This is the shot – my cigar shot of 2020.
This photograph may have taken just 1/500th of a second to capture, but it was many years in the making as the pivotal factor to the execution was trust and trust does not come overnight. I trust the guide and ranger who were with me and they trust me. More importantly, however, Craig, the world’s most celebrated big tusker, trusts me and I, in turn, trust him. This trust triangle allowed me to work on the ground no more than seven feet from Craig who was advancing towards me. Three years ago, or indeed, even a year ago, I could never imagine using a 35mm lens to take a portrait of such a giant of an animal – more mammoth then elephant.
During Covid 2020, I have spent about 10 days with Craig and that has certainly helped to build a mutual understanding of each other’s behaviour. I see this image as the end validation of an investment of time, not just in Craig, but also the good people of the Kenyan Wildlife Service. I want to thank Daniel Kipkosgei, the Senior Park Warden at Amboseli, for his support and encouragement throughout the summer.
Of course, there is a huge amount of fortune involved, most notably the clear sky allowing Kilimanjaro to add a layer of narrative and also the fact that we found Craig that day in open ground. I would estimate odds of that double to be around 10/1. I guess I still had to do my bit and I probably held my nerve for longer than I expected as the elephant advanced. This was, however, a team effort and everyone played their role – Craig most of all.
Time for a cigar.