Shawu Photography was started in 2010 by wildlife photographer Petri Nienaber. The name SHawu comes from Shawu the Elephant, who got his name from the Shawu valley where he lived. He was one of the famous magnificent seven big tuskers of the Kruger National park. Shawu Photography was started to give young and old, beginner and professional photographers a portal to affordable wildlife destinations in Southern Africa.
I grew up travelling Southern Africa extensively. My mom’s love for nature and birding in particular, gave me the opportunity to spend many hours in the veldt, and it was in those hours that I fell in love with Africa’s breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife and ethnic diversity.
My passion for photography started in primary school as I always tried capturing our family holidays on camera. Unfortunately, it was quite expensive to develop all that film, so I never really followed my passion. It was only in 2007 when I started working, and digital cameras became more affordable, that I bought my first camera. A Canon 450D, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 70-300, and the old trusty Canon 18-55. Since then I’ve never looked back.
We are a group of friends who explore Southern-Africa with our 4×4’s and rooftop tents, and I’m fortunate to have seen many interesting places with them. I soon realised the photographic opportunities in countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa is so unique, where else can you;
Sleep amongst lions, drive in a wildlife haven without seeing another vehicle for two days, witness a pack of wild dogs hunting on a main transit road, camp on a cut line underneath the stars, walk through a river full of crocs and hippos to check if it’s crossable, sit with a pride of lions, get stuck in the Savuti marsh all by yourself for 3hours, camp in the middle of a salt pan with only the stars as company, walk among wildlife on foot, entertain a herd of elephants on camp, drive in the Kalahari desert with no rain in sight and still see water slowly filling all the channels of the Delta and creating a wildlife spectacle that not many people will be able to see and appreciate in their lifetime. And there are many more!!
We all love the outdoors and always want to see the unspoiled parts of our continent. The reality is that there aren’t that many places left that still have a part of the true Africa in it. So we need to appreciate the scenery, wildlife and every sunset and sunrise that we have the privilege to experience. For these reasons I promise myself to explore Africa with every opportunity I get. “Till I’m dead or broke…”
These words haunted me for quite a while. Will I really keep venturing and exploring Africa till I’m dead or broke? Mmmm…bold statement I thought. Will high prices or commercialisation affect my feelings towards Africa? Will too many fences or people keep me away? Will I get tired of camping or exploring? What about kids one day? Will they enjoy Africa? Maybe the biggest question is…Will Africa remain an unspoiled wilderness?
I soon realised that I would never be able to answer these questions, the only definite is the present. So I decided not to worry about what the future may hold. Rather than worry about it too much, I will cherish and enjoy, every sunset, the good, the bad, the laughs, the tears, the ups, the downs, the people, the places, the wildlife, every moment and every day that I’m able to experience Africa.
Through my lens, I will capture her beauty and try to keep her safe. And then, when the day comes that I need to answer one of my questions above, I will do so without regret.