Nicole Cambré is a travel, street and wildlife photographer from Brussels. Her work is focused on documenting the mood of unexpected moments on her many journeys off the beaten track. Recently, her picture “The Great Migration” won in the Nature category of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2014. Photographers from over 150 countries had submitted their work – and Nicole’s jumping wildebeest at the Mara River in the North Serengeti (Tanzania) brought home the bacon.
Nicole, when and how did you get into photography?
Photography has been a long time passion, but I only got more serious about it when I started studying photography in evening classes at the end of 2011 at the photo academy in Brussels.
Which skills does a good photographer need to have, what does he or she need to be like?
In my opinion, they need to be flexible, think outside the box and have an eye for photographic opportunities whenever they arise and be able to adapt to the situation quickly!
Which ones of your own abilities or traits have proved useful for you as a photographer?
Some of my best photographs were completely unplanned and I only achieved good results because I managed to react very quickly. Often, where I am, there is no time to play around with camera settings to get the shot. So I generally pre-select a fast shutter speed and the aperture, and use the auto iso function to compensate the exposure. I also love my Sigma 50-500 lens because of its flexibility, and while it is not the perfect lens in all circumstances, it is the most flexible one. It also works with my style of photography, as it helps me to get the picture even though it may not be the perfect shot – but often, without the lens, I would not have been able to capture the image in the first place. Therefore, I use it as my default lens, unless I have a clear plan upfront what to photograph, and then I switch to another lens.
Prior to selecting a particular travel destination, I search the internet for images taken in that particular location, and then decide which equipment to pack – but when I get there, I end up doing my own thing. As I generally photograph when traveling with the family, I have limited time at a particular place, so I need to be fast and flexible. I try to keep it simple: no artificial light or artificial backgrounds, and I rarely use a tripod.
What makes a trademark Nicole Cambré photography?
Everything has been photographed so many times. My National Geographic winning image of a jumping wildebeest is a wildlife photograph, but I do not see myself as a wildlife photographer. I hope to be able to photograph in a way that people see a signature in my work, whether I photograph people, places, nature or any other thing whatsoever, and irrespective of the specific technique I use. I like to experiment with different techniques, such as infrared and light field technology to do something different, but still within my own style.
Your favorite country to photograph?
My absolutely favorite place to photograph is Greenland – but besides loving the cold, I have a special passion for Africa.
Do you think you can make a difference as a photographer?
By joining projects like Photocircle, I can! It enables me to give something back. I am already sponsoring projects in Ethiopia and Zambia with the proceeds of my images, and my photo book “She” consisting of my African women portraits was sold entirely for the benefit of the World Childhood Foundation. Now, I am hoping to make an even bigger difference by working with Photocircle to support a project for women in Zambia.
Your next project?
Spitsbergen and Mongolia!
What will your portfolio look like in ten years?
I hope my travel photography portfolio will expand further, as this would mean I will be in good health and able to continue to travel and learn about other cultures.
You can find Nicole’s award winning photo “The Great Migration”, as well as many other beautiful pieces of her work in her gallery on Photocircle.
With her sales on Photocircle, Nicole Cambré supports the gender project of a Zambian NGO called Project Luangwa. Project Luangwa is a charitable organisation working in south Luangwa, a rural area of Zambia. Through improving education in schools and creating training opportunities, they give families the chance of a lasting and sustainable income. The project is focused on girls, who in rural Zambia face many problems which put their health at risk and prevent them from getting a good education – which in return prevents them from lifting themselves out of these conditions. This cycle of poverty starts early, and girls are most vulnerable during adolescence. Born into poor families, many girls fail to stay in school, because they get married or have to work in order to survive.