Film and Photography
The whole experience at GG Conservation was amazing. Lions literally 10 feet or so outside the front door of Lion House. Roaring and chatter between the lions on and off all day and night was incredible. It’s a truly unique experience that has to be had. Suzanne and Pat were both amazing and I feel like I made 2 new friends. I will come back here without a doubt. From a professional viewpoint the photographic opportunities are phenomenal. The magnificent lions, the landscape, scenery, light and colours were excellent for cinematography and videography. You won’t see lions this beautiful anywhere else. I have people constantly asking me “how did you get that close to those lions” There are some parts of the outer reserve which look very truly wild, and also a few lion camps which are full of natural African bush and resemble the living conditions of wild lions which was fantastic for photography. I am looking forward to my return to make use of the new photographic cage and plexiglass glass cube for different perspective and access filming and photography.
I was fortunate enough to have been invited to GG Conservation to photograph the lions. It was an unforgettable experience. I will never forget waking up at 5.30 am to meet Pat Shannon and Suzanne Scott for an early morning walkaround. The early warm light really accentuated the African savannah colours and gave an even richer tone to those beautiful lions. I have been in many zoos and safari parks and have never seen more magnificent specimens than the lions at GG Conservation. What made it even more special to photograph, was that the lions were in incredibly large spaces, and it was really easy to take photos of them in what appeared to be in their natural habitat. What impressed me as well was how well the lions were cared for, I have been in other places where it was obvious to see that the lions were distressed from lack of care and insufficient space to feel free. The accommodation is incredible, you are literally living amongst the lions, going to sleep at night, listening to the male lions roar will be a memory that stays with me for life.
When I came to SA this spring, I had a clear idea what I was looking for, as always. Many things needed to be pointed out before, finding the best places to go for making a strong lion portrait. We went to several places and the content I got was decent. Our last stop was at GG, a no profit organization (... better your own description). The manager Suzanne and the owner Pat hosted us more as friends than as customers. Any idea I had for getting closer to the lions they realized for me. Finally I spend many hours with all the different beautiful creatures who are not only „lions“. GG hosts around 77 lions, many of them look so special and extra .. wild, strong, old, beautiful as you can’t find in this variation in the open wild. There was one lion I could not take my eyes away from, Smokey, a very strong old boy who really looks like the real lion king, I came so close to him, using my favorite lens for a full framed portrait 135/2.0 and the present I got from Smokey is properly my all times best lion portrait - thank you very much, King Smokey!
Having been to GG Conservation on multiple occasions, every experience there has been exceptional. Suzanne, Pat and the lion team have always gone out of their way to endeavour to get me the access to the lions and the shots I wanted. From a commercial and stills perspective, access to the lion enclosures was generally excellent, even with safety being their number 1 priority I found close encounter access to the lions relatively easy to gain for the shots I required. Some of the large natural habitat enclosures have fantastic landscapes and have a great aesthetic appeal for filming, with various different lion prides and enclosures giving a number of unique looks to the backgrounds, including a natural dam. Given that the location also has a mountain on the land, it proves fantastic for landscape and scenic shots, as well as having a large number of free roaming antelope species on the reserve. I stayed in Lion House which is a relatively rustic, quite basic but very comfortable private house inside the lion sanctuary, which had all the amenities needed. No where else on earth could you live at such close proximity to the magnificent lions there.
I would like to thank Suzanne and her team at GG Conservation for their tremendous help and assistance during my stay, with my sole purpose being to film these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. It was truly a rewarding experience, your animals, being so well looked after, made perfect subjects for my filming. Furthermore, the lovely sunrises and sunsets on the reserve, along with the natural surroundings, made excellent filming opportunities. The lion cage really allowed me to come close-up to these awesome specimens, so much so, that i could actually smell them. I honestly got some stunning close -up footage from being ‘locked up’ inside the lion cage. The camera port holes made the filming so much easier.