The art of science: C4 employee wins prestigious photographic award

By 26 Oct, 2021 Oct 28th, 2021 Blog, News
Kevin C4

In June 2021, Orms launched a photography competition on birding images to provide South Africa’s photographic community with a platform to display their finest work, showcase their unique creative expression while celebrating the splendour of birdlife. The competition’s panel of expert judges included legendary South African bird photographer, Trevor Hardaker. Out of 5000 entries, C4’s Kervin Prayag was selected as one of the winners whose photograph is currently exhibited at an open-air curated exhibition on Sea Point Promenade.

Currently doing nature or landscape photography, Kervin tries to incorporate a different or unique angle in his images. He hopes to put artistic images back on people’s radar — specifically to promote conservation — by avoiding clichés in his photography. Kervin’s unique perspective is influenced by his background as a Mauritian having been rooted in Cape Town for the last 10 years — “I document the landscape and ecosystem I’ve lived in now for a decade in the way that I see and experience it”.

His photography is also inspired by his research background in biological sciences as well as his current work in ecosystems. He approaches his photography in the mindset of what he’s studied, knowing that there are basic biological principles that apply to most organisms. “When I photograph a bird for example, I think about what this bird is going to do — based on the biological sciences training that I’ve received: this bird might exhibit this behavioural, or this plant is known for this particular display etc.” As a result, Kervin uses his environmental knowledge to chase the animal or plant behaviour he wants to document.

Through his images, Kervin aims to promote ethical photography, knowing the necessity of respecting his subjects. For example, he urges photographers not to disturb birds or animals by using playbacks, to try and avoid trampling plants, and in the recent case of the Kirstenbosch caracals, not to get too close. “I hope my photos will spread that same behaviour.” This conservation approach also links with his work at C4, where he hopes to use artistic landscape and nature photos to document what C4 is fighting against, such as desertification in Mauritania for one of C4’s current projects.

Historically, Kervin used to take his camera everywhere, in case a photo opportunity presented itself. Now he prefers to plan ahead. “As a photographer, sometimes you don’t enjoy the moment because you are focussed too much on getting the shots, and then you realise afterwards that you forgot to enjoy the sighting”. In the case of the award-winning bird photo, Kervin was a budding photographer when he was sent on a trip with the non-profit organisation Cape Town Pelagics, to document their work in 2018. During this expedition, Kervin saw an opportunity to photograph the albatross (Thalassarche cauta), describing the moment as follows: “On this trip, the waves rocked our boat quite vigorously, making focusing very tricky. After adjusting a few settings on my camera, I rested it onto the gunwale. With the boat still rocking, the subject kept moving in and out of my view. I therefore took a few moments to attune myself to the motion, so as to anticipate the right moment to capture the image. As that moment arrived, I pressed the shutter-release button.”

For more information on the Orms competition and exhibition, visit: https://blog.ormsdirect.co.za/your-best-birding-images-these-are-our-remarkable-winners/