plateau in the Namib Desert, I watched in awe as he
slowly walked directly in front of me and began
feasting on some vegetation just below.
For a few moments, aware of me so close to him...
he accepted my presence.
As I lay flat, I captured this moment with a 20mm lens,
very rare in Wildlife Photography.
I also broke my steadfast rule of not interfering in
any way with wildlife in the natural world,
and I reached out and touched his horn.
and he didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, its OK to break the rules...
Never have I been to a place where I’ve felt so much at home as on the African Continent.
Never was there a land I traveled to in which I just never wanted to leave. Never tiring of exploring it or seeing it from different views. A hot air balloon floating effortlessly over the Serengeti at dawn, gently brushing the Acacias. Meandering over herds of zebra, wildebeests and prides of lions as the sun rises gently over the horizen.
On foot, hiking through the Veld of Southern Africa or the plains of East Africa’s Serengeti, pausing to gaze over Mount Kilimanjaro and feeling as if I had come full circle in life.
My eyes welling with tears as I first saw it emerge boldly through the clouds in Amboseli, a childhood dream realized. It was as if that moment I had become a man…I felt proud and humble at the same time, and truly understood and respected both.
Traversing thousands of kilometers in small clunkers over roads, some paved, most gravel...some even smooth, through country that changes in character; the vast desolate terrain of the Kalahari in South Africa, lush, fertile farmlands about the Great Rift Valley; surreal moonscapes of Namibia...
From a small Cessna experiencing the past, flying low and slow over abandoned diamond mines, above Soussesvlei in the Namib Desert and up along the Skeleton Coast, where the sand dunes meet the sea. Some of the most devastatingly brutal coasts in the world, full of contrasts...
Sand and sea...life and death.
Shipwrecks where you can't even imagine the fear and courage those men felt.
Flying over Walvis Bay where there are seals as far as the eyes can see,
and gliding over the lush bed of life that is the Okavango Delta...
I dreamed of these lands as a child.
High adventure...wild untamable beauty.
And that is and always will be a great part of Africa. But there are the other realities as well. Poverty...harsh and very brutal, with refugee children missing limbs from all kinds of horror.
Villages ravaged by aids, communities in rural Botswana where victims of this dreaded disease sit around community well circles and wait to die.
Shanty towns in South Africa where violence and pain is everyday, every night...Street crime in Nairobi that is met with violence in return by the locals who live there, who strive for a peaceful community amid the havoc of African life.
Yet despite this, life goes on, people laugh, people smile, people LIVE.
Some of the most enchanting, courageous and vibrant people I have ever met, have been met within this amazing continent. Varied cultures that dazzle the senses.
I have been welcomed with open arms into Maasai villages, ones far removed from the tourist destinations. No one spoke English, yet we laughed together. I shared their huts. There was trust and there was genuine curiosity, but most of all there was tolerance and understanding.
Cultures differ, but humankind does not...
We all want peace...we all want happiness.
The sound of children laughing echoed in a small village in Namibia, as they tried unsuccessfully
to rub off my tattooes. They followed me around like a little army...a Rapscallion Brigade!
A burley white guy with long hair and a beard, I was laughing with them...and we were armed with candy bars and the simple gift of wonderment at the people and places around us.
Laughter sounds the same in any language, yes?
Perhaps it can be said that a life well spent is one where impressions...
GOOD impressions, are left behind along with your footprints.
In a land where people aren't always viewed as equals, I hope they, and all the others I met, remember me as a man who did.
The contrasts are staggering. The mood of celebration in the streets of Cairo lasts well into the night. Swept into a wedding party while wandering about the town close to midnight, I danced with my new friends, played drums, smiled, laughed and was made to feel welcome.
I've sat with men on the stoops of petrol stations along highways of
Namibia and we talked about war and peace, love and life.
We laughed, shared stories, ideals, and we solved the world's problems simply...as men of honour and integrity do. Imagine that...
And so many evenings in my beloved Southern Africa, sleeping under the stars in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa…
I listened to the quiet of the bush and became a part of the African night. With shooting stars performing their ritual dances across the great canvas above, it was like witnessing a wildly vivid artist at work.
Nature does some of her best work there with flora and fauna that
boggle the mind. It all works in harmony, all has a purpose…
there is meaning that is pure and simple in the natural world.
I go there to capture images, to pursue my passion of photography…
but there are so many times when the camera body dangles at my side while my eyes and my soul just drink in the magic before me.
An evening above Lake Nakuru, watching the sun set over this mystical region of the Great Rift Valley…Tens of thousands of Flamingos surrounding the lake like a fluttering blush roseate anthem…
The emerald softness of the surrounding forests beginning to fade
as the sun moves on. There was a magical moment.
I had a tri-pod, I had plenty of Velvia, it could have been beautiful…
but that's the point, it already was. I couldn't look away.
That moment, as many others, has become who I am.
It is embedded in my character; it will be with me forever.