Kilimanjaro is the world’s most recognisable 19,000-foot mountain. The mere mention of its name elicits emotions far stronger than other mountains outside the Himalayas. Much of the reason for this must be attributable to the incongruous beauty of the settled snow on its summit, which sits so near to the equator. Also the mountain itself has an alluring symmetry and is so safely climbable that many amateur British adventurers have its conquering high within their “bucket shop”. Kilimanjaro is the most stable feature of an unstable African continent and it has become a metaphorical suggestion of power, size and magnificence.
For photographers, the problem is that it is a very difficult mountain to capture in a way that does its splendour justice. There is regular cloud cover over the summit and even when there is not, it is rare to find immediate foreground context from which to understand the scale and the enormity of the mountain.
Intuitively, the elephants of Amboseli offer the best chance to bring contextual narrative and soul into a photographic portrayal of the mountain. But this is a demanding brief -the Park is not a zoo and its 1,200 elephants are not aware of the romantic allure of a snow-capped Kilimanjaro. They will only be role players in a landscape shot by accident.
This image has a great deal of information within it – as it should. Hopefully it strikes a chord with those who have developed a personal attachment with Africa’s greatest geological feature.