We are excited to introduce Marius Coetzee, a photography with over two decades of experience in over 25 countries. He has also been a long time Gura Gear user, carrying his gear all around the world in our Kiboko camera backpacks.
How did you get started in photography?
My journey in the safari industry began 22 years ago at the age of 18. While guiding my clients in some of the most predator rich national parks and reserves in South Africa, I decided to purchase a camera initially to merely document the incredible encounters I was witnessing daily. That’s how it all began for me.
What was the first camera you ever owned? And what are you shooting with these days? Any reason? If you had to pick one lens, could you? Which would it be?
My first ever camera was a Canon Rebel and Canon 100 - 400 lens IS. I have continued to exclusively use Canon gear since. My current equipment includes 2 x 1DX Canon Bodies (MKii) and (MKiii), and a wide range of lenses.
I would highly recommend the Canon 200 - 400 f4 or similar to any amateur wildlife photographer due to how versatile these lenses are. It is my own go-to lens and the first piece of equipment I pack inside my Kiboko v2.0 22L+ bag.
“The GuraGear Kiboko 22L+ is without a doubt the finest camera bag I have ever had the pleasure to use in my career spanning more than 2 decades. It keeps my gear safe and dry, and due to the remote locations I travel and photograph, it’s an absolute must. I greatly look forward to continue my travels around the globe with my Kiboko, as I know my gear will be safe, each and every time”
Where are you currently based?
I’m currently based on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius. While I travel for more than 250 days a year leading safari ‘s all over the globe, Mauritius is the ideal base for me due to its location.
What are some of your favorite places to photograph and why?
I am humbled to have led Photo Safaris to more than 25 countries worldwide. So, it’s hard to pick a few as there are so many incredible places on our beautiful Planet. Having said that, I will always love Ethiopia’s Omo Valley for its rich culture and India’s Ranthambore National Park to be in the presence of and photograph my favorite species, the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Who are some photographers that have inspired you and/or continue to?
Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols has always been a ‘role model’ photographer, especially for his groundbreaking work on Africa’s truly wild places. Shaaz Jung is a photographer who always inspires me to push my own boundaries.
What or where inspires you next?
Seeing and experiencing Planet Earth’s wildest and most remote destination and cultures is like no other. Also, every Photo Safari or Expedition that I guide inspires me to assist my clients capture their very best portfolio! Seeing a client learn new ‘tricks’ and capture their dream image gives me immense joy. That inspires me to work hard for my clients and continue to create awe-inspiring experiences.
What do you look for when creating a photograph? Do you go in any order like “light, subject, composition, action” or is it a different process?
While light, subject and composition are important and a given in creating stunning images, my approach to photography is not quite mechanical. For me, photography truly is an art. Nothing beats the feeling of being in the ‘flow’ while capturing a subject and doing justice to sharing their story whether it’s a male Lion walking across Kenya’s famed Masai Mara or the Waorani Tribe in the remote Amazon Jungle.
While creating powerful photographs, there’s a ‘split’ second where it’s only the subject and myself. This is where the magic happens.
How would you define your style of photography?
Good question. I find that as I continue to grow as a person, my style of photography reflects the same. As a result, my style of photography is constantly changing and evolving. As we grow, we see things differently. And perhaps, with even greater depths. So, as we grow, hopefully so does our style, and the story we want to tell with our photography.
How does photography play into your daily life? Do you have any specific practices on taking breaks or compartmentalizing?
As the Co-founder and CEO of ORYX Photo Tours, photography is the core of who I am both personally and professionally. ORYX specializes in tailor-made Photo Safaris to over 30 countries worldwide. So, for us it’s all about creating dream safaris for our clients. As part of that experience, we guide and help our clients with their photography, regardless of what level they are at. It’s an integral part of everything we do.
The art of Photography is my passion. I truly, eat, sleep and dream photography every single day.
What are some of the most interesting changes in photography that you’ve observed over your career?
That’s definitely the transition into digital photography. Social media has changed the game forever. Now anyone has the opportunity to showcase their work to the world. It’s very exciting to see some breathtaking images daily appearing on my feed. It keeps the photography game exciting and ever evolving.
How far do you go to capture a truly unique moment? And what is the craziest thing you’ve done to capture a photograph?
For me, the most important aspect is to not overthink photography. I simply grab my camera, rock up and allow nature to guide me and show me its wonders. The craziest experience I have ever had, and didn’t even manage to get a single image, was seeing a Snow Leopard in India’s Hemis National Park. We camped for 5-nights, long days, crazy hikes, and bitterly cold. It was magical.
Where can we find more of your work?
Can you tell us about the project(s) you’re currently working on?
As a Photo Guide and Leader, it’s all about creating those dream safaris and expeditions for our ORYX clients and helping them to capture that dream image or portfolio. So, in essence, every safari we put together for our client is a unique project. And we get to work on unique projects, aka experiences, every single day.