Sometimes in photography, as in life, it is easy to overlook what’s closest to home, but given a chance it often brings the greatest rewards!
I have a lovely client who is disabled with Parkinson's. At 75 years old, and after 45 years of African travel, Jackie can no longer manage long haul journeys, so thought her days of wildlife safari were over.
However, I suggested she let me design a series of personally escorted UK safaris that would be accessible for her, and prove that our homegrown wildlife is every bit as fascinating, beautiful and photogenic as anywhere in the world!
After successes in the Highlands, Islands and SW of Scotland, Jackie requested Northern England this time round: and what a fantastic decision it proved to be! Here are some photographic highlights of our week: These images are particularly special for me as they can all be taken by someone with very limited mobility, and they represent my client not just being able to continue her safari adventures at 75 years old, but finding her own UK wildlife as exciting as that of Africa - both well worth celebrating!
Day 1: Ospreys diving for fish is one of the most exhilarating challenges in wildlife photography and we were fortunate to have three birds in one morning.
Day 2: Even quicker than the ospreys, kingfisher is always a phenomenal bird to photograph
Day 3: Heading to the coast we found gannets gliding over golden seas
Day 4: Dainty fallow deer are always a treat to photograph
Day 5: I confess we cheated a bit today, and when there was no sign of our native otter species we popped into Washington WWT sanctuary to see the Vietnamese Short Clawed family in the breeding programme. We were also treated to an avocet fly-by to bring us back to a UK focus!
Day 6: As we continued north a real treat awaited: a boat trip out to the Farne Islands, where gazillions of seabirds gather to breed, amongst them 4 species of tern, razorbill, guillemot, shag and everyone's favourite 'sea parrot' the puffin!
Day 7: To end our week Jackie joined my Raptors: Fast Action & Creative Portraiture workshop in Northumberland. I work with non-wild birds on these days to teach both static and in flight photographic techniques. Long eared owl in bluebell woods (see header) and buzzard flying over dazzling fields of rapeseed were seasonally perfect to round off our northern safari!
If you would like to know more about my personal, tailor-made safaris in the U.K. and around the world please visit: https://www.enlightenedmedia.net/tailor-made-photography-safaris
As Jackie inspired these accessible safaris, it's fitting you hear firsthand what a difference they've made for her.
FEEDBACK ON MY WLDLIFE ODESSEY TO NE ENGLAND
'I am a lover of Africa, its people and it wildlife and celebrate that through the medium of photography. For over forty years my husband and I visited the continent at every opportunity. Then I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition which affected , amongst other things, my ability to walk any distance and carry heavy weights. This caused me to make a decision to draw a line under my Africa experiences. The additional responsibilities laid on those responsible for me were too great in my opinion.
I met Trai Anfield on my last trip to Africa and she was not daunted by my condition. She suggested that a wildlife safari in the UK was a possibility and she offered to research and set up a personalised tour that looked at UK wildlife but was tailored to my condition. As a result in 2018 we embarked on a wildlife safari to Scotland, which was so successful that we planned another similar trip for 2019 along the coastal strip pf NE England. It was equally as good and probably covered even more than our Scottish trip thanks to Trai’s careful planning and concern for my capabilities.
I can only speak positively of:
Trai's sensitivity to my physical condition, reflected in her personal chauffeuring between venues, her ability to carry numerous heavy bags - leaving me to carry only the sandwiches - and her clever choice of hides and other wildlife venues which required little walking.
Her choice of wildlife destinations which were of the highest quality enabling great photographic opportunities.
Her extensive photographic skills and experience which she willingly attempted to pass on to me. Information was alwaysconveyed in simple, understandable language and repeated as often as needed. No question was too silly. She was extremely patient!!
Her willingness to be flexible in the delivery of the itinerary.
Her choice of overnight stays which were varied, attractive and sometimes unusual
Her pleasant company and easy personality
To summarise: the holiday was constructed with great care, in consultation with me, addressing my needs such as my interests and level of skill and my physical capabilities. Disability was not a barrier to continuing my photographic safaris where an empathetic approach was taken to planning, it just required a change to the formula and the help of a friendly Guide. This wildlife safari was of high quality and delivered in a flexible way. Whilst I still miss Africa this experience demonstrates what interesting and varied wildlife we have in the UK and with a little effort and advice how any of us can find it and enjoy it. Thank you Trai."