South Africa, 2020
Vayetse is probably the most handsome of Kevin Richardson’s lions and certainly the most famous. This image, taken in a flooded grassland after summer rains, is the strongest I have taken of him for a few years.
The key was to be low to the lion, close to the lion and yet safe. This mandate would not therefore have been for everyone. Lying in water a foot deep inside a metal cage in an African swamp is not for the precious, but it was my only option. My legs itched for days after, but I guess that was a small price to pay for this image.
It is important in these types of portraits for the eye contact of the lion to be emphatic. If the lion is not looking at me, the power of the image is materially reduced. It will be his eyes that tell us that Vayetse is focused, alert and on the hunt. That “Basic Instinct” was the narrative I was looking for and it is not always easy with a lion.
I am reminded that the eye is the window to the soul.
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