Pastiche of Peter Beard

beard giraffesBefore my first safari I watched movies like Out of Africa and I read books like I Married Adventure, but it was PETER BEARD’S books, interviews and photographs that captured my imagination. My intention was always to understand Africa as it exists, not in my romanticized Hollywood version.

For the past 30 years Peter has been described as the ultimate wildlife photographer and his intense interpretations of Kenyan wildlife are chronicled vividly in collages, diaries and photographs known the world over.

beard giraffe nightI’m not a photographer of Peter’s genius, nor did I capture fully the disturbing rawness that exist in the wild, but because of Mr. Beard, I opened my eyes to the realities of an exquisite land not completely trampled by human consumption yet. I took hundreds of photos respecting that I was just a visitor being welcomed kindly by the Big 5. And outside of being charged unsuccessfully by a rhino and an elephant that left us floating on adrenaline, going on a safari was the most majestic experience of my life and I can’t wait to go back.

One of my favorite series of photographs was with this giraffe. I named her LUCILLE.

L1000091nWe were enjoying a sundowner (cocktails in the bush) when I heard the leaves rustling behind me. Now, on safari you are instructed to be hyper-aware of your surroundings at all times, so of course I swung around defensively to see what was approaching and to my surprise LUCILLE was standing just a few feet away eating her dinner.

L1000092nOn this particular night drive I didn’t have my telephoto lens with me, so I photographed LUCILLE as best I could while trying to be as quiet as I could because giraffes are notoriously skittish and I did not want her to run away.

L1000095nIn this photo I am talking to LUCILLE very softly trying to coax her from behind the tree. I want a photo of her face. As you can see, she’s ignoring me.

L1000096nFinally, Lucille backed up. I backed up too, just in case, but not too worried because our Ranger was a few feet away with a shotgun, the reality of being in the wild. Then as if on cue, LUCILLE struck the perfect beauty pageant pose (one foot in front of the other, waist slightly turned, chin down) and flapped her gorgeous eyelashes and I got my shot.  Ain’t life grand?

Photos © Peter Beard and Zavvi Rodaine

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