There is always something phenomenal to experience when one goes out to nature when you discover, learn and enjoy. This particular weekend I visited Nairobi National Park with a couple of creatives who believe in telling stories through images. The event was dubbed Photography in the Wild and we were here to tell the story of why we should conserve our wildlife.

There are few places left on the planet where the impact of people has not been felt. We have explored and left our footprint on nearly every corner of the globe. As our population and needs grow, we are leaving less and less room for wildlife. Wildlife is under threat from many different kinds of human activities; directly from the destruction of habitats to the spreading invasive species and diseases. Most ecosystems are facing multiple threats. Each new threat adds on already weakened ecosystems and their wildlife. This pushes us to protecting wildlife in whichever way we can.

I look forward to taking pictures that will create emotion on how best we can protect our wildlife.

Oliver Twist Photography.

#PhotographyInTheWild was such a refreshing event to participate in. So many times and rightfully so, the conversation about conservation does not ignite much excitement among the people that matter the most in this country, the youth. This is a problem we need to tackle in this country. It is a problem that has allowed so many animals to get slaughtered across the whole continent and left some species numbers at scaringly low numbers. There are just not enough people caring about this problem.

But every now and then, I get a great dose of hope when I see people come together and find exciting ways to change what we need to change in this country. At Turnup.Travel, that is our mantra. Channeling our energies towards novel ways of not only marketing our beauty as a country and as a people, but also finding super fun interesting ways of doing it. Versatile Photographers got it absolutely right the first time. And if this event was anything to go by, there is a bright future after all for all our national parks and reserves. Wrangling up 37 professional and amateur photographers and nature-lovers to spend their whole Sunday at a National Park and all within 2 weeks is not an easy thing to achieve. Nairobi National Park deserves way more credit than Nairobians give it. There are people out there fighting for our parks and they are doing amazing work. But we as the millennial generation need to be at the forefront of every battle towards being a more prosperous country. On every front. Conservation is one of these battles. Versatile Photographers has provided an excellent way to do this and we at Turnup.Travel are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this journey. We are very much looking forward to the next National Park or reserve that we take over and create more magic. And what’s a great cause without great food, tasty choma, flowing beers, superb company and even a dazzling gift-giving ceremony at the end of the festivities. Simply brilliant”

Kudos David & Team

Brian Gatimu – Co-founder

Turnup.Travel Global Ltd

Photographers Paradise.

In typical Kenyan Style, I made the call on Saturday night…after excusing myself for the late call, I enquired if I could still book a seat for the event for what I thought would be a great trip to NNP (Nairobi National Park).

I got dropped off at the park’s gate some minutes to 6 a.m …. too early, i thought and imagined that it was impolite for the animals to get a visitor so early…. imagine a knock on your door at 6 a.m on Sunday morning am sure the lions will get pissed off. Probably they had a night out on Saturday and they are busy nursing their hangys i hilariously mused.

We started our game drive some few minutes past six, and being a wildlife/ nature lover who is passionate about photography, I was  sure this will be a good cocktail for me. In less than 30 mins into the drive strangers in this van become friends …. clicking, sharing camera tricks, settings, jokes,  ….. Lenses, extenders ….., the laughs are just contagious ….

The event turned out to be a big success. The day closed with a cocktail and prize presentation for the best photos …..

I cant wait for Photography in the wild 2 …

Benjamin ‘Kays’ kuria

Having just purchased my first DSLR camera 3 months ago, I had been getting up to speed by watching YouTube tutorials on how to take my photography skills to the next level as well as attending free photography workshops so that I can learn how to take amazing photos like I see in blogs and websites.

I came across the photography in the wild event whose well detailed program for the day entailed sunrise and sunset shooting sessions in the National Park and I was excited and I imagined what beautiful images my new camera would capture.

Early morning on the day of the event I meet very eager photographers most carrying state of the art cameras some with very huge lenses they needed a whole seat to be placed on with tripods etc..I still didn’t feel like my camera would fall short and In any case, it’s a Nikon, and I’m creative, I told myself.

We started the tour into the park and as we came across the animals, all camera shutters were just clicking and all of us scrambling for any open window and since the best photos would to be awarded, we made sure to get the best shots.

It’s only after a short time I realized my camera lens could not zoom long enough to capture the animals and landscapes in the best way to show the flies on the buffalos, the roughness of the zebras back or the hippo in the dam. I could not zoom long and wide enough to capture the gazelle with the background of Nairobi city or the aero plane flying above.

When I looked at the images on cameras with 200 mm and 400 mm lenses to say the least, clearly I did not have the best lens for wildlife photography.

I learnt something new about lenses and that one needs the proper lens for the different categories/genres of photography. Nonetheless, having spent the day with these artists/ creatives who have a passion for photography and to see what dedication can produce, only propelled me to want to get better. I will keep shooting and invest in lenses.

With the images we captured and shared to different social media platforms and blogs, I know we will help motivate aspiring photographers like me, help create awareness on wildlife conservation and Hopefully some these enthusiastic photographers will make money from their amazing photos.

I am in love with photography and more with wildlife so when the opportunity presented itself, I did not have to think about it, and there was no disappointment. Photography in the wild was what I expected and more. An opportunity to meet some of the best photographers in the country as well as  beginners, like I am. It was an awesome learning experience, and even better shared in the wild. I feel I have grown more as a photographer and my awareness as a lover of wildlife has really been boosted. Thank you Versatile for the opportunity and for the guidance. I really look forward to the next meeting and before then I will continue to speak the message you gave us that our wildlife is WORTH MORE ALIVE!

