People often have an image in mind when they picture a certain place. When planning a holiday to a destination you have never been to, you look at all the best pictures of that place and start dreaming about seeing those scenes with your own eyes and maybe even getting a similar picture of your own. There are plenty of iconic photographs from breathtaking locations all over the world that people try and recreate. Off the top of my head I can think of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning across the Golden Gate Strait in the USA, lemurs jumping around the jungle canopies in Madagascar, Uluru at sunset in the Australian outback, brown bears catching salmon in Alaska and a view of the Sacred Valley from Machu Picchu in Peru as places I would love to visit and photographs I would like to take.
However, having said all of that, there are still a lot of photos that I would like to take that involve far less traveling and money but just a lot more patience as well as a spoonful of luck. Just like a lot of guests who travel from around the world to Africa I also have a list of iconic safari images that I would like to take and recently I was able to capture the most quintessential African photo of all, the silhouette of a giraffe directly in front of the setting sun.
A few days ago Sean Cresswell wrote about his journey to a photo that he had imagined in his head and how he had finally managed to capture it. My journey was somewhat different. This was not an image that I had dreamt up in my head, it was an image that I had seen numerous times in different variations. Some would even go so far as calling it cliché. Naturally, I would strongly disagree. If you do a Google image search and you type in “Africa Sunset Giraffe” you will be met with page after page of photos that include a combination of all three. The only problem is none of those are mine. Up until a few weeks back I had not managed to capture one of the most iconic images of Africa and it frustrated me.
A definition of the word ‘cliché’ is that it “is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing it’s original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.”
Unless you have a phobia of Africa, giraffes or sunsets it is impossible to find the combination of all three “irritating!” I would accept that the combination may have been “overused” in photography, but to the point of it losing it’s original effect? Definitely not! Capturing a photo of a scene that has been captured by millions of photographers before you is not a negative when that scene is simply magical.
It’s not over now though. There will be more opportunities like this one and each time I’ll have my camera out trying to get a different combination of Africa, giraffe and sunset. I wouldn’t mind adding in the silhouette of a flat-crowned acacia tree to the mix as well! There are many more iconic safari images that I am still searching for. An African fish-eagle with talons outstretched about to grip an unsuspecting fish from the water, a cheetah at full sprint chasing after its prey, a male lion crossing the Sand River and an elephant at night silhouetted by a full moon are but a few…
What’s the one iconic picture that you would like to get for yourself? I’d love to know…