Genocide survivor, Niki Colemont, has taken his second chance at life to become a nature photographer. He’s previously been featured in the Flemish television network VTM, the Belgian-Dutch newspaper HLN, and the French channel BFMTV, among others. Additionally, Niki was also a National Geographic 2019 finalist.
Before turning to nature photography, Niki who lives in Belgium experienced more than his fair share of tragedy. The photographer was born in Rwanda in 1986, just a few years before the genocide. Niki’s mother died during childbirth, leaving him with just his father and sister. When the Rwandan Genocide and war began in 1990, 4-year-old Niki and his sister fled to Belgium as refugees, while their father stayed behind to fight. Sadly, his dad died in the war, leaving Niki and his sibling as orphans. In 2019, his sister also passed away, aged just 38.
Niki, who grabs life by the hands, has become a huge success story in the nature photgraphy world, so we decided to sit down with Niki and learn more about him and his photography.
- Niki, let have a look at the man behind the lens, who is Niki Colemont and how would you describe yourself the people you meet?
I would describe myself as a person who is happy, I am a very positive guy always smiling and dancing
2. When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer and how did you go about pursuing this dream?
I visited my girlfriend’s grandmother. I was looking through the window when I saw a little bird flying out of the nest searching for food. It was really fascinating to watch.
From that moment I knew that i wanted to do more in nature photography
3. So, why did you become a nature photographer instead of say someone who takes pictures of celebrities or a wedding photographer?
Nature gives me more joy and a clear head. Photographing people is a lot of stress
and you need to perform on a higher lever. in nature/wildlife there is no pressure.
4. Have you had any formal photography training?
I had no formal education. I learned everything through trial and error
5. What inspires you about wildlife and nature photography?
The thing that most inspires me is that you can’t expect what wil happen next, it’s always a surprise. Also in nature I can clear my mind. run far from the madding crowd
- Can you remember the first camera you bought and do you still have it?
The first camera that I bought was a Sony Cybershot… I don’t have that one anymore
7. Can you tell us about the most memorable wildlife photo you have ever shot and what made it so special?
This year I had my first shot of mating kingfisher. i’m photographing kingfishers for 5 years and i had never seen this moment before
8 What are the main challenges that you face as a wildlife photographer?
Sitting stil for a long periode of time. Being disturbed by people.
- What are the techniques you use?
My patience is highly recommended :p its also importand to study your subject before you go in the field. if
10. What animal would you most like to capture that you haven’t already and why?
The puffin the dream of every wildlife photographer, it’s the rolce roice of birds
11. What do you love most about being a nature photographer?
Spending time in the wild is one of the best therapy you can have
12. What equipment is in your kit bag?
Nikon d500, Manfroto Tripod, Nikon D90, Tamron 90mm macro lens. Sigma 150 – 600mm tele, Nikkor 18-300mm VR, Yongnuo flitser.
- What is the best camera to use for nature photography?
Nikon D500 Focus and shutter speeds are insane
- What speed should people use if they wanted to capture a bird flying?
Your shutter speed should be quite fast—1/2500, 1/3200
- What advice would you give to young photographers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career in wildlife photography?
Don’t be scared to make mistakes, you can feel bad for a shot that you mis.
but always know that you wil make a better one next time. never give up always keep trying to reach your goals. stand behind your idea.
For more information about Niki Colemont, or to view his incredible photographs, please visit his Instagram page.