Wildlife photographer raises urgent funds to protect African ecosystems
Famous American photographer and storyteller Drew Doggett helps create space for hope this holiday season by raising awareness and raising funds for Space for Giants, a conservation charity.
For every donation made to the campaign, Space for Giants will send donors a digital copy of Drew’s amazing Mighty Tusker image as a thank you and as a reminder of the impact we can have when we work together.
The funds will help prevent human-elephant conflict in Kenya. As elephants and humans coexist in increasingly small spaces, the need for coexistence between humans and elephants only intensifies. By building electric fences along important conservation areas, the association is not only creating safe spaces for farmers, but also for elephants.
Drew’s striking elephant image, called Mighty Tusker, features one of the largest remaining tusked elephants on the planet against the epic backdrop of Kilimanjaro.
Here Drew tells The independent how he captured the amazing photo:
What made you decide to become a photographer and storyteller?
It was a personal revelation when I realized that I could combine my love of travel, exploration, all that is wild, and learning about new cultures in one career – that of photography.
After my first expedition to the Himalayas to visit the isolated people of Humla, I was hooked. From that moment on, I knew that I would dedicate my life to telling stories through my photography and my films. I feel a responsibility towards my subjects which pushes me to continue; it’s a huge privilege to be able to do this job.
Can you tell us about your work and how it all started?
My initial interest in the medium of photography came at a young age. My father was an architect and hobbyist photographer, which sparked my love for the camera. In high school, I discovered the energizing abilities of photography, whether in the darkroom or in the world.
My first experience in professional photography was helping local portrait photographers during my college days and then after my fashion degree in New York City. For six years, I assisted the best fashion photographers, which gave me the technical knowledge and know-how I needed for my own practice.
My trip to the Himalayas – my first of my own artistic accord – turned out to be the exact solution my creative mind was looking for. Since then, I have traveled the world in search of the most extraordinary subjects.
What landscapes do you imagine when you think of the most special spaces in your life?
I could probably spend my life in Africa. From the diversity of wildlife there to the warmth of the people I have been fortunate enough to meet, I can’t think of a place closer to my heart. Some of my favorite recent memories include the Ilkisisusiu pride photograph of around 20 lions in the Naboisho reserve bordering the Mara, or the Virunga trek for mountain gorillas. I was also fortunate enough to spend time with the incredibly welcoming Rendille people near the Chalbi Desert in Kenya. What made each of these expeditions so special to me were the raw, untouched environments and the relationship each of these subjects had with our Earth; they work at Mother Nature’s rhythms, not against them.
Sable Island is also a place close to my heart. This tiny 13 square mile strip nestled in the Atlantic is home to just one tough, miraculous breed of all the wild horses I have been fortunate enough to document over the past decade. I have created an entire body of works dedicated to their existence, as well as an award-winning short film and a recently published book titled “Wild: The Legendary Horses of Sable Island” with a preface by my hero Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE .
Can you tell us a bit about the photo that appears in the campaign?
This photo captures two of the most powerful occupants of Amboseli and the surrounding area; a super elephant with tusks – Craig – and Kilimanjaro. Until recently, it was believed that super-tusked elephants were completely extinct. With tusks weighing 100 pounds each, these animals are nothing short of amazing. Elephants are, in my humble opinion, already some of the most amazing creatures of the African plains, but super tusks have this incredible and unique presence among all animals; you can see it in the way other bulls desire to be around them at all times.
I had several images that I had dreamed of creating on this trip, but as any wildlife photographer knows, there isn’t much more you can do than prepare for the shot you want to take and to hope that mother nature takes care of it. However, on this trip I couldn’t have asked for more. Working with the local Maasai, I was able to spend several days with Tim & Craig, the greatest defenders on record at the time. Craig, who is pictured in this image, is now considered one of the greats after Tim’s death. It was an honor to create these images.
How do you hope your images will inspire people to protect our natural world? Do you agree that photography is a powerful way to raise awareness about important issues such as wildlife conservation – if so, why?
I like this quote from Baba Dioum, the Senegalese ecologist: “In the end, we will only keep what we like, we will only like what we understand, and we will only understand what we are taught. .
His words are a philosophy that I try to embody when I create my work. For example, to me Craig is the face of all we have to lose if we don’t take action to protect the incredible biodiversity of Kenya’s national parks and across Africa – and, realistically, the world. . Craig’s images – and photography as a medium – have this immense power to act not only as art, but also as a document of our time.
I aim to blend the artistic and documentary power of photography to share the amazing parts of our world with anyone who wants to take a moment to watch. It is in these moments of seeing that we have the opportunity to help foster an appreciation and understanding of our natural world and all of its inhabitants among others. I hope these images inspire viewers to help us protect what is wild and free.
What inspired you to work with Space for Giants?
Our voices will always be louder and more powerful together, which is why I am thrilled to be working with Space for Giants and the rest of their amazing collaborators. I have been fortunate enough to travel around Africa a lot, spending time both with the people and in the amazing natural parks. There is such a link between the well-being of communities, climate change, and Africa’s hugely important biodiversity, and Space for Giants does a tremendous job of amplifying the voices of all of these interconnected elements into one cohesive cause that requires our full attention.
I am incredibly excited to use my work to help raise awareness of our common interests in protecting wild creatures and their surrounding communities.
Do you have hope for our future – if so, why?
I really have hope for our future. Technology is enabling us to raise awareness and drive change at a rate never before possible, which is incredibly exciting. I think there is so much power in using art as a vehicle for awareness, especially when it comes to reaching new audiences, and I’m more than excited to see what can happen when we all work together. Moreover, there is also so much hope, passion and inspiration in the younger generations and their voices are getting louder and louder. I am more than excited to see what we can accomplish as one.
For more information on the Space for Hope campaign, click here