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Photographer Gets Up Close and Personal With An Angry Lion

By Hanssie on April 11th 2015

Admit it. As a photographer, you’ve done stuff that the normal people wouldn’t do, just to get a shot. Photographers go into war zones, hang from helicopters, dangle off rooftops, trespass, and do any number of things that could get them seriously injured or killed because we want to document what’s around us. That is our art.

So when nature photographer Atif Saeed was facing a not-so-happy looking lion at a safari park in Pakistan, he did what many photographers would do. With the car door open, Saeed, who was seated on the ground, took a few precious seconds to grab a few shots and then scrambled to safety back into his jeep. Saeed tells Daily Mail, ‘I was thinking – I must show the character and status of the lion and this was the only way I could think of to achieve this. I was laughing at that time, but now when I think back about the incident I don’t think I would be able to do it again. It was a pretty close encounter.”

Lions are the second largest cat in the family Felidae, some weighing in at 500lbs. At the top of the food chain, the king of the jungle is a fierce and dangerous beast that you wouldn’t want charging toward you. Obviously, any time you are working around wild animals, especially ones that have really big teeth and can tear you to pieces, you should take extreme caution, not only for your own safety, but for the safety of the animals as well. That said, if you found yourself in a situation where a lion came at you such as the one above, would you take the shot or run?


See more of Atif Saeed’s incredible nature images on 500pxFacebook and Flickr.

CREDITS: Photographs by Atif Saeed have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Thomas Horton

    Nature’s way of saying “I would rather you not take my photograph, if you please”.

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  3. Sohan Dewan

    You are doing a brave thing Saeed. But you have to more careful to doing this in future, cause if there will make any accident then you don’t get any chance ever to do this again.
    (Expert photo retoucher belong to –

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  4. William Emmett

    Shooting a charging lion, would depend on how long the telephoto lens is, and a trip free jump into the truck. Then it’s Miller Time.


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  5. Brandon Dewey


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  6. David Hall

    What an incredible image. Nicely done.

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  7. Brandon Silvera

    Id only shoot that lion at 300m & up

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  9. Peter Nord

    Bet these guys were closer, and got the flick too.

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    • robert garfinkle

      thats too funny

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    • robert garfinkle

      This article mentions trespass. For me, the answer was yes, I did. I was on the property to get a shot… and the next year told to get off… it was fall, capturing tree colors…

      So, let’s say I am off the property, already asked to not take pictures. If I stand a half mile away, with a zoom lens, is it still considered trespassing?

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  10. Barry Cunningham

    He’s a jerk.
    There are consequences for the animals, none of them good.
    The lion is less likely to escape unharmed from future human interactions.

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  11. Ralph Hightower

    Okay, photographing or filming on railroad tracks is damn stupid! Just ask those that survived the train accident in filming Midnight Rider.
    But I stood on train tracks to take a photo of an oncoming train. I was in Cedar Rapids, IA and Quaker Oats has a plant there. The train track interrupting 4th Street is used as a switching station. The train travels at about 5 miles per hour.
    There was one meeting of the computer contractors with a telephone long distance company that no longer exists. The train switching cars blocked our access back to work. I told a friend “We can get back to work.” “How?” “We can jump the train” and I pointed over where there was a skywalk.
    Now, I just need to find the negative of the train; I call the photo “4th Street Blues”.

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    • robert garfinkle

      that counts as photography overcomes fear… wow..

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Nah, the Quaker Oaks train in Cedar Rapids travels at walking speed; or at least it did in 1994.

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    • robert garfinkle


      the japanese bullet train, that’s fear… or is that insanity… at the point in which you get decent depth of field, even from a 300mm lens – with the engineer’s eyes all bugged out cause you are standing on the tracks… it’s all over

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  12. robert garfinkle

    Beyond impressed –

    Formula: Camera in hand > fear

    Though I have never gone up against a lion / wild animal, I will say the formula does apply. There are many fears I have which seem to vanish when I have a camera in hand… btw – separate from this, is the other formula, where obsession <= insanity; how far do you go, pushing the danger limit, to get a shot?

    My most recent experience, was Thursday, dropped a note to Hanssie Wednesday night, about my first "official" storm chase. Our priority, was safety first, help people second, shots third… that set of rules will keep a disaster from happening at least from the grips of insane thinking. Accidents do happen.

    Yes, I was partaking in the chase of the HP Supercell, just south of Davenport IA, which did spawn tornadoes before it hit the Illinois border and proceeded to drop an F4 that ripped a path for 50 miles, through Rochelle IL. No, we did not capture funnels or the twister, but it was difficult to chase it. Thunderstorms and Tornadoes do not pay attention to traffic / rush hour, but we had to… got some great rotating wall-cloud action along with the typical murky green skies which carry the hail. what a ride that was…

    we did see at least two tipped over 18 wheelers, one driver was ok, the other, dunno, the police had the road blocked on that one… :(

    But, like the photographer above, who got the amazing shots above, yet knew when enough was enough, we did the same, at least kept pursuit at safe distance.

    Another experience, where two fears were tackled, in 2012, when I scaled a ski jump (Pine Mountain) in Iron mountain Michigan, to get the shot of looking afar with my camera. That jump was 176ft high. Of course my second fear was met when we got to the top. Who'd a thunk that there would be a clan of big bumble bees up top that mountain. yup, my other fear…

    But, rather than panic, got to the top, dealt with the bees, and so it goes…


    what was strange, there were about 4 – 5 of these guys just hanging around, kickin' it, enjoying the view. Their butt's seemed to be tucked under them. Just nuts…

    So, we did not bother them, they did not bother us…

    it's all good…

    and so it goes…

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  13. Graham Curran

    You need to be sure of where you can run to because these photo opportunities might only come once in your lifetime.

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  14. robert s

    you must have looked yummy to him and his teeth was itching haha

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  15. Bárbara Herrnsdorf

    Wow! Saeed really did capture the character of the lion, alright! Amazing! And I can totally relate when he says that later on he thought, well…I might not be able to do it again! I totally understand!

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