Marina Cano

A monochrome image of an elephant throwing dust over itself in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

For this image of an elephant taking a dust bath in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, Canon Ambassador Marina Cano dropped to the ground, creating a clean background with no distractions. "It made all the difference," she says. "Once you are at the same level as him, you can feel the power of nature." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark III with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens at 1/1250 sec, f/4 and ISO1250. © Marina Cano

Spanish nature photographer and Canon Ambassador Marina Cano, who specialises in African wildlife, has received extraordinary recognition for her work. Her spectacular images of the animal kingdom have won many awards and been exhibited all over the world. 
Graduating as a musician, Marina spent her early years teaching classical music. She had, however, been taking photographs since she was a teenager, honing her skills at Cabárceno Wildlife Park in Cantabria, a refuge for endangered wildlife. Years later, Marina turned professional and began to travel to Africa, where she quickly fell in love with the continent. 

Marina's lifelong devotion to wildlife and nature eventually led her to pursue photography full-time. She has published the books Cabárceno (2009), Drama & Intimacy (2011), the e-book Babies of The Wild (2015), Inspiración y Naturaleza (2016) and her most recent volume, Wild Soul (2018). Her images have been published around the world in numerous respected publications, including a cover for the National Geographic book The Wisdom of Mums, a cover shot on the National Geographic Traveler magazine in Spain, as well as images in its Spain, Portugal and Poland guides.

Canon Ambassador Marina Cano holds a Canon camera fitted with a telephoto lens
Location: Santander, Cantabria, Spain

Specialist area: Wildlife

Favourite kit: 

A pangolin at night, looking round towards the camera with its head covered in red sand.

Marina was able to take advantage of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III's exceptional low-light capabilities to achieve this striking shot of a pangolin in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. "After three nights searching in vain, our incredible tracker found this beauty. Pangolins are unfortunately the most trafficked animal in the world," she says. Taken with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM) at 135mm, 1/200 sec, f/4 and ISO12800. © Marina Cano

In 2015, she was a finalist in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. In the same year she was appointed as a Canon Ambassador. She delivers lectures and photography courses around the world, and has exhibited in cities worldwide, including Havana, Seoul, Cape Town, Seville and London.
Known for her distinctive fine art, portraiture style of wildlife photography, Marina says there's no magic recipe for creating images of animals in ways that people haven't seen before. However, she believes that if you are passionate and dedicated to putting the time in you will soon develop your own unique style of imagery.

Three giraffes walking together. The necks of the closest two are leaning in slightly to form a triangular shape, while the third is visible in the gap between them.

A group of giraffes in Kenya's famous Masai Mara nature reserve. "When I saw these giraffes in the distance, I guided my driver to position the car so I could create this 'corridor' in between the two foreground giraffes to frame the one at the back. Then I just waited for the tail to fly." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO100. © Marina Cano

What drives Marina these days are the stories behind the images; the same enthusiasm for wildlife that motivated her to pick up a camera as a child. She hopes that photographers who are equally passionate about their subjects remember that it is easy to think you've been lucky when you get a shot you are proud of, but behind every successful image there is a story to tell. It's a story not just about the animal, but about yourself – the hours waiting in the rain, in the cold, in sometimes harsh environments, watching and waiting for that perfect moment to press the shutter button. Then there are weeks and months of intense research, not to mention the big sacrifices made to be able to purchase all the expensive gear. There is more to a great image than just serendipity.

How did you get your passion for wildlife?

"There is a famous quote that says, 'I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me'. As a child, I was lucky enough to have the largest wildlife park in Europe just 15 minutes away from my home in Cantabria, Spain. It was here that I fell in love with wildlife, and that love took me to 'the place I was born': Africa." 
Who have been your biggest influences?

"The biggest influence on me by far was my father: his love for nature, his curiosity in life, and the fact that he was an amateur photographer were all big influences on me picking up a camera for the first time. So I learnt a great deal from him. As I began taking photos the work of Gregory Colbert, Nick Brandt and Steve Bloom also provided great inspiration."
How important is understanding animal behaviour for a wildlife photographer?

"Understanding animal behaviour can help in some moments, and with some species, but for me I think it is far more important to be passionate about wildlife photography. You need a passion to be there waiting for action, and to persevere."
Do you have certain species in mind when you go out photographing, or are you ready for anything?

"I try to stay ready for everything. Whatever big or small thing surprises me, this impacts me. It doesn't matter if it's an ant or an elephant! I like all challenges."
Do you take certain gear with you for different species of animals?

"It depends on the environment I'm planning to visit. If I know I'm going to be far away from the animals, for instance, I make sure to pack a long lens. Or if there is any possibility of including an amazing landscape to give context, then I'll pack a wide angle, or my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM."

One thing I know

Marina Cano

"I wish that when I was younger I had believed in myself more, and stopped thinking so much that I couldn't do something. 'Just go girl, go!' That's what I wish I could tell my younger self. I think the best thing photographers can do for themselves is to forget about any boundaries that are only in our heads. Work hard at what you want to do and just go for it. That's what I did, and as I did it I realised that I could have done it several years before. Don't waste time!"

Facebook: @marinacanowildlifephotographer

Instagram: @marinacano

Twitter: @MarinaCanoPhoto


Marina Cano's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Marina Cano's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The EOS-1D X Mark III is the ultimate creative toolkit, with superb low-light performance, deep learning AF and 5.5K RAW video. "It's my main and preferred camera," says Marina.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

A highly capable pro DSLR. 20.2 Megapixel full-frame sensor. 61-point AF system. Up to 14fps. ISO to 409,600. "The image quality plus the ISO performance and the reliability in all kinds of weather, make this camera the best for wildlife," says Marina.


Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM

A super lightweight 600mm lens with a fast f/4 aperture, perfect for wildlife. "For me it's a must have in the wild," says Marina. "You can get extraordinary detail in the skin or the face of animals."

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM

The professional, L-series super telephoto sports lens with a wide f/2.8 aperture and Image Stabilizer. "I love the fantastic out-of-focus backgrounds I can create in my pictures with this lens," says Marina.


Canon Extender EF 1.4x III

A professional grade extender that increases focal length of L-series lenses by 1.4x. "The extenders are perfect for the fixed lenses and in those situations where your subject is too far away to get a good result," says Marina.

Canon Extender EF 2x III

This extender increases the focal length of Canon L-series telephoto or telephoto zoom lens' by a factor of 2x, with higher AF accuracy and improved communication between camera and lens.


"I use it very little because of the restrictions in many areas, but I like to take it in some exotic destinations, for landscapes," says Marina.


"I use filters for some landscapes, especially on the coast," says Marina. "I use gradual filters to get good light in the foreground and to stop the background being too bright."


"My preference is to handhold my lenses but I use a tripod for landscapes, and with some super-teles I use a monopod," says Marina. "The perfect combination for my wildlife photography is the EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM with a monopod. It’s very light and for some short periods of time you can easily handhold it."

Mosquito repellent

"I cannot imagine Africa without it," says Marina.

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