One of the highlights of my latest stint as Photographer In Residence at Alex Walker’s safari camps in Kenya has been getting to know the drivers of our game drive vehicles better. These modest, unassuming guys (they are currently all men but that’s about to change!) are often overlooked when we heap plaudits on our guides for finding wildlife sightings. But in my eyes these gallant drivers are nothing short of photography heroes.
I feel immensely privileged to be training these guys in what photographers require out in the field. When we’re finished in my classroom workshop I’m able to go out with these guys on my own, and without the distraction of other people in the vehicle it’s made me appreciate even more the incredible amounts of skill and energy it takes to wrestle the giant land cruisers into the very best position for us photographers. Multitasking is no problem for the drivers: they can spot leopards at a kilometer away with one eye on potholes in the track, while I’m left blinking and saying “where exactly?” Changing a tyre like an F1 pit crew is a daily occurrence for drivers here, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen more than one bravely mount a rescue mission when other camps’ cars have broken down right beside a pride of hungry lions. And of course these drivers need the patience of saints as photographers request endlessly “back a metre please…er, left a bit… oh no it’s moved – let’s go all the way round the bush to get the face again!”
So Asante Sana! – thank you! – Bajila, Kimanzi, Yamboi, Morendat and all the other drivers at Serian – you are as much a part of our photography family as your fellow guides and us photographers – we literally wouldn’t get anywhere without you!