“My mission in photography is to make a difference…
in your hearts, and on this land.”
~ Sam Clark
The “modern Doctor Dolittle “as many fondly called her, Sam Clark is one of the most popular names in the world of Wildlife photography and conservation. A wildlife Photographer, Animal Communicator, Healer, writer, conservationist, Humanitarian, Adventurist – a multi-dimensional personality Sam can only be described in one word as someone with a strong passion , love and respect for all living creatures. This special character of emotion and care for all that breathes makes Sam Clark the brand to be reckoned with in the fraternity of wildlife and nature conservation. Sam believes that photography plays an important role in the conservation industry. Her works are regularly published in numerous magazines. Out of all her amazing experiences, the stories of Mountain Gorilla perhaps one of the most popular widely appreciated one. Sam is Originally from New Zealand, now residing in Victoria, Australia.
TW is honored to have her time and more than happy to be able to share a glimpse of this enlightened, kind hearted, extremely loveable and yet so humble personality with our readers…
We understand the love for photography has always been there with you since the beginning. When did the integration of camera and wildlife/animals start?
It started as a child, photographing our family pets, and taking my parents camera on my horse riding adventures. The camera was a way in which I could express myself, in everything that I saw and felt. I would loose myself in the process, so was also in a way, a form of meditation, or stillness if you like, of the mind. Professionally, I started with old buildings through to landscape photography, mainly because in my younger years, I couldn’t afford the big wildlife lenses, and never had the patience to sit in a hide for hours. Then, upon fulfilling my childhood dream to explore Africa, and as I tell people, I went as a landscape photographer, and returned as a wildlife photographer. I really felt a strong connection spiritually towards my subjects, and just knew that’s what I now needed to pursue. I knew I could use my photography to make a difference in the world of conservation. And so it began. That was in 2009. I have now returned to Africa 8 times.
For many of us who are not aware, what exactly the kind of works that an ‘Animal communicator’ is involved with?
From a very early age, I always had a way with animals, like a deep understanding of what they felt, what they wanted. As a child, my thought process didn’t go beyond that. It was just a knowing, something I never questioned. Throughout my life, I have further developed this clairvoyant ability through the practice of meditation and Reiki energy. I liken it to going to the gym to develop our muscles. The mind too is an incredible tool with which we all have the ability to develop, and I believe most of us are born with a degree of clairvoyant or ‘knowing’ ability, however we somehow lose it on the journey of life.
When I am communicating with an animal, I receive visions, am spoken to, as well as taste, smell, feel and sense empathy from that animal, so therefore understand how they are feeling and why. For example, I have picked up on medical ailments of an animal as I am shown where the problem lays. This might be anything from a tumor, to arthritis or bladder infection. If I am working with a rescue, often they will present with anxiety, which I will physically feel in my own chest, or I may feel nauseous etc. My accuracy has always been confirmed by pet owners, and X-Rays for some of the wild rescued animals that I have worked with. I am humbled by my ability, and what I believe to be a sacred journey with animals, a gift I am forever grateful for. It is also one that I endeavor to approach with complete integrity, compassion, understanding and truth. Each animal is unique, having their own individual personality, much like that of a human’s. I have now worked with over 20 species of both wild and domestic animals.
An amazing wildlife Photographer, animal Communicator, Healer, writer, conservationist, humanitarian, adventurist – a person with multiple areas of expertise. Which one defines you more or closest to your heart?
Thank you, your heartfelt comments really means a lot to me!
I think that the collaboration of them all defines me as a person. I live for new adventures, and it is through these that I feel I express myself best as a wildlife photographer, and as an individual. It’s when I truly feel alive! Photography is not what I do, but is an extension of me as a person; a way in which I express myself, and my relationship to my subjects, and in fact; life herself! My deep passion to make a difference with my work as an Animal Communicator and healer; brings about my personal contribution to conservation and Animal welfare, as I believe it is through knowledge gained and shared, which will bring enlightenment to the world as a whole. We need to understand that animals are not ‘beneath’ us, in fact, they are a species that can teach us so much about ourselves. I believe it is a needed learning for the ascension of Earth as we know it. Living in harmony, within the confines of balance will be the preservation of our world. And needless to say, the power of the written word, combined with a powerful image, speaks volumes. Early on in my conservation ‘career’, I earned that often if we work ‘backwards’, and start with the people living along side our wildlife, finding solution to their needs, will often in turn help with the preservation of our wildlife.
You have been travelling throughout the world since decades. Which part of the wild earth fascinates you most and why?
Africa, without a doubt. It is a place that I have had a fascination and deep connection with since I was a child. A place I felt I had been to before, even before I had arrived. Africa has a soul that vibrates deep within me, a remarkable variety of wildlife, and a culture that connects deep to my heart, with every beat of the drum. Having said that, there is still so much of this amazing world that I am yet to explore; Antarctica being high on my list, photographing wolves, Snow Leopards, Black Leopards and venturing on a dog sledding adventure, to name but a few. I would also love to spend more time working with primates, especially Gorillas. Ha-ha; my list is long!
I have had many incredible experiences on my travels but the highlights for me are the deep connections that take place with the wildlife themselves. You cannot put a price on that! Spending days with just one pride of lions with young cubs in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Lying in a ditch in the rain photographing the critically endangered Ethiopian Wolf. Tracking an Elephant herd on foot through the forest with just a Ranger and myself. Sitting in the jungle with the Mountain Gorillas, having them look into you on a soul level, knowing that there is an understanding from a language pool deep within. These are experiences that can move me to tears.
Have you been to India yet?
No, not yet, but certainly a destination on my forever-growing bucket list. I endeavor to photograph the Black Leopard, yet another animal that I feel spiritually connected to, the elusive Snow Leopard, and Tiger. And of course visit some of the iconic landmarks, and experience the local culture.
There are millions of young wildlife lovers all over the world who want to follow the footsteps of Sam Clark. Which road map will you share with them?
I think in knowing that everything that we choose to do, has an impact on our world. To take the attention away from ourselves, and be more aware of our surroundings and the impacts caused, whether it’s in how we treat animals, our Natural environment, or fellow human beings, and importantly to know, that even as one person, we can all make a difference. Collectively, this is huge! Never underestimate the power of one person. I met a local lady in Africa while staying at my lodge in the Mara. We were talking about conservation issues, and she said to me, ‘I wish I could make a difference, but I am only one person and the problems are so big’. I discussed with her on how she could teach what she knows to children in schools. I could see the penny drop and a look of ‘I can make a difference’ on her face. She was ecstatic knowing that she too could also make a positive change towards a healthier planet, and left with newfound determination. As one person, she potentially has the capacity to bring positive change, and educate thousands!
How do you like to be remembered as?
I would like to be remembered as the wildlife photographer that could talk to animals; the one who made a difference to the way in which people thought about and treated our animals and our world in which we cohabitate. I will be covering some of my Inter-species communication findings in my up coming book on Mountain Gorillas. Through this and a travelling exhibition, I hope to leave some form of legacy for future generations.
( All the photographs used in the story and cover are taken by Sam Clark and under copyright )