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The African Portfolio: Predators, Prey, Land and People

March 05, 2005 Sara Spendrup

A 10-day photographic workshop through the landscapes of Kenya.

Join two of Africa's leading photographers, as they guide you to the best locations, covering the landscapes, wildlife, and the culture of the Maasai people.

Dates: October 14th to 23rd, 2005 Cost: £2400, sharing, Single Person Supplement: Add £300 $4305 ,sharing, Single Person Supplement: Add $500

Course Description: This field workshop is built around two of the best photographers and two of the most spectacular locations in the whole of Africa: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The 10-day course has been specifically created to inspire photographers who want to create a personal African Portfolio of images.

This is an opportunity to photograph the big game, landscapes, and the culture of the Maasai people of Kenya. The professionals will guide you in the field, going out early each morning to explore and photograph specific animal behavior. Until mid-afternoon, you will be editing, sharing work, critiquing portfolios and discussing careers, technology and the photography business. Later each afternoon, the team returns to the field on foot or in vehicles for more photography and exploration. Due to weather, the movement of game and potential cultural events nearby, the daily schedule will adapt to photographer's personal interests. You can cover the plentiful wildlife during game drives, or, for example, profile a game warden or guide, visit traditional Maasai homes, or spend the day at a community school or local project. There is also an opportunity for a balloon flight at dawn over the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, arranged by request, not included, see below.

Our first location, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, is in Kenya's central region of Laikipia; there will be an introduction to Lewa on the first evening by the owner, Ian Craig. Our second location is a secluded, private tented camp in the Maasai Mara, and Mara expert Michael McCartney will give an introduction to the ecology and geography of the Mara itself on our first evening there.

Itinerary: Arrival on October 14th evening, overnight at Karen Blixen Coffee Garden in Nairobi

1st Week: October 15th to October 19th Professional Photographer: Duncan Willetts, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Duncan Willletts is a multi-faceted editorial photographer based in Kenya. He has worked on assignment all over Africa and Asia, and has unrivalled experience in the field across all genres of photography. Duncan will be the group's photographic guide for these first few days, sharing stories from his adventures, discussing technique and the photographic business, and provide critique of the fieldwork and portfolios.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is unique in Kenya; its 40,000-acres of wildlife conservation integrates successfully with the local communities in the area. Consequently, it is a fascinating and busy place, with many themes to explore photographically. The wild animals and birds are plentiful and easy to get close to for photography; there are several local community projects we have been allowed access to, eg. a mobile clinic, local schools etc. not normally available to guests, and the landscape and views - below Mt Kenya - are spectacular. We will have the beautiful Lewa House exclusively as our accommodation; there is a main house building with separate bandas of bedrooms and bathrooms each with private veranda. Relevant Lewa staff will join us at mealtimes to answer questions and for evening discussions.

October 19th late morning: Internal flight to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve

2nd Week: October 19th to October 23rd Professional Photographer: Richard du Toit, Private Tented Camp in the Maasai Mara

After an intensive 5 days in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, photographers will be able to put into practice all they have learned in the world-famous Maasai Mara and its phenomenal concentration of wildlife in the classic African landscape. Richard will begin by reviewing the fieldwork so far, go over equipment and help each participant to make best use of their time to complete their personal African Portfolio. Richard will present several of his African magazine stories, and discuss field ethics and his techniques for getting close to big game. There will be early dawn field trips to photograph wildlife and the landscape; progress discussion, critique and rest in the middle of the day; then late afternoon field work before sunset. For those interested in a dawn balloon flight, aerial photography will also be discussed. Accommodation is in comfortable, walk-in, insect-proof tents with towels, showers, etc. provided.

NB: Whilst we will do our utmost to arrange special access to specific interest requests, please note that Lewa is a working wildlife conservation ranch, and the Mara is a national game reserve, so we will be subject to the allowances of the management and game rangers at the time.

Who Should Attend: This workshop would work best for experienced photographers who want to develop a comprehensive, personal body of work of wildlife images, the African landscape, and/or the Maasai culture, within the genres of travel photography, documentary, landscape, portraiture, or all of the above. Participants must be comfortable with their equipment, working in the field, and adaptable to the ever-changing environment.

Camera Equipment: 35mm and/or large format cameras are welcome, as are digital cameras. At least 50 rolls of film are suggested for 35mm. Images for critiques can be projected, or viewed on a laptop. If you work in a digital format, bring your laptop with the appropriate software for cataloguing, plus charger, extra cards, and the necessary cables. Bring two camera bodies, long lenses and a sturdy tripod; also bring samples of your work, either in a small portfolio book, or on your laptop. E-6 slide film can be processed on a 24-36 hour turnaround at 'Spectrum', the best professional lab in Nairobi. Processing charges are additional, and reasonable.

Faculty Photographer Biographies: Duncan Willetts - 1st Week Duncan Willetts is one of Africa's leading photographers. Throughout his career, his work has at least covered the genres of advertising, breaking news, documentary, photojournalism, wildlife, still life, travel and editorial, for clients as varied as Coca Cola, Reuters, Newsweek, Glaxo, Financial Times, Associated Press, Dunlop and several international airlines. As a result, he continues to expand his contribution of over 2 million images to the Camerapix archive, which he manages. After running a photography studio in London, he went to Sudan for their Ministry of Information and Culture for 2 years, working across the country and setting up a processing lab and library. Moving to Kenya in 1977, he formed a 20 year partnership with photographer Mohamed Amin, covering stories on coups, civil wars, humanitarian issues, presidents, prime ministers and heads of state across Europe, Africa and Asia. He has photographed as diverse a range of people such as the Queen, Mohammed Ali, Margaret Thatcher, Idi Amin, King Hussein of Jordan, Helmut Kohl and the Pope. Duncan has produced and contributed to several documentaries and over 25 books on different countries, indigenous people, wildlife, and travel, and works closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. See his website:

Richard du Toit - 2nd Week In the 1995 BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, South African photographer Richard du Toit won first place in the Mammals Behavior category, and in 1997 won first place in the Animal Portraits category. In 2004, Richard was one of 4 judges for this prestigious international competition. Remarkably, he is entirely self-taught, and has been a professional photographer and author since 1995. After a degree in Zoology & Entomology, he has photographed wild animals, plants, landscapes, indigenous people and travel, all over Southern and East Africa, as well as many hours of aerial photography over these regions. Richard's images are used internationally in natural history books, magazines, advertising and corporate work, and he regularly contributes features to magazines such as Africa Geographic. His books include: Essential Wildlife Photography; African Wildlife Themes; Creatures of Habit and Catching the Moment. He is the principal photographer for the new National Geographic book Safari: The Romance and the Reality, and is one of the featured photographers in the book The World's Top Photographers: Wildlife. See his images on:


Included: Full board accommodation throughout, all transfers and internal flights within Kenya, conservation and park fees, AMREF insurance (flying doctor insurance), all guide and guest speaker fees, use of 4WD safari-outfitted vehicles and drivers, all instruction and tuition.

Not included: International flights, relevant travel insurance, visas, immunizations and malaria prevention, film processing, meals as required the first night on arrival and the last day before departure, special events available for photography at the time, tips to staff, balloon flights in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, personal purchases.


For more info contact Diana Maclean - UK Contact Details: Mobile: 07946 650 528 Email: