When you have predators close at hand in a wild environment; when you are outside a shark cage or away from a vehicle without a weapon, you feel an intense heightening of your senses. You are alert and profoundly aware of your vulnerabilities. You are also very much in tune with any creature that is watching you. In the wild you are either predator or prey, and the signals you give off as a human often dictate whether you are on the menu or reading it.
When photographing lions in the wild, I love to get a low-down perspective and often find myself lying in thorns, mud or worse in order to get that feeling of making contact with my subject.
On this occasion, deep in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, we had come across a pride of lions resting in an open patch between vast fields of tall grass. What set this pride apart from many others I have worked with was that rather than being cautious or indifferent to my presence, they were alert to opportunity: they saw a living creature lying on the ground and they saw potential prey.
Shortly after this shot was taken, the magnificent lioness who had so attentively watched me, slunk off into the grass and proceeded to stalk slowly to where I had been lying. By this point I was alert to what was happening and had slowly backed off to our car and climbed back inside. Not thirty seconds after I had quietly closed the driver’s door she emerged from the tall grass and proceeded to sniff and smell exactly where I had been lying.
This was one of those very few occasions in my time with predators that I had felt uneasy and relied on my senses as well as watching the behaviour of my subjects to warn me of impending danger.
Exhibition: 173cm x 119.4cm (68” x 47”)
Large: 146 cm x 100 cm (57.5″ x 39.5″)
Classic: 118cm x 81.5cm ( 46.5” x 32”)