Social Networks and RSS Feeds
Instagram Instagram
About Andy


I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.




« Photo of the Day | Main | Photo of the Day »

How big is your rat?

I like to look back at my photographic journey every now and then, and why I am where I am today. I mean, I left a successful career in the software consulting industry, so why would I give up a steady job with a decent paycheck every 2 weeks? The question has many different answers for me, but the late Galen Rowell had a way of explaining why some climbers were better than others. It is all about the rat that lives inside of you.

"The phrase was coined by working class British climbers to account why some of them become so much more successful than others. The public believes that climbers who scale remote mountains, like published photographers must have greater inate talent and skill than their lesser companions, but this is not the case. The rat refers to the voracious creature gnawing at a person's stomach from the inside that drives him or her to repeatedly leave the comforts and security of civilized life to challenge him or herself in the natural world. Without a big rat, a person stays at home with the family and is content to be a shopkeeper."

-an exerpt from The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography by Galen Rowell

I realized that I had many different rats that lived inside of me. I knew that I had a desire for adventure in my life, and that I would go to my grave having regrets if this adventure rat wasn't fed. I had an inner voice that kept telling me that my life could be so much more than what it was at the time. I started my photographic safari business when I still had a full time job. I was working for a UK-based software company, and as a result I did have more vacation time than the average working American. I used this time off to my advantage, and in the beginning I spent all of my vacation time of 4 weeks in Africa each year. So I decided to lead 2 safaris each year, and this worked out very well for a few years. But the rat was getting bigger inside, and it needed to be fed. Fast forward a few years, and Leslie and I were expecting the birth of our baby boy. My travel schedule was extremely hectic, and I knew that this would be disruptive as a parent. Leslie would be disappointed with my travel schedule, and there had to be a better way to live my life.

It was at the 6-month pregnancy point when we (yes, we) decided that I would turn my photographic safari and workshop business into a full time (more than full time!) job. Well, I haven't looked back. But again the rat keeps eating away for more. So now this leads to the starting of a niche photographic product, which I will begin marketing and selling in early 2008. With one challenge under my belt, I am starting another one. The move from full time employee to self employed was a huge leap of faith, and I am a better person because of it. I am by nature a very risk averse person. However, there is a difference between calculated risk and being reckless. I like to think that my situation has all been about the former.

So I have to ask, what is *your* rat?

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

IP: paulabrahamson@hotmail.comURL: http://Yep I know what you mean. It was so good to see you guys last year and see how the changes you'd made were benefiting home life and you having more time at home with Christian and Leslie. Your closing question is a good one ... one to keep me pondering for a little while yet I think. All the best for the upcoming venture.
November 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Abrahamson
IP: eric.bowen@gmail.comURL:I'm living a similar story, just not quite so far along. I work full-time for Microsoft, but this spring I spend 2 weeks in Iraq shooting pictures of an US Army infantry company in combat. In January my rat and I will be back in Iraq again...
November 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commentereric_the_web
IP: andybiggs@gmail.comURL: http://www.andybiggs.comThat's a great story, Eric. Keep it going, and keep feeding the rat inside.
November 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Biggs

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>