by Emma Thomson
on April 20, 2018
4 min read

Africa’s Photographer of the Year (APOTY) is already on its second category for the year which means we have an exciting announcement to make – the winner of our first category, “Capture Africa”, has been decided. With over 1, 000 entries, our top-class jury were spoiled for choice but in the end, decided on this incredible image submitted by Vittorio Ricci.

Discover more about the lucky winner of APOTY 2018’s first category in this exclusive interview!

Zebras drinking in the dark APOTY 2018 - capture Africa Winner

Zebras drinking in the dark – the winning image for “Capture Africa”
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

Please introduce yourself and let us know more about your travels in Africa.

My name is Vittorio Ricci, I’m 54 years old and I’m from Genoa, Northern Italy. I’ve travelled through Africa many times on photography trips through South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

How did you hear about our Africa’s Photographer of the Year Competition?

I discovered the competition on the internet through Rhino Africa’s blog.

Big male lion lying on a rock in Namibia

Male lion lying on a rock in Namibia
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

We want to know all about your winning photo! Where and how was it taken?

The photo was taken in October 2016 in Zimanga Private Game ReserveKwaZulu-Natal, Africa’s first photographic reserve. Zimanga allows you to spend an entire night in their ideally-placed hides to capture images of animals coming to drink from the waterhole. Even if you’re here the whole night and even if game come, you’re not guaranteed a perfect picture. Luck and skill have a big part in it! Unfortunately, there were no big cats that evening, but as zebras are among the most photographic herbivores, I took advantage of the opportunity.

black and white photo of an elephant standing by a waterhole

An elephant standing by a waterhole in the early morning
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

What makes Africa so special for you?

When I’m there, I can feel a sense of primordial nature and incredible freedom. I love the smell and vast, untouched lands left to nature. There is also an amazing abundance of wildlife, big and small, that are without comparison.

Male Geladas baboon sitting on a rock looking disappointed

Male Gelada’s baboon sitting on a rock
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

When did you get involved in photography? Is it a hobby or are you a professional?

I started in the 1980s with analog SLR equipment. In 1992, I bought a new analog camera and a few years later went on my first African trip to South Africa and decided to switch almost exclusively to nature photography. Since 2006, I’ve been involved in digital photography and although I’m an amateur, I remain a hobbyist.

Two cheetahs sitting together in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Two cheetahs sitting together in Kruger National Park
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

Do you have any advice on how to capture the perfect moment?

The most important tips, in my opinion, would be: study your equipment and the environment you’re going to be in and always be prepared and ready to shoot. Nature is truly unpredictable so always try and learn, never give up and most importantly, have respect for the nature you’re photographing. We are nature photographers, not hunters. Aim for a result, but you must not aim to have it at any cost.

A herd of elephants crossing a river in Zambia

Elephants crossing a river in Zambia
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

What would you say is the most beautiful thing about Africa?

It’s just Africa! Impetuous nature, good food, drinks and, generally speaking, very friendly, beautiful people.

In your opinion, what should travellers to Africa be sure not to miss?

When I look at people today I think something must be going wrong for good habits and everyday life to change so much. My tip would be put your phone down – with the exception of capturing a really great shot of course! When you’re outdoors, appreciate its beauty, aside from special circumstances, you don’t need to be checking your phone every few minutes – nature is always better!

Springboks in Namibia standing in a row with a beautiful backdrio

Springboks standing in a row in Namibia
Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci

If you too love photographing Africa’s incredible landscapes and inhabitants, submit your entry to one of our four categories and stand a chance to win our incredible Grand Prize! For more information, have a look at our website and best of luck.

Cover Photo Credit: Vittorio Ricci