Matthew Yardley

Matthew Yardley

Meet Matt.

Even since we met Matt on a game drive at Phinda we were impressed by his warmth and friendly manner. His quiet manner echoes the very gentle moods of the bush and he is also an excellent photographer. We can highly recommend him as a guide especially in the KwaZulu area of South Africa which he calls his home. We asked him some questions about himself:

Why do you love guiding?

As a guide you have the privilege of inviting someone into your world and showing them the best it has to offer. Not only that, but sharing something new, or even learning something new together, is an everyday possibility.

Where do you come from?

I am the fifth generation South African. My forefathers moved to Africa from England in 1903 and settled where I was born and raised on a sugarcane farm, in a little town called Eshowe, deep in the heart of Zululand. As a child we spent every available moment camping, hiking, fishing and exploring every corner of Kwa-Zulu Natal to Mozambique and beyond.

What are your interests?

I love playing the guitar.  At one stage I owned 5 and still love to play daily!!! I still have recording equipment set up in my bush-office where I record music. I had a feature in a local lifestyle magazine in Australia and built an Instagram following of 13 000, which includes Slash (the lead guitarist from the Popular 90s band ‘Guns and Roses’).

What is your bush experience?
I trained at Phinda Private Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu Natal, and eventually obtained my Advanced Guiding (FGASA Level 2) and Lead Trails Guide (lead walker on big and dangerous game walks). After nearly 7 years, I have managed to do roughly 3000 game drives and hundreds of hours of walking in Big 5 reserves. A few achievements that I am proud of are: I received the 100% feedback award two years in a row (didn’t get any bad feedback on guest comment cards for two years. Within Southern Africa, I have helped guide guests through Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.

What about photographic guiding?

It’s amazing how the old cliche, ‘keep it simple’, still rings true in photography. If you learn the basics like a pro, you will eventually become a pro in your own right. I’ve spent hours doing the wrong things and fixing mistakes in cameras and editing, so if I get a chance to spare someone the struggle, I try guide them away from the misery. I love sharing skills around basic camera functions, advanced camera functions and Lightroom. Knowing your camera and how to edit can make all the difference.

What defines your photography?

I believe you can  produce a picture out of a bad photographic situation- even when there is poor light, poor viewing and inactive- animals I try to draw out emotions and tell a story, not only through the image itself but enchanting that emotion in the editing process. I love to bend and break the photography norms. After all, there are a million Lion photographs out there so don’t take someone else’s picture, i.e. a picture that has been done already; make it your own because that makes photography all the more experimental and fun. Monochrome photography is my favourite and what I’m most comfortable with but to stay true to my thoughts and feelings- I love experimenting with muted tones, sepia and rich colour.

My goal going forward is to take people on a similar journey through Africa and photography that I travel on daily. To be able to explore, learn and share moments of magic that the African bush can do so well.