PHOTOGRAPHY – A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE AT PHANG NGA ELEPHANT PARK!
by Volunteer Brennan Finn
If you love photography and taking pictures of animals, then as a Volunteer you will have endless fantastic material throughout your stay at this amazing Park. Every morning I wake up at 6 am, grab the “Park Camera” (Canon EOS Rebel 3) and set out filled with excitement of what I might capture that day.
When you volunteer here, I recommend you carry a camera with you at all times because beautiful moments can come and go very quickly. For example, you will spot a sweet tender moment between kwan-chaang (mahout) and his elephant, or the look on a guest’s face when they fulfil a lifelong dream of interacting with an elephant. It is also be a good idea to bring a computer, or some way of viewing/editing photos because you will be taking hundreds, probably thousands of pictures during your stay! We have even had a Volunteer who used a drone (see the amazing video by Joe Dixon here), but he was a film studies graduate.
What I particularly like to do is take photos of the kwan-chaangs when they are with their elephants away from the public eye. Our kwan-chaangs have such a passionate love for their animals, and it is always special to capture those moments during an afternoon bath, or sometimes (with P’Lek’s permission) when a Volunteer can accompany the kwan-chaangs as they take their elephants into the jungle for grazing or down to the river to bathe. Anyone can take a picture of an elephant, but I try to take photos that make me feel something special. And that’s not difficult here.
I feel one of the main jobs of a Volunteer, besides welcoming and educating our guests, is to market the Park through social media and photography. Volunteers post daily to Facebook and Instagram, giving lots of information and news about guests’ time here and their experiences with elephants, or just some cute tender moments we see every day at the Park. Being with elephants 24/7, the Volunteers will for sure see something special every day that most people do not. I want to show the world what a beautiful place this Park is and how visiting it will be a life-changing experience for our guests with these magnificent animals. No picture can do an elephant justice, but its up to every Volunteer to try….