When one thinks of photography, sprawling landscapes and hefty camera equipment might come to mind. However, our recent three-day workshop in Naivasha showcased how powerful the humble smartphone can truly be.
The Venue: I chose Naivasha for this course due to it's dramatic landscapes, access to wildlife, the water and the spectacular light. This location is right in the Great Rift Valley which is rich in wildlife, lakes, geothermal activity, and diverse cultures and communities. We were fortunate to find incredible hospitality in the historic residence of Joy and George Adamson, figures etched in history due to the acclaimed film "Born Free" and their association with the celebrated lioness Elsa. The ambiance and history of this location added layers of depth to our learning experience thanks to our amazing guildes and fellow participants Anthony and David.
Our trainer: Professional photogrpaher Jeroen Swolfs famed for the Streets of the World project, joined us from Amsterdam as the trainer. He runs smart phone courses in Holland and was invited specially to do this coures as part of his other work with WildlifeDirect in Kenya. Jeroen's impact was nothing short of amazing, he was patient and helpful to all the students including tough ones like me.
Guidance from the Best: Under the watchful eye and experienced guidance of Jeroen Swolfs, our group of 24 diverse individuals from across Kenya embarked on this enlightening journey - composition, lines, light, timing, settings, editing, you. name it we covered it in 3 days.
The Curriculum: While many courses simply gloss over the basics, ours dived deep. Participants were introduced not only to the myriad features of their phones but also to advanced techniques to truly capture stories. Our journey took us to notable spots such as Lake in the Great Rift Valley, Hot springs, a fishing village Hells Gate National Park, Lake Oloiden, and the Naivasha Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center.
Growth and Reflection: It was heartening to witness the palpable growth of participants. Many came in with self-doubts about their photographic skills. By the culmination, all were capturing moments with confidence and flair. A notable mention is Larry, an 11-year-old prodigy, whose shots were nothing short of remarkable.
Proof is in the pudding: Just a few shots from our students
A Shared Victory: The end of the course featured a friendly competition, emphasizing more on the journey of learning rather than a mere win. It was evident that each participant had undergone a transformative experience, leaving with enhanced skills and a profound appreciation for nature and storytelling.
"In the heart of every African are amazing stories waiting to be told. With smartphone photography, we harness the power of the tools that are already in our grasp, empowering us to chronicle our nature, environment, and our peoples and reclaim the narrative of our unique heritage, one story at a time." - Paula Kahumbu
In Retrospect: Three days was just about right but it's never enough is it? After the workshop, the attendees expressed enormous gratitude at what they had learned, and shared their intent to use their newfound skills regularly, intertwining them into their conervation work, home life, and leisure.
Next Steps: Given the huge success of this course, we intend to make it a regular feature of training by WildlifeDirect. If you've ever felt the allure of capturing moments and narratives but felt confined by the lack of equipment or expertise, a workshop like this might just be your call to explore.
Let me know what you think and join us in our next endeavor. Dive deep, hone your skills, and let your smartphone become your canvas. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org with Smartphone Photography Course in the subject line to sign up for our next course.