bird photographer of the year. rhino. william steel photography

William Steel Photography: Profiled by A Writer

“Great photography is a combination of beauty and intrigue.” William Steel.

I’ve filled my site with incredible images. Some stock, and some of them I technically hold rights to, despite never snapping a decent picture myself or having paid for the privilege of using them. There’s no fair use policy, I can do whatever I want with the beautiful shots, even if that means printing a poetry quote over the top and posting them to Instagram as my own creations. I’m afforded this freedom by an incredible photographer, my friend, William Steel.


When William Met An Aspiring Rapper

I first met Will at University, and we both knew we’d never be friends. We were too different. Me, the rapper turned poet from East London, and Will, the son of a South African businessman. But we were thrown together by the struggles of freshers, in that all we did in our first year was drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol that cost more than we should’ve spent. We built a friendship on single malt scotch and Grey Goose vodka.

William’s passion for photography shone in those days, but he never expressed much of a desire to pursue his dream full-time. We spent most of our time drinking and messing around because our future careers seemed miles away, but the pub was down the road. The first time I experienced Will’s photography was in the student filled nightclubs while we all crammed onto a sticky dancefloor.

As we danced offbeat to the latest music without a care in the world, Will would crouch down and snap a selfie. He’d repeat the same shot until he managed to get a decent picture of our group. Later, he’d began jumping into a crouch and yelling, reverse angle selfie. Everyone huddled together and laughed at Will’s excitement. Back then, he experimented by having fun and still does.

Colourful Puffin by William Steel Photography
One of his earliest shots came from a trip to Wales when we were both still at University. The contrast of colours makes this image one of his more visually striking, although he would argue that this isn’t one of his best pictures.

The Pursuit of Photography

Will was born in Johannesburg, but he grew up in Botswana, a country he credits with giving him the passion for the wildlife that forged his photography style. I have one of Will’s earliest practice shots of a cheetah devouring a recent kill, and to mine and Williams knowledge, it’s the only copy in existence. Which means I have a vested interest in his career. One day the original image may be worth millions.

In 2016, Will and I were joined by another friend from university on a road trip around the southern countries of Africa. On this trip, we witnessed Williams obsessive compulsion with snapping the right shot. As we drove through national parks, we’d stop for what felt like hours as Will tried to capture the perfect image of a bird, insect, giraffe, elephant or anything that appeared in a strange or unusual way.

It was during this trip that Will began to experiment more and more with different photography styles. At Khama Rhino Sanctuary we watched Will chase the stars for hours trying to capture rotating earth with a slow shutter speed to make the light appear as if shot across the night sky. Throughout Namibia, he’s focus was on the beautiful landscapes. And in the rain of Victoria Falls, the reverse angle selfie made a comeback.

The lion and butterfly, playing with death, by William Steel Photography
I was sat next to Will in Chobe national park, and he managed to capture my version of this image, but Will deleted it to save professional face, either that or mine was so out of focus, he worried someone might have found it on his camera and think he’d taken it. The Daily Mail featured this image on their website.

Wildlife Photography

There’s a wealth of wildlife in African national parks, but most of it is under threat of extinction. Wills images help remind the world that these animals are worth our protection. Our abnormal human activities have destroyed habitats and disrupted the natural order, but the fightback begins with charities and wildlife photographers showing us the damage we’ve caused.

One of my favourite images involves two cheetahs exploring Will’s GoPro camera. The picture shows the inquisitive nature of growing animals, in which all humans can relate. All of us, growing up, search for new experiences, and we still do as we grow. After all, isn’t that why we dream about travelling?

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The "is this thing recording" face.

A post shared by Wildlife | Safari (@williamsteelphotography) on

Travel and Street Photography

Williams’ Photography branched out from wildlife into street photography as he began to explore abstract styles of photography. Will still loves wildlife and wants to spread a positive message about our world, but he can’t spend his life in natural parks, despite a despite yearning to live amongst animals. However, without the wildlife, Will stills feels a compulsion to use his camera.

From his exploration of streets around him, and the world, Will began recording his adventures around the world. It was an extension of a portfolio he first began exploring during our road trip around Southern Africa. Unfortunately, he lost the hard drive with most of the memories from our adventures which means his work doesn’t feature in our shared Travel Tales. Since then, Will has documented his travels around South East Asia on


Will devotes a lot of time to his photography. When he isn’t stalking wildlife, looking for a new shot, he’s scouring the internet and magazines looking for competitions to enter. He has regularly entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, and his work has earned him numerous awards. His most recent award was in the Best Portrait category of the Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 competition.

In addition to awards, William has seen his work published in numerous books and magazines. A comprehensive list of his publications can be found here, but his proudest publication is the Remembering Elephants and Remembering Rhinos series by Wildlife Photographers United. The group aim’s to spread awareness and protect wildlife from the destruction of their habitats and poaching.

Will took a break from publishing and promoting his own images to work for National Geographic Film Unit where he was a part of the team who put together the Savage Kingdom documentary series. This role earned him a listing on IMDb. However, despite the numerous accreditations and publications, Will’s proudest moment was becoming an ambassador for Sigma South Africa.

vietnamese man and a dog, travelling south east asia by William Steel Photography
There’s a story behind this natural-looking image. Will left our group to photograph a street he’d seen earlier on and met this incredible man. He’d looked up and found William taking pictures. The man began posing for Will, but after a conversation with Will about Vietnam. the man agreed to return to his natural pose. Will and the Man were all smiles afterwards, happy with the incredible image.

What’s Next for The Professional Photographer and The Rapper Turned Poet From East London?

Both Will and I are dedicated to exploring the world and documenting our adventures through our respective arts. I have numerous travel tales that feature Will, and I’ve found myself the subject of many of his photographic experiments.

We’ve climbed sand dunes in Namibia, got lost in the Medinas of Morocco, and I almost drown in Vietnam. We’re currently looking at travelling around South America and I’ve even begun learning Spanish in preparation.  Whether these plans come to fruition or not, Will and I remain great friends who continue to push each other and look for interesting ways to work together.

will and I enjoying a beer
Do you remember that time you jumped off a boat at Ha Long Bay, forgetting you can’t swim?

Thanks for reading, I hope you found it interesting. You can find more about William Steel on Instagram and Facebook. But if you want to learn more about him or buy a picture for your living room, you can find him at


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