So, here’s the question: Why would a commercial photographer, with over forty years of experience, visit Londolozi without his or her cameras to record the adventure?
I first visited South Africa in 1998. It was an amazing experience, and as a result, I decided to visit Londolozi for the first time the following year based on a recommendation from a good friend who had been there on several occasions. On each of those trips, I documented the experiences with the usual array of pro camera bodies and fast, long lenses. I ended up creating images that I was very pleased with.
I decided to return to Londolozi this year to once again experience the magic. After some thought, it occurred to me that on my previous trips I only witnessed the experiences through the back of my cameras. I was so interested in making great photos that I actually missed seeing some incredible scenes. If the light or angle wasn’t quite good enough, I would ignore the scene and continue the hunt for the next perfect image. Although I made a lot of good images, I missed a huge part of the experience that was available to me. Something had to change.
On this most recent trip, I decided that I needed to experience a deeper connection to what I was seeing. I wanted to not only see, but to hear, smell and touch as well (and I certainly didn’t want to lug around and manage 25kg of camera gear).
After a lot of thought and consideration, I decided that a radically different approach was in order. As a result, I decided that I would only need a good pair of binoculars and a solid smart phone to record the adventure. The binoculars went around my neck and the phone went into my pocket. In no time at all, of my senses came alive and I was able to acutely participate in the experiences in a remarkably clear, simple and rewarding way. I also captured some images that I’m pleased with. A win-win!
Did I miss some really great photo opportunities by not using my “real gear”? Perhaps. But what I gained was immeasurable in terms of truly connecting with the environment that my wife and I traversed through during our recent stay.
In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really not about the equipment. It’s about participating in the experience in a deep, profound and personal way (did it really matter what kind of typewriter Ernst Hemingway used?).
All of these photos were shot on an Apple 8 Plus iPhone that weighs 202 grams. (7.13 ounces.) They were edited in Snapseed.