(F)requently (A)sked (Q)uestions
Q1: What equipment / gear do you use?
I use a variety of gear depending on where and what I'm shooting. Currently I mostly use a Sony A7R2 body for photography. For filming, I prefer Sony FS700R which has a Super 35 sensor and can capture raw 4K footage. Very soon, I'll be filming videos about various equipmentS I use.
Body: Sony A7S3 // Sony A73 // Sony A7R2 // Sony A7S2 // Sony A6300 // Sony FS700R // Sony PXW Z100 // Canon 1DX // Canon 5dMkII // Canon Powershot G4 // Sony ZV-1 Vlogging Kit
Lens: Sony 200-600mm // Sony 70-200mm f2.8 // Canon 24-105mm f4.0 // Sigma 150-600mm Sport // Rokinon 14mm T3.1 // Sony 24-70mm f2.8 // Canon 400mm f2.8 // Canon 500mm f4.0 // Rokinon 24mm T1.5 // Laowa 24mm f14 Probe Lens
Support: Tilta Rig // Vocas Rig // Manfrotto 504HD Tripod // Benro A8 Tripod // Benro A6 Tripod // Tilta Cage // Zhiyun Crane 2
Other: Syrp Genie Mini Motion Controller // Cinetech 360 Motor Slider // GoPro Hero 4+ // DJI Osmo // Edelkrone Slider Set
Bags: Pelican, Lowepro, Patrol Bags, Case Logic, Vanguard 46F, Benro Ranger Backpack
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro Smart Controller // DJI Phantom 3 Pro // DJI Mavic Air
Computer: Apple iMac 27" // Apple MacBook Pro 15"
Mobile: iPhone 7 // Black Eye Lens Pro Kit
Q2: Can I be your assistant, do you have internship programs?
My project teams are determined months in advance. Therefore, once the projects are announced, all the positions are usually full. However, I strongly advise you to follow my social media accounts because I announce all job opportunities through social media.
My production house is called Marine Blue Films, which handles all the editing of photos & films. It is located in Bursa, Turkey. There is always an opportunity for internship at MBF in the fields of editing, color correction and filming. Although internship is short term and it is NOT a paid position, we arrange accommodation for interns coming out of town for office jobs. For field work, it's either camping or accommodation is where the team is staying. However, it is always possible to start as an intern at MBF and make your way into a full time teammate.
Q3: How do you get to travel this much?
Traveling is one of the key components of my job and also a true passion of mine. Almost none of my travels are for vacation or leisure. Therefore, when I’m traveling, I am most probably shooting for a project or on a research trip for a future project.
Q4: What did you study? And how did you get a job like this?
This is one of the most frequent questions I get asked. I actually studied business at the university. My passion for nature and photography started at high school with trekking and grew with off-roading and camping at the university. After studying business, I started working in the chemical industry as a sales and marketing specialist. But a business trip to Africa in 2003 changed my life forever. I quit my job in 2007 and established a travel agent, organizing tailor made photo safaris to less traveled wildlife destinations. In 2008, HD filming capabilities were introduced to DSLR’s and I started filming short clips and editing them to be used as my promotional material. My first documentary film was “In Search of the Jaguar” and it was aired on Kanal 1 (Turkish TV channel) in 2009. I quit everything and decided to become a full time documentary filmmaker in 2012.
Q5: How hard is being a wildlife photographer / filmmaker? Can anyone do it?
Anyone with the interest and passion can become a wildlife photographer. Although it helps greatly with the quality of the end product, heavy expensive equipment and long tele lenses are not a must. There are two very important ingredients of being a wildlife photographer: research and patience. Without learning about animal behaviors, habitats and the answers for "where" and "when" questions for any species, it is not possible to take great photos. There will be very long waits, in a car or under a hide, sometimes in freezing cold conditions, sometimes under heavy rain and sometimes in extremely hot conditions. Most of these times, you won’t be able to get the desired photo. Therefore, if you are not a patient person, this line of photography might not be ideal for you.
Documentary film making on the other hand is a team effort. Starting from research and planning to filming and editing, it’s an end product with many different levels and it requires a bigger team and a bigger budget.
Q6: Is it a dangerous profession? How are you protected against wild animals? What is the scariest thing that has ever happened?
As in every other job, wildlife photography has certain dangers as well. But contrary to popular belief, greatest threat does not come from wild animals such as lions, bears or snakes. In many places around the world, especially the tropic regions, there are some infectious diseases such as malaria, yellow fever etc. Most of hem are carried by mosquitos. While you can be protected from some of them with a simple vaccination or a tablet, some don’t have very effective precautions. In some of the regions we work in, there is civil war, tribal conflicts or even pirates and bandits. Many governments require us to have armed protection and local guides while we are filming. In some high-risk zones, we film accompanied by a small army. The most dangerous and frightening experience I’ve had was human related. While I was filming along the border of Kenya and Somalia, a terrorist group attacked the region and killed hundreds of people and we barely made it to a safe place. Animals can also possess a threat but we never push our limits and corner them. Usually the most dangerous animals are the smallest and poisonous ones such as bees, scorpions, spiders and ants, which you can’t see easily. I’ve never had a very serious problem with big mammals because you can usually anticipate their next move and they let you know that their displeased with a grunt, gesture or a mock charge. I’ve been chased by rhinos, African elephants and an occasional wild boar but probably the most frightening experience I’ve ever had was with a silverback in Rwanda.
Q7: What have you filmed until now, where can I watch them?
I’ve filmed my first documentary in Brazil in 2008. The 28 minute documentary was called “In Search of the Jaguar” and was aired on Kanal 1 in 2009. I’ve filmed a 13 episode wildlife TV series in 2014 in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda and it was aired on TRT Belgesel (Turkish national TV network) in 2015. I’ve filmed a lot of documentaries for the Turkish National Parks about protected areas or species in Turkey. I’ve filmed a 52 minute feature documentary called “Wildlife of South Africa” in 2015 and it was aired on TRT Belgesel in the beginning of 2016. All these documentaries are still running once a week on the Turkish network. In 2017, I’ve done two projects: “Remarkable Rwanda”, a 52 minute feature documentary on Rwanda and “Namibia Diaries”, an 8 episode TV series on Namibia. I filmed a children's documentary called "Mini Documentary Kids" which is a 130 episode kid's show consisting 2 minute documentaries. My most recent work is called "Yaren" and it's available on my YouTube channel. My work is currently shown in 68 countries around the world.