Niki Colemont dedicates his life to photographing red squirrels. His passion - which led to him winning a National Geographic Photography award - came after years of battling depression. Here, the Belgium man shares his story - and photographs - with Lifestyle News.
I’m so blessed to have the squirrels in my life and to spend my free time with them. They give me a lot of power and motivation to keep going. My journey was a real rollercoaster.
I came to Belgium in 1990 with my sister at the age of four before the Rwandan genocide broke out.
It was hard growing up in a country without knowing the language.
I had no clue how to make friends and I was always alone and scared to talk to people because everybody was white.
I was so happy and grateful that I had my sister. But when she died in 2019 I became broken, suffering depression and mental problems.
I did not want to pick up my camera for a long time. Eventually, I found the power again in nature photography. I was still blessed with the squirrels that visited each day.
With all the things that have happened in my life, I was still able to enjoy my hobby. Luckily, my girlfriend and her parents believed in me from the start and gave me the freedom and opportunity to buy the professional Nikon camera gear I needed to pursue what I loved.
I have a lot of support from people who follow and appreciate my work. They also push me to continue with what I’m doing and I’m very happy to have them in my life.
In 2022 I achieved a significant career milestone by becoming a National Geographic Photography Contest winner with one of my squirrel images.
I’m also very honoured to say that I have my own documentary that has been watched over 5 million times on You Tube and Facebook.
Photography Is a great way for me to express my feelings. I’m a very happy guy and always smiling and that’s a feeling that I want to show in my pictures.
I somehow developed a special kind of affection for squirrels. I consider them the perfect models. They can do a lot of things that humans can.
They are cute, curious, persistent, and very smart without them I would be lost I can truly say that they saved my life they came in to my life when I needed them the most!
The goal of my photos is to show people how they helped me with my depression. I hope that my could story could help many other people.
Check out Niki's Instagram account here