Through The Lens

Klaus Tiedge

What started off as a career for German-born Klaus Tiedge has now become a lifetime ritual of serenity among Africa’s finest settings.  Klaus has published a spectacular coffee-table book of 75 wildlife mages in locations around sub-Saharan Africa and his work can be found in some of the world’s finest galleries


As a teenager in Cologne Germany, Klaus Tiedge first picked up a camera as a way to travel and a lens to the wider world. “I wanted to look into the lives of people from celebrities to factory workers. It also gave me a chance to interact with things in the world I didn’t normally have access to. There was  nothing boring about photography,” he says.

Klaus in his studio

Klaus launched a successful career as a commercials and fashion photographer, travelling to places like New York, London, New Delhi, Tokyo and Sao Paulo. Yet it was Cape Town that stole his heart.

Pride and Joy: A cheetah mum with her cubs.

After relocating with his wife, Sandra, to South Africa in 2001 Klaus transitioned into a stylised wildlife photography. Not only does his eye for detail and skill for being in the right place at the right time translate into iconic images but a sense of tranquility perpetuates every frame.

Okavango harmony

“I don’t wait for inspiration,” Klaus explains, “I go out and I am present. Either something happens or not. When an exciting or beautiful scene arises, I have to decide in that moment how to capture it. I just have to trust my skills.”

Just necking

While spending time with these majestic creatures is necessary for a perfect shot, there is something more intuitive about the experience. Klaus says while studying the behaviour or route of travel of animals is important, it’s surrendering to the space that makes his photographs so special.

A leopard

He achieves this by being mindful. He takes the time to smell the fresh morning air or the wet grass after the rain and listens to the lions roaring or zebras barking. “When I observe the animals for hours, I feel part of the scene and then I can feel, right in the moment, when to take the shot.  I find that Africa is good for my soul. It is rich, genuine and satisfying,” he says.

Himba women in Nairobi

But it’s not simply about pure talent. Klaus says that most of his job is about hard work, consistency, learning from other photographers and analysing his own images.

Dead Vlei in Namibia

“Photography is also not only about capturing the image, but also interpreting it. You want to show people how you felt photographing it, the image needs to be filled with life. It’s a moment preserved – it needs to show every detail.”

Klaus and his family at the baobab tree in Timbavati

It’s Sandra and their two children that help to ground Klaus, giving him the foundation to dedicate his life to his passion. Together, as they have travelled Africa, Klaus has managed to capture people and animals in their natural environments. His precise Teutonic touch and signature desaturated colouring makes his imagery some of the most renowned in the world.

Exploring the delta …

For those who feel a pull towards photography, Klaus says that it’s a much easier industry to break into than it was 30 years ago. With the internet and social media, there are opportunities to learn and showcase your work to a larger audience. He advises finding a spectrum that you connect with and find your own style of capturing photographs within this spectrum. It’s also not necessarily about the equipment – get a camera and use it often. “Practising daily will keep you getting better all of the time.”

Klaus in his studio

Once you’ve got the image, it’s time for interpretation. While Klaus grew up using a dark room, today there are computers that can help transform photographs into the finished product.  This, he says, is the opportunity to truly make a mark – interpreting a moment suspended in time.

“For me, this is the other thrill of photography. You can create an image that is truly yours.”