- The Photographic Safari
A thousand moons and a hundred flights and 4x4 drives ago, a man put a camera in my hand and said go. He was my first editor. He armed me with other tools, too but the camera changed everything.
The photographs and words of photojournalists returned from the frontline, the wild, were the stars in my sky. My guides. Dusty paths, the risk of the unknown and the hiding, wild-haired photographers and their search for “the shot,” writers in wide-brimmed hats with typewriters on their laps … they gave me purpose. The travel magazines filling my wardrobes were a doorway to a world I did not know. Countries and cultures I could only imagine. In their images, I saw life. I saw an invitation.
Photography has served as a way to shed light on the beauty of the world, on the things that matter. On the exotic and the everyday. It has taught me how to see. How to think, feel. It has given me a thousand moons (and a hundred flights and 4x4 drives) worth of joy.
Creativity Gone Wild
The photographic safari is no different. On a recent journey into the wilds of Botswana, with the Great Plains Conservation, the tools handed to me revealed new details of the animal kingdom, ones I didn’t know, sunrise scenes that were dreamlike and constantly changing, complex plant life I’d previously overlooked.
From Zarafa Camp in the Selinda Reserve with its large herds of elephants to Duba Plains Camp in the Okavango Delta and its lion prides roaming freely, I followed in the footsteps of two photographic heroes. Wildlife filmmakers and photographers, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, the camps’ founders.
With the assistance of my guides, I saw firsts, I saw bests, and I got closer to the heart of my subject. The heart of the wilderness. The heart of Africa.
"These are the sights we often miss, in the flurry of the game drive. But through the art of photography, it all becomes clear."
There are moments I will never forget—and don’t have to, because here they are, frozen, preserved, memorialized.
Tracking lions across the waterways of the Okavango, watching cubs splashing in shallow streams. Close-ups of noses scrunched at the touch of water. A pink tongue mid-lick. An exposed tooth mid-yawn.
Lying behind a mound as elephants ambled past, I felt the full gravity of the wild up-close, no walls, no doors, only my camera. Zooming in on their actions and reactions, their steps, their padded feet and the veins in their ears. The golden-hour light dancing over the grass.
The flap of an African fish eagle’s wings, a carmine bee-eater wrestling an insect in its beak, a lilac-breasted roller darting from tree to tree.
These are the sights we often miss, in the flurry of the game drive. But through the art of photography, it all becomes clear: in the slow meditation of lying on the ground, level with the wild ones, or in the game vehicle, breathless, bent over the camera, click click clicking.
These are the moments when I feel most alive.
Wildlife photography for everyone
At both Botswanan camps, as with the Great Plains Conservation camps in Kenya (Mara Plains and ol Donyo Lodge), each tent provides a Canon camera and lenses for guests to use during their stay. On departure, the images you’ve taken are downloaded and given to you to take home. A photojournalist yourself, returning with dispatches from the field.
The camps are perfect for any level of photographer, from professional to committed hobbyist to novice.
The safari vehicles are open 4x4s with a maximum of six guests (private vehicles available), many of which come with stabilizing bean bags and camera mounts.
Duba Plains Camp has a specialist photographic boat for exploring the Okavango Delta. At Duba Plains Camp and Zarafa Camp, guests can book a scenic helicopter flight to capture aerial shots.