All Hail Our Drivers!

One of the highlights of my latest stint as Photographer In Residence at Alex Walker's Kenya safari camps 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.

Training session with Serian guides and drivers on what photographers specifically require.

Image by Ainslie Wilson - thanks!

I feel immensely privileged to be training these guys in what photographers require out in the field. When we’re finished in my classroom workshops I’m often able to go out with the drivers 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 these drivers either: they can spot leopards at a kilometre 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!”

It is a team effort to spot, position for, understand, anticipate and photograph animals in action, and it takes great communication and skills from everyone - drivers, guides and photographers - to get in the right place at the right time.

So Asante Sana! - thank you! - to Bogela, Komanzi, Yamboi, Morundat and all the other drivers at Serian - you are as much a part of our photography family as your fellow guides and photographers - we literally wouldn’t get anywhere without you!

Happy days with one of my Serian 'photography families' - driver Komanzi, photo buddy Carla & guide Gladys

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