Sunday, June 1, 2014


His name was Igor (as named at birth by Cynthia Moss of Amboseli Elephant Research). For forty-nine years, he wandered the plains of the Amboseli ecosystem in East Africa. A gentle soul like most elephants, he was so relaxed that in 2007, he allowed me to come within a few feet of him to take his portrait.

Two years later, it was perhaps this level of trust that allowed poachers to get close enough to kill him and hack out the tusks from his face.

And so it was that in late 2010, Igor became the unfortunate poster child of Big Life Foundation, the organization that I co-founded to help protect and preserve the widl animals of East Africa, and Igor's home, the Amboseli ecosystem, Big Life's pilot initiative project. (To learn more about Big Life, please go to

In terms of the technical side of the photo, as many of you know I only shoot medium format black and white film on a Pentax 67II without zoom or telephoto lenses. I have overheard people looking at this print, saying they are convinced that I shot the photo in a studio. It's actually this quality that I like about the photo. When I first viewed the contact sheet, I thought that the background looked like a scenic backdrop on a sound stage, with Igor lit by a soft spotlight off to one side.

(This photograph is published in "On This Earth, A Shadow Falls:. It will be back in print in July 2014, but until then, SIGNED copies are available at


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