If you read this, help spread it out #WorthMoreAlive #SaveWild #WatchWildOnLineandInline

I work in a club…a high end one…one patronised by the who is who in the social circles,I don’t refuse tips, I take them as a sign of appreciation for my good work,afterall we all love money,don’t we??

You are probably thinking I’m a stripper or bartender in this club,no,I’m a photographer.
On this night, tips are flying my way like lack of importance-ta kwaga bata. I pocket all this as tomorrow I have a safari drive with my people,I am angry as I have just received a phone call from one Njoori telling me that he has broken my lens,i swear I’ll strangle that guy,but then again accidents happen and from the sound of it he’s sorry,though he’d better make it right otherwise…

Sunday 0500hrs

I get to my place,I shower then change and I get moving, ready for a day with the wild. I can’t help but outline my expectations for the day as the matatu cruises to nyairofi, the city of all that is good and bad.
I team up with my fellow photographers and after quite a hustle,we embark on our journey to Nairobi National Park.
I conclude that people love the wild as we find many people already queued to get in. As obedient citizens we tow the line and wait our turn.
We commence our drive and drive for 40 minutes straight without sighting an animal except for some small animals off to burry some nuts,we then spot many vehicles huddled up together and as is the norm with us Kenyans we run to where the crowds are.

Lo and behold! We find a lion basking while feeding,click click click, off go the shutters as budding photographers click away,zooming in and out, changing exposure, all in pursuit of the perfect shot.I also take my shots and boy do i like what I have.

We move to the clubhouse to have breakfast,I was famished,I down several mugs of tea and an infinity number if samosas, ngwashe not forgetting ndumas. Come on I’m wanjiru or ciru as boys call me????,daughter of gikuyu and mumbi I must pay my respects to these foods it’s a ritual.

We set off for another drive this time round we are lucky we spot some zebras,in the background the Nairobi skyline,I try getting a shot,a killer one, but my position suits me not,i’m in a very high bus and cannot get a good low angle.I look to the car infront,my mentor is in a van,on his hand a prime lens of focal length 400mm.A lens the size of my arm and costs a kidney and a liver????.There’s no way i stand a chance to get a better shot with my 70-300mm which Njoori broke,damn him.

We drive for some time then go back to the clubhouse for lunch and a session by gibs.
I love food…it’s among the many reasons I wake up????.I eat chicken and ugali to my fill,my friend cathy majani would be so envious.
I struggle to listen to gibbs talk about…I don’t remember as yesternite lack of sleep took a toll on me. I am  woken up by the sound of claps as he is being applauded after his talk.

We head out for another drive. We meet an old grizzled buffalo with a broken horn and a cracked skin that has weathered many storms of the savannah. It feeds with its head bowed, probably enjoying the savannah grass or mourning for its long lost relations that vanished through the lion’s paws or through the famine of the savannah.”what’s your story wild cow? If only you’d lift up your head and reveal to us that which you conceal. It raised its head slowly like Elizabeth the queen would wave to the crowd and the rhyme of the shutters began click click click to infinity.A moment to live for.

We then head onto the picnic site where we sort of team build by played games that require team spirit. There was a man with his son, each has a camera clicking away to awesome images. I decide that I shall buy my kids a camera too if and when they come.

We head back to the clubhouse for submission of three of the best photos for the awarding. I submit mine with no hope of winning. I move back to the back seats and chat my way off on my phone.
“Theres a lady who has awesome pictures but she edited hers with her camera and can thus not be considered for the ranking,even so we will applaud her art.give it up for ESTHER WANJIRU.”
This was a moment for happiness,i move forward with my ugly shorts and dusty crocs????????.
It matters not how you look but what you can do.

Attending the event by utter coincidence, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, or it was by luck. I had gone to someone’s office but found them in a meeting and thereby at the reception i decided to read my old messages. I mute my whatsapp groups and read old messages when i have time. From one of the chats I got the Whatsapp add for Photography in the Wild. I got interested in it and immediately made a decision to participate.

Two things stood out for me -Photography then Wild, I was sold out. One problem though, i had no camera. I called the number and got to speak to Naomi. She proposed that I get myself a D300 and referred me to a seller.

Long and short I got myself a D300 (i did not know any better) and I was all equipped for photography in the wild. Regina called me to remind me of the fee (i had forgotten. Excitement labda) and she promptly emailed the program soon after. That sunday experience was truly awesome.

I met amazingly loving people, people passionate about photography, people with so much energy. I was there, with my brand new camera and I tripod. Which i never got to use. I enjoyed great help help from everyone. From fixing my lens to understanding how the basic buttons works. I was proud of what I was able to do with my baby camera. I saw gadgets of all forms and sizes, Macharia’s lens was from out of this world, at least I got to use use a bigger lens thanks to Essy. The difference in quality was tangible. (Evidence: Take a look at the picture of the buffalo)

My experience at this event was so good so much so much so that I had=ve enrolled for photography classes with Versatile. 2 classes down (orientation and introduction) I am learning photography that will come in handy for my project (the travelling accountant) and also FOMO (fear of missing out) you can’t afford to miss trips with this passionate photographers-pure fun and a lot of learning while at it.

Thank you David Macharia and the team for what you do. God bless versatile, long live versatile.

Gladys Juma

The Travelling Accountant