THE FULL NINE YARDS
Dinokeng, South Africa 2014
There is nothing more exciting or fearsome than the sight of a lion charging towards you in the wild. To try and capture this image, I travelled to South Africa to work with Kevin Richardson – The Lion Whisperer – an extraordinary man that has become a good friend.
Early one evening, we were working with this beautiful lion. I was out of the jeep, hand holding my D4S with a fast 300mm lens, but the jeep car door was open behind me and I had a second or so to get in and close the door as the lion came towards me. Kevin was also at hand – but manifestly not directly between the lion and myself – the camera does not lie.
I don’t think a photographer should be closer than 10 yards to an incoming running lion and perhaps this was the “full nine yards”. I banged my knee and the lens in jumping back into the jeep, but the image – the last in the series before I jumped – is now with us forever. Kevin’s relationship with these lions is remarkably strong and had something gone wrong, I do believe he would have prevented me from being mauled. I trusted him implicitly and was able to focus entirely on the job in hand and hold the camera steady.
The fact that the shot is backlit adds to its emotion and power – the sun hitting the blades of grass reminds me of Ridley Scott’s opening shots in Gladiator. What a magnificent gladiator the male lion is.
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LARGE: 71" x 79" (180 x 201 cm)
STANDARD: 52" x 58" (132 x 147 cm)
LARGE: Edition of 12
STANDARD: Edition of 12