Igniting Imagination: Skye Meaker
At the Royal Garden Hotel, we believe that igniting imagination and building everlasting memories are at the core of the perfect family break. Therefore, as part of our family-friendly promise, we are interviewing passionate professionals to inspire your little ones.
Next up we have Skye Meaker, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018. Read all about the work he does and why he believes museums are important for a child's imagination.
Please introduce yourself and your role as a Wildlife Photographer.
My name is Skye Meaker, I am currently 17 years old and live in South Africa. I am a wildlife photographer specialising in African wildlife.
Photo Credit: Skye Meaker
Can you expand on your role? What have you done for the Natural History Museum?
I am currently the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition owned and run by the Natural History Museum in London. In January, the WPY exhibition was featured at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where I too was invited by WEF to speak and participate in 3 Forum discussions. I told my story and showed the beauty of nature through my photography and explained why we should protect it. I spent most of the week in press interviews promoting the exhibition and my photographic journey. The WPY exhibition is currently touring the world and I am very happy that my image ‘Lounging Leopard’ is a part of it, showing the general public the true beauty of our natural world.
What inspired you to do what you do? How and when did you learn this kind of job existed?
What inspired me was my love for wildlife and sharing the beauty of nature with others initially, but it then grew into me wanting to show the world the beauty of nature and why we should be protecting it.
I had always known about wildlife photographers as I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the bush since as far back as I can remember, but what made me think that this might be an option for me was when I met my mentor and the man that helped me develop my photography, Greg Du Toit.
WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I didn’t go to lessons, or clubs, or even study anything for that matter. What I did do was learn from my mistakes. Because I was so passionate and curious, I always bent the rules of photography and learnt from just having fun, although it took me over 10 years to get where I am today.
What has been your favourite moment in the job so far?
I would have to say when I got to see and photograph my favourite animal in the world, Limpy the female leopard and her cub for the first time, it was incredible.
What did you want to be/what job did you want to have growing up as a child?
As a child, I never wanted to do a specific job, but I always knew that I wanted to do something that I loved with all my heart. I always thought it would have something to do with nature and here I am.
Do you remember your first visit to a museum? When and where was it?
My first visit to a museum was the holocaust museum in my home city in South Africa in Durban. I went with my school on an excursion to learn more about equality and to learn from histories mistakes. You could say, that this somewhat inspired me to try and share how beautiful the natural world is to the rest of society through my photography.
How important do you think museums are for a child’s imagination?
I think Museums are massively important, because in our day and age, we don’t get the opportunity to experience what life was like before technology. Museums can open our minds and amaze us about how we got to where we are today as a society. Although, I think the real value is that museums allow us to learn from the past and create a better future as the next generation, which is what I inspire to do.
Have you got any advice for children wanting to work in the ARTS industry?
I would say, that you should do all the things that you like doing and not worry about what other people think. In my experience in the arts, I quickly realized that I can’t please everyone, so you might as well make yourself happy.
Any other advice or words of wisdom you would like to impart?
I would have to say that you should follow your dreams and learn from as many things as possible, because only when you have the right amount of knowledge you can accomplish your dreams. Unless you're ridiculously lucky.
Video Credit: The Natural History Museum