The Lake Project: Lowering My Standards

For my senior project, I traveled to Zimbabwe and did wildlife photography in the Zambezi National Park. I worked for an organization called African Impact, who upload the photos to their online database where they are sold to companies or accessed by nonprofits for free. For example, World Wildlife Fund used seven images from the database for last year’s calendar.

While I was there, the standard of my photos had to be extremely high. I was not turning on my camera and taking pictures of everything I saw. Being selective is difficult, and what is even more difficult is finding the best pictures, editing them to make them top quality, and then submitting them to be reviewed for the database. Of the roughly 750 photos I took, less than ten will be placed on the database.

For the past six months, I have been treating my catalog of the species at the lake like African Impact’s database. Every photo I took had to be of top quality for me to want to include it, and this has left me with an underwhelming group of photos to use for the catalog. So, when I came back from the project, it was my resolution to lower my standards a bit to fill out the catalog. Today, I did just that.

As I walked around the lake today, I turned on my camera at every sign of movement and every slight sound. It was exhausting! But, I saw quite a few birds, and this season is prime for taking pictures of them as many are traveling through the area or arriving back to the lake but there are still no leaves on the trees making them easy to spot. One such bird that was everywhere, some so close I almost stepped on them, was the robin.


This photo is nothing special. It is not particularly artsy, sharp, or up-close, but it will work just fine for the catalog. Instead of spending hours trying to get the perfect shot of one of the robins, I can spend five minutes getting an acceptable one. By doing this, I was able to get several other photos of different birds as well.

My other favorite from the day was the eastern kingbird:

Eastern Kingbird

This is another example of a photo that is not excellent, but will work well for the catalog. In order to make this catalog actually useful, not just be a collection of my best photos, I have to be willing to accept that not all the photos in the catalog will be of top notch quality. However, you can see the details and the defining characteristics of this type of fly catcher making it a workable photo.

To me, these are the kind of photos I would show my family coming back from vacation. These aren’t ones that would go into my portfolio, but if I wanted to show someone something I saw, these would work great for that purpose. And essentially, that is what the catalog is.

Have a great week!


4 thoughts on “The Lake Project: Lowering My Standards

  1. amaanstewart

    This is really cool Dex! Were any of your photos chosen for the database? Keep up the good work!

  2. cynthiaruan

    I think it’s great that you recognize the importance of lowering your standards, because sometimes that might be even harder than maintaining a high standard.


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