Where do I even begin? Maybe… Maybe first I’ll begin by introducing myself. Hopefully by now, all of you reading this know that I am a volunteer photographer with African Impact, based on their Wildlife Photography and Conservation Project. But who on earth am I?
My name is Dylan Fisher Schattman. I am 21 years old studying Wildlife Biology at the University of Vermont. As long as I can remember, creative expression has always been a major part of my life. Whether it is drawing, writing, dancing, skateboarding, etc. I have always loved the idea of viewing things as deeper than what they are and applying these inner reflections to a use greater than my own. Creativity in itself is my main passion. In regards to a more constructive approach, I dream of applying my passion to help spread awareness towards protecting the natural world.
To be honest, I had no idea of what to expect prior to coming here to South Africa. Maybe I thought I would be surrounded by older ladies, hunched over their Sudoku and gawking over lost photos of grandchildren or maybe I expected a rambunctious group of young explorers, embarking on escapades of unanticipated adventure disguised by Patagonia sweaters and undiscovered destinies. I had absolutely no idea that the beginning to the start of my life would be sparked by a bunch of young (and old) enthusiastic individuals gathered around a MacBook exploring the depths of our own photographs. What I got from my time here with African Impact is nothing short of an experience of a lifetime; an experience that will forever change how I view the world.
Aside from my duties here with African Impact, I take photographs in order to test the limits of my own personal creative boundaries. Now I know more than most that this must all sound so incredibly cliché BUT to put it simply exploring photography has completely changed my perspective on how I view the physical world. I guess maybe that’s not as easy to understand as it sounds but let me try to explain. I love the beauty in broken things. I love the way tears well in someone’s eyes when they are overwhelmed with laughter. I love the way the earth smells the moment before it rains. I love the way rust grows on metal like that of wrinkles on skin from old age. I love being able to capture something deeper within a specific moment of time. Through photography, I can continue to express the beauty of everyday objects and apply them to real world situations in attempts to provide a deeper understanding of the naturally existing world. Objects contain so much personality that really can only be captured by photographs. Through photographing nature, I have begun to develop a deeper understanding of the importance between mankind and man’s connection to the environment.
Nature photography in particular has taught me to appreciate the little things in life. African Impact and its leaders have taught me the importance of sitting down and deeply investing time into the space around my feet. There is so much that can’t be seen at first glance from scurrying spiders to anxious termites. From “Tim-tips” to Lilla Szanto’s patience, I have not only grown as a photographer but as a person in terms of how I view the world. Whether that is from macro walks or long editing sessions, African Impact has taught me the true value behind the beauty of the little things.
I am so thankful to be able to physically observe my growth as a photographer and capture the moments in which I myself also change.
Until next time, until the next beautiful little nothing that catches my attention, “adios”, “doei”, and “goodbye”.