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Behind Jack’s Lens

Just eight years old, young guest Jack took to photography like a duck to water. His first trip to Africa will always be remembered through these photographs
Above: A candid of the young photographer in action

I’ve often said that the Maasai Mara brings out the child in all of us. Going on exciting adventures, ticking off animals, stopping for picnics in the wild — this is pure fun for all of us, but seeing it from a child’s perspective makes it even sweeter. This is what I was lucky enough to witness when Jack came to stay.

A bright-eyed, eight-year-old from San Francisco, bursting with energy, Jack loves nature and animals and he came to the right place, of course. He and his mom wandered into The Angama Photographic Studio on their first day and asked me to come with them on a game drive. As always, I had my trusty camera with me and I brought our beginners' camera kit for Jack to use as well, just in case he showed any interest. 

One of Jack's first snaps: a young family in procession below Angama
A stately waterbuck shows off its horns
The elusive black rhino, one of Jack's favourites

“Showed any interest” — ha! This was the first time he had ever used a camera but within minutes he was learning how to operate the buttons and functions. He quickly understood how to use the shutter and autofocus, thrilled with all his new discoveries. Every few moments he would show me, his mom, or guide Johnnie the photo that he had captured. Jack ended up using the camera most of the days he was with us, capturing some wonderful images. 

When I joined Jack and his mom on another drive, we spoke about how, before he came to Africa, Jack had only seen these animals in books. It meant so much to him to be able to see them in person and take his own pictures of them. His family and friends at home are going to have a fantastic time looking through his album and hearing him share the stories of his great African safari.

A future as a photographer or a safari guide... perhaps both?
A great capture of Risasi and her cubs
Another of Jack's favourites (make that three)
Jack with Johnnie, his guide-turned-great friend

His mind was like a sponge, soaking up information about both photography and wildlife. Constantly asking questions about what he saw around him, he was fascinated to learn that the tongue of a lion is like sandpaper and the main difference between leopards and cheetahs. He shot a bow and arrow with a real Maasai warrior and learnt about their culture. He even managed to learn some Swahili words from his guide Johnnie — most popularly 'karibu' which means 'welcome' in Swahili (he said he remembers it because it reminds him of the caribou animal found in North America).

Jack flexing his newly acquired quick shutter-speed skills
No subject left behind: the tiny grasshopper...
... the common black-headed heron

The child-like wonder that Jack exuded all week was a joy to be around. There was nothing too big nor too small that wouldn't capture his attention. From the mighty Mara River that he saw from above on his first hot-air balloon ride to the smallest grasshopper seen while walking to his tent, Jack's keen eye (and camera) took it all in.

Jack even got into still lifes
And a command of perspectives: up high...
...and down low

Jack mentioned several times how much he enjoyed being with his mom on this trip and sharing this experience with her. The Mara put on a show for him and he couldn’t stop smiling — according to him, his first trip to Africa was an 'experience of a lifetime'.

Notes from the Editor

Thank you, Jack, for sharing your joy and curiosity with everyone at the lodge and those around the world reading this. Jack took all of the animal and landscape photographs in this blog and edited them with the help of Andrew, his new friend in the Photographic Studio.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Children on Safari , Family Safari , Photographic Safari

About: Andrew Andrawes

Born and raised in Nairobi to Egyptian parents, Andrew spent 15 years in the United States before returning to Kenya and joining Angama. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and African Studies from the University of Virginia and an MFA in photography from San Jose State University —where he has also worked, along with various other studios and camera shops. Ask him about his leg tattoo.

Browse all articles by Andrew Andrawes Meet the angama team

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