Thanda Private Game Reserve in South Africa is 14,000 hectares of unspoilt African bush, and home to the Big Five. It is in this stunning setting that you can spend 6-8 weeks learning and developing your photgraphy skills whilst contributing to the conservation of the reserve. Natasha Ovely from the US told us about her first 2 weeks on our Photography Project: "Before my arrival at Thanda, I distinctly remember scribbling away anxiously in my notebook about my scepticism and possible problems/ethics with wildlife photography- it seemed to me that pictures of wildlife can be much like grossly airbrushed models in a magazine, somewhat hyperreal and unrelatable. We have no point of reference that allows us to reach further into the context of these beautiful pictures apart from our experience of seeing the animals in zoos, which of course is entirely different to seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. When you see a picture of a dog curled up in its bed you could picture the action of it turning round and round in circles until its ready to lie down, you can hear the little snort or sigh it makes once it is comfortable... David Attenbrough of course has served us a TV audience well with his soothing narration and epic slow motion shots in his documentaries; but photographs pose an entirely different problem. My first week was spent agonising over these problems and debating it at length with our incredible photography tutor Paul Greenway- when I saw each animal for the first time my camera’s reaction was almost like an epileptic fit, it seemed to be clicking away under my white knuckled fingers, afraid that I wouldn’t have proof of each incredible event. This crazed reaction led to me feeling like I missed the actual experience, as everyone at some point realises the fact that taking a photograph essentially takes you out of the moment, flattening everything into a frame. I worried about the animals reaction to us, were we interfering, what is really natural in this environment? The cheetah brothers I found convey the most human expression of disappointment as our game vehicle followed them as they routinely walked along the fence while others barely blinked in our direction (which I now realise was partly because of the intense heat that first week), the cubs/ calfs were the most curious looking directly at us... In the second week as the heat subsided I saw the animals interact with us and each other even more, we saw the entire North Pride playing with the cubs which was a significantly touching moment seeing how distinct their characters and relationships are. Every week I make peace with one or two of my conundrums, either learning to translate it into an image or recognising its exclusivity as an experience, learning and being eternally grateful every step of the way..." Another of our volunteers from the States, George Velesko, created this incredible 360 panoramic view. Also check out this blog by returning volunteer Jessie Zamichow. Photo credits: Lions - Stephanie Frankle Zebras - Shannon Brady Elephants - Alina Riensema Big Cats - Jessie Zamichow We also have a Photography Project based at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: Assist in vital conservation research and experience amazing photographic opportunities in the Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Parks - undoubtedly amongst the most impressive wildlife areas in Southern Africa. And if it's Lions you're interested in, then our project at Antelope Park, Zimbabwe could be for you: Set on this stunning exclusive private game reserve in Zimbabwe, you will have the unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph a semi-wild pride of African lions knowing that your images will be used to help in the future release of lions from this unique conservation project.