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Africa Through My Mother’s Eyes

On my recent trip to Australia to co-lead and drive the Princess Parrot Expedition for Birdquest, I had the pleasure of being able to tack a few days on to the end of the trip to see my family in Cairns and on the Gold Coast.
During my stay with my parents in Cairns, I finally got the chance to look at the photographs my mum took while we were away in South Africa and Namibia in June.

Before we left for Johannesburg at the end of the May, panic struck me.  I realised that my mum didn’t have a decent camera with her for the trip.  Since she is older and a full DSLR and lenses is too heavy and technical for her to carry, I made the decision to buy her a little Canon Powershot with a 60x optical zoom.  I nearly always recommend bridge cameras to people who are going to Africa but who don’t want to carry big kit around with them.  After all, lugging the sort of gear I carry with me isn’t for everyone.

Packing, I somehow managed to squeeze her camera in with all of my gear, and off I flew from the UK to Johannesburg to meet them off their flight from Australia.  Accompanying her camera was a plethora of slower memory cards that I don’t use anymore so my mum could basically have a camera and just take as many pictures as she wanted.  When I gave it to her in Africa she cried.
My mum has always been the family photographer.  My dad has always just delighted in seeing the shots she takes.
Well, since we parted ways at the end of the trip, I hadn’t really had the chance to fully look at what my mum had taken on the trip.  When I did I was pleasantly surprised.
As with all my trips I am usually thrilled to see what my clients take in the field.  After all, I know full well what it is like to take a group of photographers into a specific place and see everyone getting completely different angles to what I imagined.  I love seeing their stories unfold, sometimes even more than I enjoy seeing my own.
When that ‘client’ is your mum, though, that thrill takes on a whole new meaning.  It was the first time both my parents had really seen Africa.  My mum had visited South Africa during the apartheid era of the 1960s and so much has changed in Africa since then, we really counted this as the first time they both could see the real Africa.  The Africa that I see.  One that is sprinkled with some tourist experiences but also with totally wild immersions.  It was this trip that I literally “drove off the map to the border regions of Namibia and Angola” with my parents, an area that is so remote, so few tourists see it.  I was a bit apprehensive about travelling with my elderly parents to such a remote place but they loved it so much and they became some of the privileged few to visit a part of Africa that you don’t see on postcards.  The heart of Africa.  The Africa of beautiful tribal people living in some of the wildest landscapes on earth.
So here is Africa as my mum saw it.  I must say I was really impressed with this gallery of shots.  She just saw scenes so differently to me in many ways.  Of course we saw some of them the same, but mostly the shots are very well done, especially for a lady who is nearly 80 on her first ever real photography trip to Africa.

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