Los Angeles-based British photographer Simon Needham opens up a stunning world of wildlife for us to enjoy from up close. The highlight of his work is the awe-inspiring portraits of lions from different angles that show their beauty and powerful presence. But most importantly, he shows the importance of these magnificent creatures as they are becoming a threatened species with only about 20,000 left in the wild.
The majestic animals that were once kings of the jungle are quietly disappearing at the hands of humans. There are half as many African lions as there were 25 years ago and they have made it into the list of species vulnerable to extinction, leaving it up to wildlife conservation organizations to determine their fate.
In case you needed a reminder of why lions rule the animal kingdom, dive into the incredible gallery of Needham's photos, and don't miss our interview with the photographer below!
Needham recently captured incredible shots of beautiful six-year-old Moya, who was showing off his fabulous and rare white mane at South Africa’s Glen Garriff Conservation lion sanctuary.
"I love animals but Moya's stunning coat blew me away the first time I saw it!" Needham described his first encounter with a white lion to Bored Panda. White lions are rare in the wild because their distinct color is a result of a genetic mutation where two copies of a recessive gene must be present in order for the usually golden coat to turn out white.
Needham told us it was difficult to get close to Moya and he didn't really get to appreciate the lion's true beauty until after he saw the photos. The rightfully boastful beast initially went viral on social media and then got picked up by mainstream media because of his unique hairstyle with the uncommon mutation.
On his Instagram post, the photographer shared that he is happy to be a part of "bringing well-deserved attention to a very worthy cause at GG Conservation Glen Garriff where they have 77 lions in their care."
"My whole mission with the exposure of white lions is to bring help and attention to endangered species and to help support what I consider a worthy cause, so this attention was great for GG," Needham said about the attention his mesmerizing photos have brought the sanctuary.
Needham said that the key to photographing wildlife is patience and being able to get yourself into the right position where you can safely capture an image.
"There is no doubt I am in the moment while photographing animals, I'm very focused and intent on 'getting the shot' which also somehow increases my bravery as I am more focused on getting the shot."
We asked Needham what's the most challenging part about photographing wildlife, to which he said: "I would say the most challenging is having the patience to wait for that 'moment,' but the most rewarding is capturing that 'moment.'"
Needham began his career as a graphic designer and founded the successful award-winning advertising agency ATTIK with his university friend. After selling his business, he focused on following his passions for travel, directing, and photography. His photography work ranges from professional shootings for small and large brands and fine art to humanitarian and conservation photography for NGOs around the world. He has worked with One Heart Worldwide, GG Conservation, Development Media international, California Wildlife Center, Care for Wild, and Fundacion Natura Bolivia.
"I started photographing wildlife to help charities about 5 years ago after selling an ad agency (ATTIK) I had started with a friend (James Sommerville). When we were 18 years old, with the help of the Prince's Trust, we eventually got to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace as one of fifty creatives who were celebrated for contributions to British design along with people such as Stella McCartney and Paul Smith. After 25 years, 350 staff, and 6 offices globally, we sold the business and I went on to follow my passions in photography and directing."
Besides doing conservation work and raising awareness about animals in danger by photographing them, Needham sells his prints and gives 50% of his profits back to sanctuaries he works for.
"My first project was at GG conservation, the goal was to photograph their beautiful lions and give them all the content so they can use it to promote their charity. I do all this for free as I am a great supporter of saving wildlife."
Needham said he plans to continue traveling the world and providing great quality visual content and powerful images for charities, at the same time seeing and experiencing other cultures.
The end of the year has been rich with photography competitions that showcase the work of the most talented photographers around the world, so if you are up for more exciting animal photos, check out other posts on Bored Panda, such as the amazing winning photographs of Nature Photographer of the Year, winners of The Ocean Photography Awards, photos that won the European Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, or the best photos from Agora's #Animals2020 contest. And if you need a good laugh today, check out this year's Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards winners that will definitely crack you up.