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Wildlife photography: birthday safari in the Masai Mara

Wildlife photography from a safari at the Little Governor's Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya.

Wildlife photography from a safari at the Little Governor’s Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya.

I think it’s fair to say I’m not usually known as a wildlife photographer. It is something I enjoy dabbling in, however (especially if it means playing with fun toys like all the Nikon exotic tele-lenses!). So it was a great surprise when my (amazing) fiancée told me that her birthday gift for my 31st, last fall, was a two days trip to a luxury lodge deep in the Masai Mara. We flew there a few hours after returning from a gruelling weeklong stay in the Kakuma refugee camp, at the South Sudan and Uganda border, and the contrast couldn’t have been greater.

I’m no Nick Brandt, but here are some of my favourite shots from those extraordinary two days!

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Best of 2016

Now that 2017 is upon us, one of my resolutions is to update this blog a bit more often… This year has been as busy as ever, and I’ll confess to having let updating the blog fall by the wayside, as Facebook and especially Instagram took over some of my daily updates. Still, there is a tradition I wouldn’t want to break, taking a bit of time to pause and reflect on the year elapsed, and make a selection of my most meaningful images (out of 87,000 shot this year!). You will find past editions there: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

 

Landscape view of Cerro Torre and the Fitzroy Range with extremely high winds, El Chaltén, Patagonia, Argentina.

Landscape view of Cerro Torre and the Fitzroy Range with extremely high winds, El Chaltén, Patagonia, Argentina.

My year started with a long trip to Patagonia, combining some climbing attempts in El Chaltén with sailing around Cape Horn and in the Beagle Channel. Unfortunately, the infamous Patagonian weather grounded us in town for weeks at a time… This image of all the main peaks of the range gives an idea of how wild things can get!

 

Jean-Baptiste Desmoulière reaches Paso Superior, the gateway to Cerro Fitrzoy, Patagonia, Argentina.

Jean-Baptiste Desmoulière reaches Paso Superior, the gateway to Cerro Fitrzoy, Patagonia, Argentina.

One of our attempts on Fitzroy didn’t get very far as the glacier and bergshrunds were too open to allow passage this late in the season. Still, the climb to the bivy site at Paso Superior was incredibly spectacular!

 

Reflections of Cerro Fitzroy in Jean-Baptiste Desmoulière's sunglasses, Patagonia, Argentina.

Reflections of Cerro Fitzroy in Jean-Baptiste Desmoulière’s sunglasses, Patagonia, Argentina.

We couldn’t help but dream of mountains, even if we didn’t get to stand on their summits!

 

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The dinghy from Selma in front of a wall of ice, part of the massive Pia West glacier flowing from the Darwin range into the Beagle Channel, Patagonia, Chile.

Part of the sailing trip, this shot of the dinghy in front of the Pia glacier gives a small idea of the unbelievable scale of the place.

 

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The expedition yacht Selma battered by high winds and heavy swell in the Beagle Channel, Patagonia, Chile.

Our beautiful boat, Selma Expeditions, takes on some weather. Rounding Cape Horn was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to do more sailing work. I shot this particular image during a rough couple of hours, I remember standing on the bow slamming on the waves, getting soaked through and having the time of my life!

 

Flavia Saraiva (Brazil) looks relaxed on her routine of the beam's finals, where she eventually placed fifth.

Flavia Saraiva (Brazil) looks relaxed on her routine of the beam’s individual finals, where she eventually placed fifth, during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Another huge adventure in 2016, and a departure from my usual subject matter, was shooting the Rio Olympics. I had a full accreditation and so access to (almost) all the events. I ended up shooting 46,000 images, but this one particularly resonates, showing dedication and extreme focus during what may be the most important two minutes of her life.

 

Kevin Mayer (France) celebrates his unexpected silver medal and new French national record in the men decathlon.

Kevin Mayer (France) celebrates his unexpected silver medal and new French national record in the men decathlon during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Though I shot a lot (a lot!) of action images during the Olympics, the images that really meant the most to me were the ones showing the emotions of the athletes. Here, Kevin Mayer having achieved an incredible feat in the decathlon, quietly celebrates.

 

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The mother of Paulo Amotun, who ran the 1500m in the Rio Olympics, here in their family home in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

An even larger departure from my usual subject matter, I spent a while in refugee camps in Kenya this year, working on a long term documentary project with my fiancée, covering the story of the Refugee Olympic Team. This portrait is of Paulo Amotun’s mother, and seeing first hand where he grew up before getting an opportunity to compete on the world stage was so humbling!

 

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Little girls run near a water distribution point in the Nuer community of Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

Of the many images shot in refugee camps, this one stands out for the joy and candidness of these little girls. It was shot right next to the household of James and Pur, two Olympic athletes and South Sudanese refugees.

 

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Alan Porthault trail runs in early morning light in the Belledonne range.

Of course, I still spent most of the year shooting mountain adventures, in particular for long time client Montane. This was on the first day of a long climbing, trekking and trail running shoot in the south of France, and as we hit the trail, dawn light illuminated the morning fog at just the right angle for perfect light conditions, which only lasted for a few magic minutes.

 

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Elsie Lemordant and Vivian Bruchez ski tour near Col des Marbrées, Chamonix.

I love how despite having shot the same sports in the same locations for quite a few years now, it’s different every time. Here, passing clouds created great light, and I shot from below the Col des Marbrées to create this very graphic image of Vivian Bruchez and Elsie Lemordant, on a Mountain Hardwear photoshoot.

 

Climbing in the Policromuro crag above Massone, during the Arco Rock Star photo competition. Featuring Cristina Santini and Nicolo and Enrico Geremia.

Enrico Geremia celebrates an evening send in the Policromuro crag of Arco, Italy.

Finally, it’s always a pleasure to shoot rock climbing, my first love in the world of adventure sports. And there are few places better for it than Arco, in Italy, with its great relaxed atmosphere, sweeping limestone faces and easy-access crags. Shooting for the Arco Rock Star photo competition (where I placed second), we tried to do something a bit different and shot in the evening and night.

 

Can’t wait to see what is in store for 2017!

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