented the BeetleCam, which he describes as a "remote control buggy for DSLR cameras."
This invention proved incredibly helpful for documenting what he told All That Is Interesting was the most personally impacting photo he has ever taken. While living in Zambia in 2012 and 2013, Burrard-Lucas set out to take photos of wild dogs living in South Luangwa National Park.
"One day I came across a pack of African Wild Dogs and enjoyed spending the morning with them," Burrard-Lucas said. "After taking some shots with my long lens, I decided to deploy BeetleCam. The dogs’ curiosity was instantly aroused and they crowded around BeetleCam and the camera. I had always dreamed of photographing wild dogs from this perspective and the resulting shots were exactly what I had hoped for."
That's not to say that all of Burrard-Lucas' field work is a thing of beauty. "I have witnessed firsthand the rate of destruction of the natural world and it can be very depressing," the photographer said. "I often work with researchers and conservationists who are dedicating their lives to protecting wildlife, [which] has given me an insight into the challenges many species and ecosystems are facing."
But to Burrard-Lucas, increased documentation means increased value — and if there is anything to be said for the 21st century, it's that technological innovation vastly increases the ways we can document reality, and share it with others. "Through my images," he says, "I aim to inspire people to celebrate and conserve the natural world."
Consider us inspired.