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The Story of Cobra

My Photo scholarship 2011 entry

Botswana | Sunday, 6 November 2011 | 5 photos

I have always loved to travel. My parents had seen much of the world before I was born and ingrained in my three sisters and me a great sense of adventure. But despite their broad experience, we almost never left Canada when I was growing up. I only had their stories and their photos to feed my imagination. I would hold up to the light my mother’s slides of places like Accra, or Sarajevo, or Hanoi, and pestered her about each of them. I knew from early on the photographs that I liked, and the ones I wanted to take.

Photography is a normal part of any holiday. And although perhaps unavoidable, I have never insisted on documenting my travel for it’s own sake, but rather look for every opportunity to take a good picture. Photographs don’t so much remind me of my trips, as they show me something new. The photo for me isn’t the way we remembered it; it ‘s not even what I saw at the time. And that’s as true for the Impala frozen in mid-air, as it is for the static building. My successful photographs are as much a discovery for me--photographer on the scene--as they are for my casual audience. Even poor photographs can do that. But the great ones keep you staring. More than anything it’s what makes photography such a pleasure, the opportunity to pull away from ‘what’s there’. This is what propels me to keep taking better photos.

The images of Cobra give me that same sense of revelation. His personality and charm contribute to his huge charisma. But these photos bring out much more for me; they show me Cobra’s ancient link to the Makgadikgadi Pans, and his wisdom about his environment. This competition, far more than an opportunity for validation, gives me the initiative to grapple with the challenge of doing great photography, and most of all the space to learn.

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