Monday, October 25, 2021

‘I felt like I was the only tourist in Kenya’: How photographer Felix Rome got the wildlife pictures of a lifetime

Despite his surname, Felix Rome never wanted to settle in an urban area. The Salisbury, England native trained as a photographer and eventually landed his dream job — staff shutterbug for a group of safari camps in East Africa.

Although Rome was hired to travel between Governor’s Camp’s properties, the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas, forcing him to stay put in Kenya.

Though one of his job responsibilities was to join resort guests on their excursions to help document their experiences, Rome found himself essentially alone in the country. And that provided a different sort of opportunity — taking intimate photos of wild animals who suddenly didn’t have tourists around staring at them.

Rome arrived in Kenya in March and planned to be in the Masai Mara National Reserve for three months before moving on to the next property. But as travel in Kenya and throughout Africa became increasingly difficult amid the ongoing pandemic, he found himself staying put.

The entire country is currently under a curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.. Masks are required in public and large gatherings are off-limits until further notice. International flights were allowed to resume beginning in June.

The pandemic regulations dropped tourism at the Mara, normally one of the world’s big bucket list destinations, down to nearly nothing.

“Lack of tourists has been a big factor. I was driving around, I think it was about five weeks, where I didn’t see a single other car,” Rome says.
But that allowed him the freedom to dig in deep and not obsess over the quantity of photos he was getting every day.

For a traveler on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, this is a big concern. The more photos you take in a short amount of time, the more likely you are to end up with some great ones in the mix. But Rome’s unique position has given him the ability to simply hang out and wait for the perfect shot.

Rome explains: “I’ll often wake up at about 5:30 a.m., then go out by 6:00 just before sunrise and then stay out until 9:00, 10:00 sometimes. Come back, have breakfast. Then I’ll edit the pictures, do little write-ups as well of what’s been going on.”

In addition to taking pictures, Rome maintains a YouTube channel about his experiences and will also share stories on his own and Governors’ social media accounts. His photos are used in ads for the hospitality group, and he’s allowed to sell prints of them through his website and retains final ownership. [see the ful article]


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