You may recognise him as the ever-so-smiley guy who’s always taking selfies with quokkas, or simply known as The Quokka Guy. We had the chance to catch up with Allan Dixon just before he gave a talk at Apple (yes, he’s not always out in the wild or on the ground taking selfies with quokkas). While he gave us very useful tips and tricks on taking great pictures with animals (the team has tried it out—totally worked!), Allan also shared with us his plans to move into creating content to bring more awareness to wildlife rescues or even animals for that matter.
Do you remember your first interaction with an animal, and did that make you realise that you love them?
It was when we had our first family dog, TJ, when I was about 12. She was my family’s pride and joy—my source of happiness and excitement growing up. She was the best.
What was the one thing that made you quit your day job to travel the world and become a full time animal whisperer?
It was actually a series of events which made me realise the world was trying to tell me to stop doing whatever I was doing and pursue what I was happy and passionate about. My passion have always been doing videos since I was a child. I’d film my friends and I doing tricks all the time, and it progressed from there.
My parents were very traditional; they wanted me to have a job in a big company and you know, stability. I studied engineering and computer science in college, and had a regular job after, but I wasn’t mentally happy going down those paths. Coincidentally and ironically, I was winning competitions and earning more money from making videos than I was doing my day job.
The one thing that made me give up my day job for this was when I entered the Tourism Australia‘s Best Job In The World competition in 2013. I had to do cool and funny stuff in videos to harness media attention and create buzz—which was what I was doing in my free time and loved it anyway, so I thought, why don’t I just make a career out of this?
What are some tips and tricks you do to get animals comfortable enough for a selfie?
It’s all about time and patience… and taking a million pictures. I’m also always on the ground army crawling towards or around the animals, because I don’t want to be seen as a threat…like a big giant lurching over them, you know? However, always pay attention to the animal’s mood.
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What was the most dangerous animal you’ve ever taken pictures with?
A grizzly bear which was on the set of a movie. It may have been somewhat trained, but when you’re next to a grizzly bear, it’s ridiculous.
What functions or tips on the iPhone X do you use to take selfies in the fastest time possible?
Let’s just take quokkas, dogs, and cats as examples. This is something interesting that not many people do; but do this—flip your phone upside down, turn on the portrait mode (front camera facing you, bottom of phone facing up to the sky) and lie on the ground. As you’re on the ground, your face will be straight, and small animals will naturally look downwards. So there you have it, both of you will be looking straight at the camera—perfect!
I used to always carry my DSLR around, but now with the quality and technology used in the iPhone X, I’ve cut down on my gear so much! 90% of my videos and photos I shoot for Instagram are shot on the iPhone X, because it’s just so nimble and not as interfering as well.
Which animal would you most want to have a selfie with? and why?
A Dassie (officially known as the Rock Hyrax) for sure! It’s an animal that looks a little like the quokka, but they’re from South Africa and surprisingly from the elephant family! I’ve made the quokkas so iconic, I feel like these little guys need some attention too.
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How do you think your photos and videos of animals can inspire the world?
I feel like these photos and videos I’ve taken have helped showcase this other world to people who’ve never seen or experienced what I have, and it’s creating awareness all around! I’ve got an upcoming project with a Japanese company to create content for a global movement in animal rescue. That’s the route I’d like to go down, whether it’s with organisations or through philanthropy groups.
What is your spirit animal?
Probably a lion, because I’m a Leo anyway. Or I could be a quokka.