An experienced wildlife photographer with over 30 years of experience. These photographs were taken in a Kenyan reserve and are timeless. He brings a fresh twist to wildlife photography. We are used to seeing it in color. His black-and-white photographs capture the essence of the animals freshly. His angles are stunning, and his message is clear for those who appreciate black and white photography.
These photographs capture animals’ power, beauty, and soul that we rarely get to see. He shows us the behavior of these animals so we can appreciate them as they truly are, wild and free.
Tell us about your professional history.
Since 2000, I have been a full-time wildlife photographer. Born and raised in Kenya, I went to the U.K. to further my education. I then returned to my passion after making enough contacts and saving enough money. Since then, I have not looked back.
For my first assignment in National Geographic magazine, 2001, I was honored with the National Geographic call. Seven more assignments followed, and I was featured in every major magazine worldwide.
Now, I am fascinated by fine art photography. I wondered if I could find the right balance between documentary and fine art photography. The publication of three books based on photography for Abrams, a New York publisher, began this journey. My most recent project, the Mara, is a book that attempts to make the viewer experience what it is like to feel intimate with wild animals and thus feel a primal connection. The unique style of photography I use is marked by a unique perspective that conveys immediacy and inclusion. It is as if the viewer were transported to the private world of a wild animal.
I was listed in The World’s Top Wildlife Photographers (Rotovision 2004) and Horzu magazine (February 2010) as one of the five top wildlife photographers worldwide. I’m also one of 10 “Masters” featured in the book Masters of Nature Photography (Natural History Museum September 2013).
In the past, I have exhibited solo at venues like Visa Pour L’Image, and (group) The Natural History MuseumLondon. In 2016, he had solo exhibits at Umbria World Festival in Italy and Konica Minolta Gallery in Tokyo.
How did your niche develop in black-and-white wildlife photography?
Colour wildlife photography was frustrating to me. Its primary purpose in this genre is to replicate reality, i.e., document. The color is too real. But when I’m in nature with animals, it is a very different experience.
Could your preference for black and white photography be explained?
Of course, color has its place. It’s great for documentation. It is great for photographing in rich, vivid colors. Photography is an expression, and black and white seem to work better.
They move me when I’m in nature with them. Black and white photography is better at communicating my emotions. Black and white can also reveal the essence of wild animals to bring out their souls. It seems to capture what lies below the surface.
Black and white open up a new world of texture, lines and contrasts, and light and shadow. This world can be used to balance an animal’s personality. For the world I imagined, black and white seemed a natural choice.
The photos in your series “Holocene”, which I believe are stampedes, show up very close. How do you get so close to your subjects when photographing?
Three cameras, three wide-angle lenses with varying focal lengths and in a protective housing. I also have the equipment to remotely control them, including a 4×4 wheel jeep, binoculars, classic fiction such as The Great Gatsby, and non-fiction books about everything except politics. I also have a sense of humor, I believe.
I rise before dawn to drive from my tent towards one of my “outdoor studios” – areas where animals return, where there is good light, and the background is pleasant. Next, I camouflage my camera in the housing and set it up. Next, I move to approximately 50 yards. I can then view the scene from my jeep and remotely control the camera, such as zooming in and out and changing the shutter speed. It’s just a matter of waiting. You can be there every day. Sometimes I read, and sometimes I write. Sometimes I look. You can see miles across Mara’s plains. All that is happening makes me lose track of time.
Are you afraid to lose one of your winning shots?
Although I’m far from the animals, the camera is right there.
I have never had to deal with animals in dangerous situations. My primary concern is the welfare of the animals. I must make sure they are happy and do what they want. Imagine if I put myself at risk to get a special shot. Because the animal had become dangerous, the park authorities would shoot it. This is not fair or truthful.
What are you hoping viewers will take away from these images?
In my work, I want to bring viewers into intimate contact with wild animals in their own homes. The viewer will be able to feel the earth, smell and hear the wind, and touch the elephant’s wrinkled skin. Mara is my goal to make you a resident of this wild habitat.
I’m a happy human if I can transport you into the private space of wild animals and transport you to another world.
Which is your favorite story from all of your wildlife adventures?
None that I’m afraid of. I enjoy being in open spaces and trying to connect with wild animals.
Share some wisdom or your top photography tip.
It is better to think of making a photograph than to take one. This means you need to identify what you feel inside and imagine it as a photograph. It’s hard, but it is rewarding when it all comes together.