We are back with another Hahnemühle Photography Month. This year we want to show how diverse photography and fine art printing is and can be. Each week we will focus on selected highlights and topics. During our first week, we will talk about Wildlife and Landscape Photography and how it can follow a mission. Together with our friends from Prints for Wildlife, we will share various videos, images and interviews from participating photographers.
Mike Dexter is another photographer which we interviews for our series during the first week of the Hahnemühle Photography Month.
Could you introduce yourself in 3-4 sentences?
My name is Mike Dexter. I am from South Africa and I am a professional wildlife photographer.
How and When did you figure out you wanted to become a Wildlife/Nature photographer?
“I think it started with my first visit to a game reserve when I was 5 or 6. I knew then that I wanted nothing more than to live a life alongside free and wild animals in wilderness areas. I started reading field guides to the mammals of southern Africa, watching every documentary I could find. It was like this burning need to immerse myself in the wild. Photography came much later.
I went to boarding school when I was 11 and to show my mom and dad what I was getting up to I started taking photos with an old camera that was gathering dust at home. They were just happy snap type photos but I really enjoyed taking them and gradually I started learning how to tell stories with images. My interest in photography really revved up when I got my first digital camera, with 3.2mp it was cutting edge stuff and I started getting more creative and deliberate.
At university I chose to study photojournalism and after graduating I took up my first full time position in the bush. This is when my passion for wildlife and my interest in photography really came together for the first time. That was 12 years ago.
I’ve only ever photographed subjects that are wild and free and I’ve always aimed to capture what I see and feel in the moment in camera as best I can and don’t digitally manipulate my images to be something that they are not. I think that this stemmed from my training as a photojournalist where image manipulation is strictly taboo. I believe that photographs carry with them a level of assumed authenticity so as a photographer I feel it’s my responsibility to portray the natural world as just that, natural and true to form.”
Why do you print your images?
“For me the print is the finished product. Wildlife photography is a multi step process starting with the planning of the trip, tracking and finding subjects, the photography itself, the processing of the digital files and finally, printing. I feel that I’m doing a disservice to my subjects if their photographs exist only as megabytes on a hard drive. There’s something special about a printed image – it has a tangible physical presence that imbues it with a power that can evoke strong emotional responses in people which a digital image just doesn’t do and it’s this strong emotional response that carries the potential to make a difference for conservation.”
When it comes to the paper choice – why did you go for Hahnemühle?
“When I first starting printing I knew nothing about paper. I just printed on whatever the shop attendant recommended. Over time though I started talking to other photographers and artists and they all seemed to know, and care, about paper types…a lot! So I started asking around and the overwhelming choice was Hahnemühle. When I received my first print on Hahnemühle Photorag I was blown away by the weight, texture, contrast and colours and I’ve never looked back.”
Why do you support Prints for Wildlife with your work and why do you think the cause is important?
“The first time that I worked with African Parks was in Malawi in 2015. They had just taken over the management of two parks in the country and I was blown away by the impact that they had had in the short time that they’d been on the ground. Since then my belief in the organisation and what they stand for has only grown and I see Prints for Wildlife as an opportunity to contribute in my own small way. The work that African Parks does for conservation in Africa is unparalleled and the dedication and commitment to the future of the continent’s wildlife and national parks is astounding.”
Prints for Wildlife is a fundraiser aiming to ensure protected areas continue to deliver benefits to people and wildlife during the COVID pandemic. More than 170 wildlife photographers, including renown international and emerging and local wildlife photogrpahers, have come together to mobilise needed support for one cause: to continue the protection of vital landscapes in Africa. The fundraiser runs from 11 July to 11 August 2021. All funds collected via the print sale go directly to conservation non-profit African Parks. The price per print is 100 USA excluding shipping. 100% of the proceeds (after printing and handling) will be donated to African Parks. All prints are printed on our sustainable Natural Line Paper Hahnemühle Hemp from our Digital FineArt Collection.
Make sure to check out the images Mike donated to the Prints for Wildlife fundraiser.