Karen Blackwood and Ernest Porter of Eagle Eye Safaris met in South Africa through a mutual love of raptors. Karen is a US-based volunteer for Raptor Education Foundation, and Ernest is a staff photographer at the Black Eagles Project Roodekrans, a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. Both have been photographers from young ages.
Karen has loved and photographed wildlife her entire life. She began visiting Africa for photo safaris in 2012. Being close to elephants and lions sparked an even deeper love for capturing intimate moments with them, and she went back to Africa again and again. A strong sense of conservation and environmentalism fanned her enthusiasm to an obsession. Karen began guiding friends to Africa to coach their photography skills, and in doing so exposed them to conservation concerns, which in turn spread awareness outside her social circle in the USA. Soon, acquaintances and friends of friends began contacting Karen about going to Africa. She also started showing her photographs in coffee shops and galleries as well as on Facebook to share her experiences in Africa with others.
Ernest is South African, so he was born and bred with a love for the nature and the bush. His skill at photographing birds in flight pushed him into the spotlight in Africa and beyond, as he began seeing his photos published in bird identification books, and winning contests, including 3 years as a finalist in Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year, Tamron South Africa, and Best of Africa, and he became a sought-after speaker for photography clubs and ornithology gatherings. People have always asked Ernest for help and tips to improve their photography, and he thrives on assisting them in reaching their goals.
Karen and Ernest began shooting together on self-guided safaris when Karen visited Africa. Ernest’s expertise in the nuances of digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop complimented Karen’s aesthetic and composition skills, and they push each other to grow in their art. Fueled by their mutual love of watching, conserving, and photographing wildlife and their passion for sharing their love for nature, they decided to take their skills to the world by forming a photo safari company in 2016: Eagle Eye Safaris. Their goal is to give their guests an unparalleled viewing experience while guiding them to capture photos that exceed anything they ever expected. They’ve achieved this with their first safaris; each client has been ecstatic with the results on their memory cards, as well as the memories of watching African wildlife up close. They offer small-group Big 5 safaris, and have expanded to include gorilla and chimpanzee treks in Uganda and Rwanda. Future safaris will include trekking condors and spectacled bears in Peru (plus Machu Pichu!), polar and grizzly bears in Alaska and Canada, and trips to Okavango Delta, Namibia, and Madagascar. They can also create private custom safaris.
Karen loves creating photos that tell a tender story, as well as ethereal and abstract photos. Ernest excels in shooting birds in flight and strong animal portraits. Some of their favorite experiences include watching and documenting three Tawny Eagles fighting over stolen prey at a waterhole, photographing a shy, elusive brown hyena at dawn, spending time with tiny lion cubs while they played with their older siblings, watching a pair of cheetahs work together to take down an impala, and laughing at the antics of infant elephants as they try to figure out how to use their trunks while keeping up with the giants of the herd. Some of Ernest’s most memorable photos include the aggression stages of Black Eagle adults teaching the fledgling to fight in mid-air, and Karen’s include a mother’s tender nuzzle of a 4-day old giraffe. Both Karen and Ernest enjoy sharing their photos as a way to bring the joy of Africa to those who can’t travel, and to show those who can what they might see on an African safari. Every day with wildlife is full of wonder; Karen and Ernest of Eagle Eye Safaris want to share that with the world.
Find out more about Karen and Ernest’s Safaris
Eagle Eye Safaris on Facebook
Eagle Eye Safaris Website
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