Fake Wildlife Photos
By: Max Blakesberg
Max Blakesberg’s “fake wildlife photos” series is a compilation of fine art photography captured throughout 2017 and 2018 ranging over 2 continents and multiple different countries
Intertwined- My first full day in Kenya consisted of me and my family going to the David Sheldrick wildlife trust where we got to participate in a feeding time with the orphaned and rehabilitating elephants. I didn’t know really what to expect going into it as I had never gotten to take photos of animals this close before, but the moment we walked in to the reserve all rational thought went out the window and I was getting up close with these juvenile elephants taking as many photos as I could, as I was taking pictures I turned around and saw these two elephants wrap their trunks around each other in such an endearing way it was mind blowing. After getting these shots the first thought I had was “this trip is going to be ridiculous and we haven’t even been here 24 hours”
Perception- While continuing on the next leg of my journey in Africa I stayed in the Lewa wildlife reserve at a beautiful lodge named Sirikoi camp. Here we had local Samburu warriors as our guide for the next few days while beginning the official safari portion of the trip. Every day it was like walking straight into a scene from lion king, there was wild animals roaming in every direction, in this instance we were out on our morning tour when we stumbled across an adult elephant walking along a trail. I had asked the driver if we could get a bit closer and almost immediately after I said that the elephant looked up at us and stared as we moved closer. The entire time I was taking photos I was thinking to myself “I wonder how this creature perceives us?” It was giving us this inquisitive look the entire time that just gave off the impression it understood and almost enjoyed being watched.
Instinct- My final photo from Africa is one of my all time favorite photos I have ever taken. We were on our third and final stop of the safari portion of the trip, where we were staying in an area known as Masai Mara which is one of the most popular locations in Kenya. While beginning to settle down for the day with a large storm coming our guide ran over to our tents to tell us they had just spotted a Female leopard who had just had a fresh kill and this is a rare opportunity to see nature in its rawest form. Immediately I hopped into the Land Rover with lens and cameras in hand and we drove like madmen to where the leopard had last been seen. After searching around for a minute we spotted her, she had climbed a 20ft tree and was perched up there eating her fresh kill while balancing on a tree branch. I was freaking out, this was absolutely surreal, out of everything we had seen so far this was the wildest moment of the entire trip, and as I’m standing there taking photos she stops and proceeds to look up at me. Immediately all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I start feeling an adrenaline rush but without hesitation continue to take photos. Shortly after it began to storm and we returned to the campsite where I sorted through my photos and was in shock when I came across this shot. I don’t think I had ever been so excited about a photo before in my life.
Transcending- Photography is all about finding your niche, and for me I think I found taking photos of wildlife is mine, but I wanted to focus on something even more specific so over the last 8 months I’ve taken on underwater photography. Living in South Florida gives me a ton of opportunity to photograph underwater wildlife because I’m literally living 10 minutes from the beach. So after some time spent practicing I went out and began to take photos of turtles off the coast. This was my third time out photographing underwater and my first time using my own gear. After swimming around for 10 minutes I came across this lone turtle that seemed comfortable enough for me to get close and get some shots. While photographing the turtle it seemed like time was standing still, and that we weren’t even in water, but just floating in mid air. It was pretty spectacular getting to see this in person.
Apex- My final photo was a mixture of luck, timing and I want to say bravery (however I was definitely freaking out the entire time). This was my first time diving with sharks, without a cage or any means to protect myself. I had hopped in the water and was swimming around for under 5 minutes before out of the blue (literally) these giants began to swim out from the depths. I immediately began snapping photos and hoping I would accidentally bump into one of them while shooting. After a few minutes I got more comfortable around them and began to dive down, only 10 or 15 feet at a time to get a closer look. On the third dive down this guy just started creeping into the frame and I was able to get a few shots before coming back up for air. Once we got back on land I sorted through my shots and thought this was in a way comical, its as if he was just cruising by and happened to stop, say hi and proceed on his way. Since then I have become addicted to diving with these creatures, its such an amazing feeling being able to capture such ancient and massive creatures in their own habitat.
Meet the photographer-
My name is Max Blakesberg, I am a 22 year old photographer based in Boca Raton, Florida. I currently attend Florida Atlantic University where I am studying psychology. I began taking photos as a hobby when I was 12 years old, and at the time didn’t think much of it other then it being something fun to do. It wasn’t until after I took a trip to Patagonia in southern Chile that I realized this could be more than just a hobby. In the years following I began to create a diverse portfolio that gave me the opportunity to travel the world and capture unique experiences.