Wildlife Photographer Feature: Interview with Peter Langer

Biography 

Peter Langer, B.A., B.Sc., M.A. is one of Canada’s leading travel and wildlife photographers. His photographs have appeared in hundreds of books and magazines worldwide and have been exhibited on several continents.

Mr. Langer has travelled to over 180 countries and territories. He is also an award-winning travel writer. He is proud to include among his clients some of the world’s leading magazines and publishers, advertising agencies, public broadcasters, government agencies, tourism offices, airlines, cruise lines, destination management companies and global tour operators. View his website here.

Wildlife Photography - Kenya

Interview

As a world traveller, explorer, and collector of stories through your lens, what is your experience of having to stay at home?

Not unlike my normal life. Usually when I return from a long journey, I spend quite some of time working on the photographs, not only from a technical point of view, but also sorting, editing, captioning, and keywording these. I also produce multi-image audio-visual video, which I use during travel lectures and classes. I had just returned from Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading around the world. I spent my time working on the wonderful images I got of Iguazú Falls this time, the amazing modern architecture of Brasilia and of the flamingos in the high Andes and the Salar de Uyuni in the rainy season in Bolivia. The only thing I had to regrettably cancel was a trip to Pakistan that had been scheduled for March-April. It will be rescheduled for September or early next year. The best thing at the moment is to allow for a lot of flexibility to one’s travel plans and to lower expectations.

Wildlife Photography

How have you been passing the time?

Sadly, the last two classes of my courses at Simon Fraser University “In the Footsteps of the Incas: A Virtual Tour of Peru, Bolivia & Ecuador” and “From Cairo to Timbuktu: A Virtual Tour of Lost Kingdoms of Africa” were cancelled due to the Coronavirus emergency and I truly miss the interaction with the audience.

Since then, I have been preparing two courses with World Heritage as the subject matter, for SFU: “From Abu Simbel to Brasilia: A Virtual Tour of our World’s Heritage” and “A Virtual Tour through the Vanishing Heritage of the Middle East”. Since there is no certainty that classes and lectures will resume in Fall 2020, I have carefully been developing alternative online delivery methods.

You were in Zimbabwe in 1995 – what was your favourite memory? 

My favorite memory was to fly over Victoria Falls in an ultra-light plane at sunset. The light was perfect, and the unobstructed view made for fantastic photographs that I still use to this day.

Wildlife Photographer - Victoria Falls

You had mentioned you are planning to go back to Zimbabwe, looking at your pictures now – what would you photograph differently? What would you be looking for? 

I would not photograph anything differently. What has changed in the past 25 years is the technology and images produced by digital cameras are so much sharper. Furthermore, I only visited Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, and Harare in 1995. The country has some many other places to see, such as Hwange National Park, the Matobo Hills, Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas.

You are a master wildlife photographer – what is your favourite African animal to photograph?

I love lemurs, who are native only to the island of Madagascar. They are small, and their faces with pointed snouts and large eyes make for wonderful portraits. As there are around 100 species of these adorable creatures allow for quite a bit of variety in photographic terms. I had the chance to see lemurs remarkably close, as I sat on a rocky outcrop next to the tree line in Isalo National Park.

Wildlife Photographer - Lemurs in Madagascar

I just patiently waited and watched ring-tailed lemurs and their babies pursuing their day-to-day activities and at one point one of them decided to sit next to me, as it was grooming its tail. At another occasion, a Common Brown Lemur jumped on me in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. It was one of the gentlest animal encounters I have experienced. Their fur is incredibly soft, and you leave with the impression, as to how fragile these creatures really are. Ultimately cute and cuddly wins the day!

Any tips how one can practice photography at home?

In Canada we are enjoying Spring right now, so there is an abundance and hummingbirds in addition to beautiful light. This is a good time to practice photography, especially if you intend to go on an exotic wildlife safari later. It is a good idea to practice capturing moving subjects, such as dogs in parks or bears in the forest to see what you can accomplish with your gear. As the saying goes – practice makes perfect.

Wildlife Phototgrapher

Which African country truly captured your soul?

Ethiopia. The North is filled with the art and architecture stemming and magnificent cultural heritage inherited from past generations. During Genna, the Ethiopian Christmas Eve, I went to a local church in Bahir Dar for midnight mass. Upon entering the church, the parishioners immediately procured a chair for me, just behind the local patriarch. It is kindness and hospitality like this that make traveling such a worthwhile experience.

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