Congratulations, Kelsea lee!
Thank you to everyone who participated in the #LearnOnSafari competition… we had some truly incredible entries! The winning photo, voted for by Greg Du Toit, 2013 Wildlife Photographer Of the Year won because “it captures the fleeting moment of two zebra stallions fighting. The moment would have been brief and the photographer has done well to capture both subjects reared up on their hindquarters. To see some of the herd in the background helps complete the story and the plume of dust adds to the drama. Well done!”
We wanted to get to know Kelsea a little better:
African Bush Camps (ABC): Where are you from?
Kelsea Lee (KL): I hail from Portland, Oregon in the US, but have bounced all over the place, living in Puerto Rico, Scotland, and now Australia for grad school.
ABC: Describe yourself in 5 words.
KL: Adventurous, conservationist, creative, passionate, optimistic
ABC: How did you find out about African Bush Camps?
KL: For the past five years I’ve been working for Mango African Safaris doing a little bit of everything from sales support to managing their social media. I landed in the industry by accident, but I’ve completely fallen in love with it. It’s exposed me to all the incredible parts of Africa, such as African Bush Camps.
(Images supplied by Kelsea lee)
ABC: When and where did you take the photo that inevitably won the #LearnOnSafari competition? How long were you there for?
KL: I snapped the photo of fighting zebra stallions on my first ever day on safari actually. I had flown from the Botswana Trade & Tourism Exposition (BTTE) in Kasane to Savuti as the first stop on a FAM trip. We were only there one night, but managed to have the most incredible game drives. In a stroke of pure luck, we arrived at same time – nearly to the hour – as the annual zebra migration as it passed through the Savuti Marsh. The sight of hundreds upon hundreds of zebras would dazzle nearly anyone, but as a first timer it was transformational. Between the breezes scented by African sage, the endless zebras, and the magic of immersing in pristine wilderness, it was a magical experience. I fell in love with Africa right then and there and haven’t looked back.
ABC: Have you been to one of the African Bush Camps properties before?
KL: I have – I visited the brand new Somalisa Acacia camps in Hwange National Park and was blown away by them. If the stunning design wasn’t enough, the in-camp experience was absolutely spectacular. They staff were warm and friendly, and spoiled us rotten with hot water bottles in bed, coffee delivered with the morning wake up call, and a delicious breakfast around the campfire. Truly a special place. I can’t wait to visit the rest of the African Bush Camps collection!
ABC: Have you been interested in photography for long? What got you hooked and have you had any formal training?
KL: For as long as I can recall I’ve been interested in photography. My grandfather was a photographer for Time Magazine and he took me out on photography excursions from an early age. I started out with just disposable cameras, but got my first real camera when I was five – it was yellow! Other than that, I haven’t had any formal training. I follow a lot of photographers on social media and love seeing the diverse styles out there. With platforms like Instagram, it’s so easy to get inspiration nowadays. If I see an incredible photograph, I make a mental note to try it next time I’m out and about with my camera. There are so many truly amazing places out there in the world and I love that photography has allowed us to experience them, even if we can’t get there ourselves.
ABC: Has photography impacted your life in any way?
KL: Photography had absolutely impacted by life for the better. It’s acted as my creative outlet through years of studying to be a conservation biologist. After a mind-numbing day crunching numbers, taking your camera out for a walk is the most relaxing way to unwind and reset your brain.
ABC: What inspires your photography?
KL: The natural world is my biggest inspiration for photography – how could it not be? Earth is an incredible place. I’m currently studying to get a master of science communication, looking at how we can increase support for conservation through outreach programs and media production. I’ve always found that photography was a powerful tool for inspiring your audience to support a good cause. It’s hard to care about a world that you’ve never seen, or an animal that you’ve never heard of. I try to use my photography to share not only Africa’s beauty, but also the plight facing its declining wildlife populations.
ABC: Were you surprised when you won? How did you find out?
KL: I was definitely surprised! I initially entered because I loved the premise of ‘learn on safari’. I’ve been lucky to learn a fair bit about biology and ecology through my studies, but the depth of knowledge held by the safari guides is unfathomable. I’m always astounded by the intricacies they know about the ecosystem, and I love getting to learn from them. This was such a unique approach to a photo competition, so I couldn’t wait to enter. Late one night I was scrolling through Instagram when I came upon my own photo featured on the African Bush Camps account – it was a pretty exciting moment!
ABC: When did you receive the prize?
KL: In an amazing bit of timing, the prize arrived on my birthday.
ABC: How did you feel when it arrived? What are you going to do with your prize?
KL: It was super fun to have the prize arrive when it did – like a birthday present straight from Africa. I immediately unwrapped it and hung it up in my living room. I’ve never got any photographs printed on canvas, so it’s fun to see it hanging on the wall – brings back great memories every time I see it!