Michael Poliza isn't one of those photographers who was born into the trade. In fact, as a teenager, he was a well-known actor in Germany who appeared in more than 100 television shows and films. Later, Poliza would become a successful businessman, working in the IT sector. It was only during his third career that he found his true calling as a photographer. That was only five years ago.
“I asked myself in my mid thirties what really makes me happy,” he says. “And after much soul searching I realized that being in nature is really important to me. So starting the Starship Millenium Voyage project was really a way for me to see a large part of the less traveled world and taking pictures along the way was very rewarding.”
The Starship Millenium Voyage project brought journalists and photographers together to document the state of the world's wild locations. It's where Poliza discovered the beauty of the game reserves and nature parks of southern Africa. Fast forward to 2006 and Poliza launches a book called AFRICA that receives rave reviews and has everyone from ABC's Good Morning America to The New York Times talking about it.
Poliza has since taken helicopter journeys over Africa and Antarctica, showing the world visions of animals they'd, quite possibly, never seen. “I believe my style only developed about 6 to 8 years ago,” Poliza says. “I was photographing African wildlife and thought, there are a million pictures of elephants and lions out there. No point to do another one unless they look different. So I tried looking at wildlife in more of an artistic way, and less in a documentary way. Is that something i learned? I don't think so, I think that was just there.”
Poliza believes that 90 percent of his photos are a product of luck. By his definition, however, that's “When preparation meets opportunity.” While there are a few images that he anticipates, he hardly ever has a specific shot in mind when he wakes up in the morning. Lucky for us, he's armed and ready whenever an opportunity presents itself.