How to best capture your own safari stories
I’m a new photographer but an old safari soul. Definitely an amateur in capturing images through my lens, but I have a lifetime of experiences and moments in my heart and in my head. I live in stories. Stories created in moments made today and stories as old as time. Our home is filled with numerous African art pieces that each have their own stories to tell. Memories of their makers and a little insight into their lives at the time, stories of the people I’ve met and moments that I’ll treasure for a lifetime.
Relationship is one of my core values and it’s also one of the foundations that Dan and I have built our company on. A real connection with you, our guest, that allows us to design the perfect safari to suit your personality. A relationship that most often leads to wonderful friendships. Relationships with the suppliers, guides, camp staff and village chiefs that form part of your adventures in Africa. For me, every photograph is a story that begs telling and one that I want to share with the world. I’ve discovered my passion for capturing the souls of village children – few things bring as much joy as a great shot of unscripted belly-laughter or the hysterical giggle of a bunch of 5yr old’s! Sometimes it’s the shy and uncertain glances that captivate me or the evident pain and disillusionment that comes from a life lived with too little hope. The breath-taking, heart-breaking pain from a life of poverty and hunger.
Getting the most out of an authentic cultural experience
So, how to navigate your way through an African village with sensitivity? Follow my steps for a heart-warming and mutually beneficial experience and hopefully you’ll return with a pocket full of stories (and photos) of your own.
Learn the Lingo
No matter which country you travel to, learning to say ‘hello, how are you?”, “please” and “thank you” are valuable phrases that everyone appreciates hearing in their own mother tongue. Ask the lodge staff to teach you and write them down on a note you keep in your pocket.
Engage and get Involved!
You may see things that distress you or move you to tears. That’s understandable, village life is tough. Don’t be shy to ask questions or help, as integration is so much more rewarding than observation. Pump water by hand and try carrying that bucket on your head! Try your hand at milking a cow or play a round of soccer with the kids, if you don’t know how, they’d love to teach you!
Ask your guide about the local etiquette and cultural specifics. Africa is full of fascinating traditions and your interest will be deeply appreciated by locals.
Ask before Taking Photos
Kids will beg you to have their photo taken and will often collapse in a fit of giggles at seeing their own image for the first time! If you’d like to take pictures of people, be sure to ask permission first and then show them the picture, it encourages interaction. Payment for photos is not expected in Southern African countries like Zimbabwe or Zambia but is an unfortunate side effect of mass tourism in parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
A Hand-Up, not a Hand-Out
Please don’t give anything to anyone. Hand-outs encourage begging and reinforces a culture of dependency. Ask us how you can help or get involved with current projects to uplift local communities
Buy Locally – and at a Fair Price!
Many Africans are excellent craftsmen and women and sell their wares in villages. Take a bunch of US dollars in cash with you, your contribution makes a very real difference to their welfare and wellbeing. Bartering is okay but be fair and be generous.
Now go ahead and shoot the colours of village life! Look around at those kids that are not singing and dancing around your feet, there are precious moments to capture everywhere. I’ve been in hundreds of villages over the years and few of them don’t move me to tears, leaving me wanting to be a better person and make more of a difference in the world.
Remember that your safari makes a real difference to the lives of the communities living in close proximity to Africa’s wildlife. I’d love to share my passion of Africa with you and to have you join one of my small group safaris, please get hold of me here.
Thank you for choosing us to make your safari dreams a reality – as for each safari we sell, one child will go to school for a full year!
Warmest regards, Antoinette