Photography News Issue 61

Photography News | Issue 61 |

Interview 22

Remembering Wildlife Profile Margot Raggett has so far raised over £450,000 to help endangered species. This is her story

PN: Can you give Photography News readers a little background about yourself? Are you a conservationist and nature lover first or is your background in photography? MR: My background is actually in marketing and public relations, which I worked in for 18 years until 2010. At that point I became disillusioned with the corporate world and having always had a love for nature and safaris, decided to try and pursue a career in wildlife photography. The conservation side of things came a little later. PN: What was the motivation for setting up Remembering Wildlife, and when did the idea come to you? MR: It all began early one morning in November 2014 when I was staying in a camp in Northern Kenya, on a photographic safari. We were woken up by the sound of hyenas goingcrazyandat first lightwent to investigate. We found a poached elephant, around 14 years old, his tusks still intact and with a poisoned arrow still in him. He was being eaten by the hyenas. The rangers speculated that poachers had shot the young bull and he’d bolted from them and given them the slip, only to die a slow, agonising death days later. His deathwas pointless – his tusks only were small even if they’d been successful in catching him – and I was beside myself with impotent anger. I decided to try and channel that anger into something positive, however, and started to

ask fellow wildlife photographer friends if they’d consider donating elephant images to a fundraising book if I were to put one together. Everyone said yes, and the very first person who came on board was my mentor Angie Scott, for whose support and encouragement I am forever grateful. PN: How many people are directly involved in the project? MR: In terms of direct support, I have an editorial team of three who help me to put the book together each year, one lady who helps me with some admin and also some admin support from Born Free. Otherwise, everything is pretty much done by me with the support of an army of volunteers, sponsors and supporters. In terms of photographers, across the three books ( Remembering Elephants , Remembering Rhinos and Remembering Great Apes ) we’ve nowalsoworkedwith 124 different photographers, all of whom have donated their work for free. PN: How much have you raised so far? MR: At this stage I’m still waiting to hear our online sales for October, but from the launch alone we’ve raised £120,000 so far from Remembering Great Apes . This is on top of £330,000 raised by the first two books so far, so currently our grand total is £450,000. I’m really hoping to go over the half a million pounds raised soon. PN: How was getting support from leading wildlife photographers? MR: It was much easier than I anticipated, actually. Having respected photographers such as Jonathan andAngie Scott and Federico Veronesi on board from the beginning gave the project immediate credibility, and then other photographers such as Shem Compion also helped by introducingme to some of the bigger names like Art Wolfe and Frans Lanting. Once they said yes, people started approaching me to offer me their work. Once we’d launched the first book – Remembering Elephants – to critical acclaim that also gave us even more credibility when we started to make the next two books. By that stage people knew we were producing a quality product and that they could trust us with their work. PN: Was it a challenge for the first book, Remembering Elephants ? MR:Thebiggestchallengeatthebeginningwas that I didn’t know 50 wildlife photographers (the number I had in my head I wanted to

contribute) to ask. But once we began, things started to snowball. I also wasn’t sure how our Kickstarter campaign would go and whether there would actually be enough support for the idea to raise the funds we needed. When we hit our total in just 12 hours that year, I realised we were on to a success. The other challenge I also had to face that year was being diagnosed with breast cancer on the day that Kickstarter ended. I worked through my treatment but initially I wasn’t sure how well I would be to complete the book. I share this now because I want to encourage others with similar diagnoses to realise it doesn’t need to be the end of the world, that you can still go on to achieve things you are proud of. PN: At the Remembering Great Apes launch evening you had a good number of photographers flying in, so you must be

From the launch alone, we’ve raised £120,000 from Remembering Great Apes Thanks go to... This year's Remembering Wildlife book was kindly sponsored by PhotoGuard, specialist providers of insurance for photographers and their equipment.

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