PDN Photo of the Day

The Beasts of the Mara, Up Close

In his new book The Mara, published by Britain’s Natural History Museum, Anup Shah describes growing up in Kenya, where, he writes, “wildlife was just outside the door in abundance.” Falling in love with the open land and its creatures produced an emotional pull in him: “driving on endless plains harboring dangerous lions invoked a giddy sense of freedom”; encountering an unexpected herd of elephants made “you feel good for a long time.” The experience inspired him to become a wildlife photographer, and much of his time has been spent photographing Maasai Mara, a game reserve in southwest Kenya. In the book, Shah’s camera often sits low to the ground—in his long horizontal images, adolescent lions and jackal pups look inquisitively at the camera. Baboons forage, an elephant family digs in the dirt, and he comes across a “gathering of placid giraffes, utterly relaxed in their home.” Shah’s animals are often silhouetted against the sky, filling the whole frame with horns or hooves or trunks. He describes, in the book’s introduction, the moment that inspired the book. On a Sunday morning, “I was in the midst of elephants and within touching distance of a couple of them,” he writes. “I felt a primeval sense of being, a connection to a distant past. After the peacefully grazing family had moved on, I wondered if I could translate that feeling into photographs.”

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