My name is Patrick Bentley and I am a professional photographer living and working in Zambia. I was born and grew up in one of the most remote areas of this beautiful country. As a child I eagerly explored the forests and rivers around my home and in the process fell hopelessly in love with the natural world.

My first glimpse into wildlife photography was through the lens of the photographer Hugo Van Lawick in his book, Savage Paradise. I would pore over the pages of that book for hours, fascinated by the images they contained and by his ability to freeze a significant moment in time; a cheetah hurling itself headlong through the grass in hot pursuit of a gazelle or an eagle soaring sedately across the moon in a cloudless sky.

My first camera was a cheap plasticky Kodak. I still have a very blurry photograph of a big bull elephant taken with that camera when I was 13 years old. I sneaked up on him while he was feeding and when I was within ten yards of him he caught sight of me and promptly charged. Technically that picture of a charging elephant is very poor but it holds all the excitement and fear that poured through me at the moment when I snapped the shutter and turned on my heel to run for my life. I was ecstatic. I had captured the essence of something fleeting. I had sealed emotion in celluloid and I was hooked.

I began guiding safaris in the Luangwa valley in the early 1990’s. I was in my late teens and still armed with my trusty Kodak camera. Over the years I have upgraded my equipment significantly and moved away from the valley several times. But I am always drawn back. It is a magical place, unforgivably harsh at times and abundantly lush and fruitful at others. It is Africa as it used to be. The Africa that I experienced as a child growing up in the bush and through the pages of Hugo Van Lawick’s book. It is one of the last truly wild places remaining on this continent. For me it is my own Savage Paradise.