An interview with wildlife photographer Margot Raggett, the producer of the highly acclaimed Remembering Wildlife book series, a collaboration between many of the world’s top wildlife photographers.
The first two books in the series, Remembering Elephants and Remembering Rhinos, have so far between them raised more than £320,000 for conservation project. This year’s book, Remembering Great Apes, will be published on 14th October 2018 and is now available for pre-order. It is accompanied by a two-week free exhibition, which runs daily from 10am-5pm from Monday 15th through to Saturday 27th October at La Galleria, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4UY.
The official launch will be held on the evening of Thursday 18th October at the Royal Geographical Society. Speakers that night include the wildlife activist Ofir Drori, and former Wildlife Photographer of the Year Tim Laman and the evening also includes a book signing. The TPOTY team is going and we can’t wait!
For more information, tickets and to order books, go to www.rememberingwildlife.com.
COMPETITION – we have a copy of this beautiful book to give away. For your chance to win it, just email us before October 14th and tells us why you would like to own a copy of Remembering Great Apes.
What prompted you to start the Remembering Wildlife series?
I had trying to build a career in wildlife photography after giving up the corporate world, so I was spending a lot of time in Africa. Towards the end of 2014 I was on a safari in Northern Kenya when we were woken up before dawn by the sound of hyenas going crazy. At first light we went to investigate and found a poached elephant. We think he’d only died a few hours before. He still had the poisoned arrow in him and the hyenas had started to eat him. We estimate he was around 14 years old.
I was so horrified and shocked, I literally felt impotent with rage. But then I started to think about how to channel that anger into something productive. I knew a few other wildlife photographers by then and started to ask around and see if anyone would consider donating images for an awareness and fundraising book and everyone said yes!
How did you go about planning that first book book?
The first thing I had to do was to get the photographers on board. I had in my mind to have 50 but at that stage didn’t actually know 50 different wildlife photographers so it felt pretty ambitious! But I had brilliant support and introductions to some of the big names. And once we had the likes of Frans Lanting and Art Wolfe on board people started contacting me!
The next thing was to get funding and I decided to try the Kickstarter route as I’d seen it work successfully for other photographers. We set out to raise £20,000, which was going to be enough to produce 1000 books. I had no idea if we’d achieve that in the 30 days the campaign was to run, so when we actually hit it in just 12 hours I knew we were onto something! The idea was to totally pre-fund the cost of producing the books so that when we went on to sell them all profits could go straight to conservation.
Eventually we printed 2500 copies of Remembering Elephants and those sold out in just two months from launch. We are now on our third edition of that book and it remains immensely popular, with proceeds of its sale still going to conservation projects today.
How do you choose the subjects for your books?
It is incredibly difficult to do, as there are just so many species that need our attention and protection right now. Time really is of the essence! I also get a lot of people contacting me with what they think I should do. But really, I just have to rely on my instincts each time about what seems most urgent at that particular moment. With rhinos, it was the opportunity to meet Sudan, the last male northern white rhino (who has subsequently passed away) that made my mind up to cover that species. And with great apes, there were so many issues from deforestation for palm oil, though to mining for minerals for use in mobile phones that I wanted to highlight.
How do you go about selecting images for the books?
My primary objective each year is to make the most beautiful tribute to the species that’s ever been seen. So I’m looking for outstanding images that I think will look good in a book but also on people’s walls, as we also sell prints at our exhibition to raise further funds. I’m also always looking for reflections on the personalities and behaviours of the animals, moments that will capture people’s attention and give a sense of the world in which they live.
How is the launch of Remembering Great Apes shaping up?
All indications are that it is going to be our biggest year yet! Our Kickstarter this year raised an incredible £128,000, meaning we could print 5000 copies of Remembering Great Apes, our biggest print run yet. And we have 35 of our contributing photographers flying in to attend the launch this time, which I am pretty blown away by. We’ll have the likes of Tim Laman, Greg Du Toit, Shem Compion and Michael Poliza there, along with many others and I’m thrilled that the event seems to be turning into a real highlight of the wildlife photographic community’s calendar.
Image at head of page ©Jami Tarris