For most of us, wildlife photography doesn’t go much further than snapping a cute picture of our cat. But for professional wildlife photographers, it's venturing into rough and tough terrains, spending days exploring canyons, forests and deserts to capture sometimes once in a lifetime scenes.
This has been the life known to photographer Mohammed Abdulmoneim Al Bahar Al Rawas who spends many of his days outdoors and into the wild trying to take one of a kind pictures.
With nearly a decade of experience and a little bit of luck, he often comes home from a long assignment satisfied that he got incredible shots that can compete internationally.
“When a hobby is fueled by passion, it usually leads to discoveries. When you're doing something that you love, it allows you explore all aspects of what you do. While roaming the mountains, deserts and seas, sometimes I am forced to stop when I spot a new creature or attractive scene that can’t be missed. There, I set up my camera, tools to snatch the right shot in a perfect angle," Mohammed shared.
As a photographer who goes to remote places for "the shot," Mohammed has thousands of stories to share because of his adventures. These stories are often shared on snippets in his different online platforms, the final shot creating the full story of what subject he is chasing after.
“My passion for photography began in the late 90s when I was mainly a backpacker roaming the mountains, desert and sea. I enjoyed the geological diversity in the Governorate of Dhofar. Slowly, I became professional in the field of wildlife photography," he shared.
Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging types of photography requiring lots of effort and patience. It also requires varying degree of research depending on what you're chasing after. In Mohammed's case, it is necessary to educate himself with the seasons in places that he goes to.
"You should be prepared to face failure. Preparation is very important and sometimes, with all the preparations you make, it doesn’t always work,” he said.
Other than researching the seasons or shooting conditions, it is also important to learn about the habits of the wildlife creature you are trying to take photos of.
"These are wild animals and a photographer will always be at risk when he goes for these assignments," he said.
But he explained that for people like him, they do what they do because of different reasons.
"To many of us, these missions are not just about taking the perfect photo. It is also about spreading environmental message to the community. These creatures are essential elements in the environment and therefore, should be preserved and protected from different threats — from human violence to climate changes etc," he said.
Mohammed, over the years, has collected hundreds of photographs of some of Oman's most protected species that are seldom seen. He's learned a few lessons in how to deal with the species he was taking photos of.
"To get going in the morning, reptiles need a sun boost, while you have to stay the whole night in the wild to spot an owl. One of the challanges we face is also tracking the animals without causing any disturbance that could change the attitude of the creature. It takes years to study all the differences in attitudes of creatures and their ways of living," he said.
"Wildlife photography is a game of hide and seek. It requires extreme specialization. You would also need to learn how to camouflage. I have one assignment where, to take good photos, I have to find a big log I can hide and mounted my camera at a safe distance to take photos every 10 minutes without causing a disruption," he said.
"Some photographers have to spend days in the same spot just to capture one specific specifies," he said.
Embracing his role as an educator to his followers, Mohammed always gives out information about the creatures that he posts on social media.
"I feel like it is social responsibility to educate the community about Oman's rich and diverse environment," he said.
He added, "most of the things I share are also not documented on books. I usually leave some comments about my personal observations with the hope that this information will help researchers," he said.