Story by Londolozi Repeat Guest Cheryl Grace:
In 2010, South Africa Calls was a mantra streaming steadily into my consciousness, driving an inner yearning for me to pay a call to nature’s gift to humanity. My innate love for wildlife and the enchanting African Bush combined with Londolozi’s safe haven where all nature is in rhythm and in harmony was an ideal match for me.
I purchased my first mirrorless camera – a Sony a6000 with a 50mm lens – and it arrived a week before my departure from the USA. With no photography experience, I began my journey into the wisdom of the wild.
Five nights and 10 game dives later, I had deeply bonded with Londolozi’s mission to advance world consciousness and its need to conserve and protect. Spending time with these sentient animals taught me how to know and love them, to be able to photograph them accurately.
While at Londolozi I realised I had never before been in a situation where every moment was amazing. I immediately booked my return for the following year.
Then in 2016, months before my departure for yet another Londolozi trip, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. I immediately went into aggressive chemo and radiation treatment. My oncologist said that to conquer cancer I needed to have a goal. I told him it was Londolozi. “You can’t go”, he said!
One month after my final treatment, I was back at Londolozi, my happy place, cancer-free!
I have to admit my first photography experience seemed easy. I decided not to take any chances and purchased a Sony E 55-210mm lens. I instinctively knew it was rare to get excellent natural lighting combined with strong composition or to have wildlife do something unexpected for a photogenic opportunity.. The longer lens helped me achieve patience to advance the narrative.
I returned to Londolozi in 2017 and 2018 with a second a6300camera body combined with a Sony FE 100-400mm lens. I understood that having zero control over the wildlife subject made it difficult to predict the final image. Extreme close-up photography became my passion to further achieve an emotional connection. A flawless image can draw any viewer into the animal’s world.
As I arrive for my fifth consecutive visit to Londolozi, I come with a broken arm/shoulder in a harness/sling. My orthopedic surgeon said I couldn’t go, yet here I am. I had to scrap all my professional photography equipment and opt for a Sony RX100 VI compact 200mm camera so I can shoot with one hand. This year my focus is to hear, heed and heal. These challenges are blessings in disguise for the good of our human world.
I am completely content being in the African bush, seeing a herd of elephants with their young or a leopard napping in a tree.
Londolozi… I am home.