It all started with a voice note. Two months into 2020 and I was thinking about what I wanted to do most this year. Africa was a place I have always wanted to visit but until this point, our photography had been taking us to the sensitive regions of the arctic. I decided this year I would make Africa happen and started planning a trip for my birthday in October. I decided to message Donal Boyd on Instagram. I figured a good place to start my research was to seek insight from someone who has a wealth of experience in Africa.
Donal was actually preparing for a workshop he was hosting in Namibia just three weeks away and he invited us to join him. Three weeks was not a lot of time for us to prepare and we had read online that dry season was the most ideal time to visit Africa. We had a few days of back and forth with Donal. He told us that because of all the greenery and plants that flourish during rainy season, this was his favourite season to photograph wildlife in Namibia. We decided to be spontaneous and join his workshop. We flew from Vancouver to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Namibia on March 4.
At that time Corona Virus was just starting to creep into Italy and Canada hadn't experienced any of the scare or hysteria yet. There were no confirmed cases in the whole country that were publicly known and we couldn’t have imaged at that point in time that it would impact our trip let alone the entire world on such a huge scale.
The workshop was held at Erindi Private Game Reserve. While the whole world was being immersed in chaos from the spread of the virus, our group of photographers were oblivious in the middle of the African bush. Our days started before sunrise and ended well after sunset. We would be out in the bush in our Land Rover searching for wildlife and that was our life for the week. Very little exposure to the internet, the news or anyone from back home. We would see cheetahs, prides of lions with young cubs and elusive leopards. Giraffe, zebra, elephants, wildebeest and impala all with young. The workshop was called “New Life” and we were consumed with excitement and felt a beautiful sense of harmony and optimism witnessing so many animals thriving in the lush surroundings that commonly are devastated by extreme drought.
After the workshop was complete, we drove back to the main city of Windhoek to start our next lag of the trip to the desert in Sousslvei. As we arrived at our guest house, we were shocked to find out that virtually every country was being affected by the virus now. Travellers were being called back home by their governments and people were panicking. The radio was filled with virus updates, “ways to protect yourself” and frantic people calling in wondering what to do. We felt completely polarizing emotions from just a few hours earlier when we were back at Erindi watching a heard of elephants play in the grass.
We reconnected to the internet and had heaps of messages from friends and family worried about us, urging us to take the next flight home. When we looked into the flight possibilities we found out that we couldn't fly out of Namibia because their flight route to Canada was through Frankfurt and they were banning all flights to and from Germany. We decided to stay at a guest house in the city for a night and get caught up on all the news before we made any decisions. We had previously intended to go to the desert for five days but we were fearful of being disconnect and out of the loop yet again if things got worse. We found a new route home before we went to bed that night. We could fly from Namibia to South Africa, South Africa to South America or Europe, and then home to Canada. We felt some comfort knowing that we had a few options.
The next morning the South African government imposed a travel restriction to enter the country. No one who had been to Germany within the last fourteen days was allowed to enter South Africa. We lost our only way home. We called Donal, who was still at Erindi awaiting some guests for another workshop he was hosting. We found out that he had to cancel the workshop because the guests couldn’t make it to Namibia due to all the travel restrictions. Donal also couldn't travel home either because of the same restrictions. It was suddenly clear that the three of us were stuck here for an unknown amount of time.
We were invited back to Erindi so we could have time to reconvene and see what would unfold. Namibia at that time had only two cases of corona virus. Both of which were from travellers that had been isolated, recovered and returned home. Both of our home countries were getting worse by the day, so we were at least relieved to be away from it all. We found out that at the very minimum we would be stuck in Namibia for thirty days so we had to get our visas amended.
So what do three photographers do for 30 days in the middle of the African bush? Well let’s face it, for us it is not the worst place to be stuck. We got creative and decided while everything is shut down and we are the only “guests” at Erindi, we have to do something epic. It was the perfect opportunity to create an opportunity. We decided to create the ultimate infield wildlife photography course. The core essence of the course is practical examples. Whether that is on foot with a cheetah or on the Land Rover meters away from a pride of lions, we are going to walk you through our process of capturing the perfect photo.
This photography course will be the first and only of its kind as we have full access with a vehicle, a guide (Steven) and endless wildlife including new born cheetah cubs, wild dog puppies and the entire array of African wildlife. This course is suitable for anyone interested in wildlife photography, from beginner to expert. Learning the theory of photography through our application of techniques in the field will propel you as a photographer and enable you to capture powerful images on your next wildlife safari trip.
The course will include all preparation, gear, post processing and editing. You’ll learn about the animals, conservation and the thought process behind the images we capture.
Click here to sign up to be notified when the pre-order is available
A huge thank you to Erindi Private Game Reserve for welcoming us with open arms and giving us this opportunity to create something truly unique.
When you’re stuck at home during these uncertain times and feel like you have nothing to do, why not consider learning a new skill?
Jenni, Chase and Donal
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