Wednesday, February 14, 2024


Michael - Alternate Thursdays

Photo: Marsel van Oosten

Marsel van Oosten
Knysna is the home to one of the world's leading photographic artists. Marsel van Oosten was born in Rotterdam, where he grew up and made a success in marketing. He loved the images that formed part of his campaigns, especially those that supported conservation. He became a keen amateur photographer himself, but as time went on, he realized that he wanted to become a professional photographer and artist, that that was his real passion. He and his wife, Daniella, closed their agency, and planned a year of wildlife photography around the world to start the new venture. They called it Squiver - a made up word. Marsel asked Daniella to estimate the costs of such a venture, and it was way beyond anything they could afford. Then Marsel’s marketing background kicked in. He hit on the idea of producing a book focusing on top rank lodges and venues around the world – a book that the lodges would pay to be included in. The project took off, and their first book was Wild Romance covering lodges and venues across Africa. You can still grab resale copies for around $250(!) Marsel’s career as a photographer had taken off.

Looks good to me!

Since then he has collected first prizes in International Photography Awards, three times; in 2015 he was Travel Photographer of the Year; and in 2018 he was Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

I was privileged to hear him speak and enjoy his stunning visuals at a U3A meeting here in Knysna. He showed us many of his truly amazing pictures, starting with the elephant at Victoria Falls which adorns the cover of his more recent book Mother. He explained that this was a case of being in the right place at the right time. No one else has a picture of an elephant peacefully feeding at the brink of the magnificent falls because no one else was there at that moment. Indeed, he continued, the impact of the animal is not that it's a great or even particularly interesting picture of an elephant, but that it gives scale. The impact of the falls is so much greater because we can appreciate its vastness by comparison to the size of the animal.

Inside Mother
by Marsel van Oosten and Daniella Sibbing

Every wildlife photographer needs a bit of luck, but Marsel's real satisfaction comes from planning a wildlife picture in advance. Looking for the perfect setting. Finding the perfect angles and lighting. And then waiting patiently for an animal simply to appear in the right place. Here is a great example. He liked the shapes of the trees. All it needed was the right animal. Given enough patience, sooner or later you may get the shot. Or you try again.

The trees - and Marsel - waited patiently for the elephant...
Photo: Marsel van Oosten

In fact, for Marsel, planning is everything. Perspective is important. He’ll dig a hole in the ground so that he can photograph a rhino from ground level. Or a lion. 

Rhinos from ground level
Photo: Marsel van Oosten

Photo: Marsel van Oosten

Photo: Marsel van Oosten

Oh, and here are a couple of tigers, and these are not from a trip to India. It turns out that, yes, there are tigers in Africa. Tiger Canyon ( is a tiger conservation area in the Karoo in South Africa where tigers have been introduced in the wild as a backup to the wild ones in other parts of the world. The idea is similar to zoos having groups of a rare species to save it from extinction. But zoos can’t preserve a predator’s wild sociology and hunting strategies. Tiger Canyon can and does. A similar philosophy has white rhinos in Australia.

 Marcel always wants to try something new. Take a look at this video clip of Namibian Nights:

Marsel and his wife have been all over the world, and they can manage their professional activities from anywhere, but they decided to settle in Knysna. They've  built a magnificent home overlooking the Knysna estuary. The timing was good. Covid arrived and restricted their travel and their opportunities to run photography tours, but it gave an opportunity for them to write Mother: a tribute to Mother Earth, unfortunately currently sold out.

To really appreciate Marsel’s art, visit his website 

And read about his wonderful photography tours…


  1. These photos leave me speechless. Magnificent! Interesting to learn about Tiger Canyon, too.