Charnel van Schalkwyk grew up in Rustenburg and studied Education in Potchefstroom to become a High School Art and Economics teacher. She moved to their game farm in Brits after her studies where she enjoyed teaching for a couple of years at a local school. Her passion for photography, nature and travel urged her to take a leap of faith and start her own photography and social media marketing company for lodges and hotels.

How did your love for photography and travel start?

I’ve been very lucky to have travelled extensively since an early age with my family. Our family is very adventurous, especially my dad – he’s always had this thing for finding unique experiences and I just took over from him.

Seeing such a variety of destinations over the world really sparked my love for people, cultures and history at an early age and I tried to capture the moments with our small standard “mik-en-druk” camera. Our travel photos were actually quite terrible and this triggered me to take over, direct everyone and improve my so-called “skills”. My parents saw how much I loved taking photos and bought us a Canon Rebell XTi DSLR (which I still use more than 15 years later).  In High School, I gained a Diploma in Photography and my camera hasn’t left my side.

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Please share your top photographic destinations?

In no specific order. (Each place offers so much of its own, you just can’t compare.)

  •   Namibia
  •   The Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger
  •   Tanzania – Serengeti
  •   Seychelles
  •   Maldives

What gear do you love to shoot with?

The best advice I’ve had from Outdoorphoto was to get the Canon EOS R, I’ll forever be grateful for Lappies making that suggestion.

I love how diverse it is! The video and photo quality is amazing. My most used lenses would be the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 and Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3, which automatically go with my Benro monopod. I mostly do portraits and love to focus on one subject with my wildlife photography, the 60-600mm just never disappoint. An added bonus with the EOS R is the Canon EF-EOS RF adaptor, I can still use my old lenses like the Canon 16-35mm f/4.0.

Then last but not least, my GoPro Hero6 Black is always nearby and comes in very handy with tropical destinations along with my DJI Mavic Air. These two devices are so travelling friendly!

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How much post-processing do you do?

I try to keep my photographs as natural as possible while still providing a distinct look to fit my aesthetic. Editing only involves slight colour changes or enhancements where needed on Adobe Lightroom.

Besides photography, what else really excites you in life?

Teaching and helping people, animals, painting and reading.

How does an average Charnel trip look?

Tailormade for each destination. I’m very open to anything a specific destination offers and usually adapt well to whichever environment I find myself in. 

A bit of research on where I’m going, what I’ll be able to do there and what it looks like will be done beforehand. This helps with forming content ideas but I don’t over plan as situations aren’t always predictable. You’ll find me speaking to staff or locals to find those hidden gems and adventurous activities.

A must-do on every trip is to watch the sunrise at least once, this is very difficult as I’m not a morning person. Trips are very exhausting in an exciting way so I’ve also mastered the ability to take power naps just about anywhere.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at your destination?

Talk to the locals. I believe the people make the place and learning a bit of their background and journey always provides perspective. I’m always amazed at how friendly and grateful they are to receive you. It’s beautiful to hear and see their passion as they speak.

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How do you keep your Instagram audience growing?

My page has a really broad niche within travel. You’ll find a variety of diverse activities and destinations but I think that makes it more relatable for my audience. I post content that makes me happy to look at it and it’s special to see other people reciprocate that feeling.

One of the things I began doing when scrolling through my feed was that I would take the time to actually read people’s captions (even if it’s long) and if I felt like I could add something positive, I would comment. All of us want people to like and comment on our posts, but we don’t comment on theirs…

It’s important to understand Instagram and stay updated with its new features and trends but also interact with other pages.

If you could give aspiring travel content creators one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t forget to enjoy your journey and take in your surroundings. We tend to overthink and compare ourselves to others in this industry, especially in the beginning, but no one is you, no one can create or see what you can, that moment is yours!

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