Sometimes, when a childhood dream takes you across the world, you have to pinch yourself to know it’s real. That, or the searing pain of a cheetah bite will do the trick.
For Shannon Benson, watching nature documentaries as a young girl led to a passion for photographing her pet reptiles, which blossomed into much more than just a hobby.
For nearly 20 years, Shannon (who is now professionally known by the moniker Shannon Wild) has been a wildlife photographer, cinematographer and conservationist. With clients ranging from National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, to United Nations, Converse, and even wildlife NGOs, Shannon’s career has been full of exciting and impactful adventures that have taken her around the world.
She’s also published 3 books and is an accomplished international speaker.
Recently we caught up with Shannon to learn how she got her start photographing wildlife, why she made the move from Australia to Africa, how PhotoShelter plays a role in her photo business and more.
Read on below to get to know Shannon and follow us on Instagram as we spend this week highlighting her work!
The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Cover image by Shannon Wild.
How did you get your start in photography?
I actually didn’t set out to become a wildlife photographer or filmmaker. I certainly dreamed of how amazing it would be as a young girl while watching nature documentaries, but I became a graphic designer and then art director as my career and in my free time volunteered as a wildlife rescuer.
I started photography as a hobby in my mid-twenties and after a few years I started a pet photography business while also continuing to photograph wildlife as much as possible. This was so much fun and an incredible way to practice my skills of photographing moving subjects.
Tell us about your time in Africa. How’d you get your start there?
I moved to South Africa from Australia in 2013 and am madly in love with it. I grew up dreaming of Africa while watching countless documentaries. After a decade of photographing wildlife while based in Australia I was ready for a change and the next stage of my career.
I sold everything I owned and moved to South Africa where I essentially had to start over. I didn’t have a body of work that showcased African wildlife or a network of clients, so I started working for free again, like I did at the beginning of my career. It was a challenging journey, especially being in a completely new part of the world, but it eventually paid off and I’ve had the chance to work throughout Africa and the rest of the world and was able to kickstart my wildlife cinematography career as well, now having filmed for National Geographic in several countries.
How does PhotoShelter help with your creative workflow and/or your photo business?
I’ve used PhotoShelter for what feels like forever now, certainly over a decade and I find it so useful.
I use it not only as my website ( www.shannonwild.com ) to promote my current work and press, but also as an online searchable archive that is shop-able.
Editor’s note: With PhotoShelter, Shannon is able to sell physical prints or products – including Lustre, Matte or Glossy prints and Canvas wraps – or digital downloads with rights-managed licensing options, too. Click here to learn how to get set up to sell.
Want to give PhotoShelter a try? Show, share and sell your work with our basic, standard or pro plans.
Anything else you’d like to share?
In 2017, I founded Wild In Africa® – Bracelets for Wildlife as a way to directly support the incredible wildlife conservation organizations I’ve worked with over the years. Like photography, designing jewelry is another creative outlet for me and being able to support conservation at the same time makes it even more rewarding.