Chapter – Riding MILDRED from Nairobi-Laikipia-Isiolo-Turkana-Chalbi Desert-Nyahururu-Bogoria-Naivasha and back | 2021 Wild Stories Ep 3 | UNTOLD STORIES Ep 1/2 |
Lately, I have found myself in battle with the art creation side of my soul. I have been haunted by the number of stories that don’t see the light of day. Sometimes these stories are just ordinary stories of ordinary people living their lives. That might seem boring but those stories are unique to them and are as important as those of extremely successful people. Other times the stories are about the “Journey” and not the “destination” so to speak in reference to the epic journeys visual artists go on in search of rare footage that mostly is to answer the client’s brief. We do the job, and dump all the memories of that assignment into a hard drive and forget it for years. Well, being an artist myself, I am not immune to this disease that consumes the best of us.
In 2016, my first year of full-time photography, I went on such an epic journey. I had been chosen as one of the 5 dope Kenyan photographers (Andrew Mageto, Migwa Nthiga, Ash Appleton, Kabutha Kago, and myself) who would execute the Safaricom “This Is My Kenya” concept of 2016. It was the biggest, most awesome gig in Kenya in the photography industry. They allowed you to just create. Yes, they would give you a crew, get on the road and they would give you 100% creative control. If you have worked in the advertising industry in general, you know how rare that is. Dream for an artist right?
The deal was, every year Safaricom would choose a selected number of photographers out of thousands of portfolios of local photographers. The selected would then go on a journey to document Kenya and the images would create coffee table books, exhibitions and some would be used for advertising. This Safaricom project had highlighted some of the most talented young photographers that had come before me like Mutua Matheka, Sebastian Wanzalla, Osborne Macharia, Allan Gichigi just to name a few. There was a new breed of artists cropping up and each was bringing a very dynamic style to the market. So you can imagine how excited to do this project.
2016 CAPTURE KENYA TEAM BEHIND THE SCENES OFFICIAL TRAILER
Now, I have always seen myself as a person who always had to prove my place in the world (Story for another day). I don’t know if you know this but such people have a very strong drive when it comes to their passion. They spend their whole life working hard, waiting for that one chance to prove that their sleepless nights self-teaching photography and dreaming of travel wasn’t so crazy after all. You know that saying “be careful what you wish for”? Well my opportunity came sooner than I had anticipated but as I said, all I ever needed was one chance.
The brilliant Creative Director at the time – Jason Bruckner said to me; “here is a chance to show Kenya’s landscapes and wildlife.” It was the first time Safaricom had considered this category, previous years mainly focused on Cultures. I would want to blow my own horn and say I came blazing with a genre that all these photographers hadn’t had the balls to touch, but really, I just wanted to spend time with animals in nature. I just wanted to tell my version of the stories of the people and the animals that live in this wonderful Paradise I was born in.
So, on August 21st, 2016, the Executive Producer of the project Quentin Ikiki who would also double as my producer, our Locations Master Marete and our driver Paxso, sat for a minute inside Mildred outside Kiki’s house at 3 am to let it sink in just what we were about to do. We were about to take on a 16-day adventure across Kenya and Mildred would be our closest and most faithful companion for most of the journey. We had a long road ahead, also clearly Mildred is the sexy Landy you will see in this story. She belongs to Kiki 🙂
At 0301hrs #TeamClement all in Mildred hit the road. Most of my first hour was spent “In The Zone”. This is a place I go to in the morning whenever I am on an adventure trip. I will pray for the goals I have set for the day’s adventure, put on some music, and just get lost in my own dream world. Mostly it’s achieving that One frame that changes everything, sometimes it’s about harder things for humans to achieve and might actually need Jesus to get it done like world peace, plastic-free oceans, and a planet where a Big Cat can just roam free without someone trying to wear its head as a coat. I am an optimistic guy 😁😈
Our plan was to leave Nairobi early enough to shoot our first landscapes in Laikipia by sunrise, have breakfast, leave for Isiolo where we would photography the local communities that live around Mt Ololokwe in Isiolo at sunset, sleep in town, shoot the same location at sunrise, proceed north and aim to catch the sunset in Turkana and get to the Chalbi Desert by Day 3. We would then meet up with #TeamMigz and head to Nyahururu in convoy to spend the night. #TeamClement would head to Lake Bogoria, drive back to Nairobi to get ready for the second part of the assignment which would be Lamu with #TeamMageto then I would finish with Maasai Mara with what had now become #TeamMildred somehow.
At 6.30 am our location’s master lead us to these wonderful landscapes and I was set to take my first image of the project. This was my first image of this trip that I would potentially submit to the client and potentially set up or fail my career. So let’s say fingers were shaking 😂. But as many images in the modern age of DSLRs with the capacity to shoot thousands of images a day, they never make it to the cut of the day leave alone of the project. Such images get dumped alongside all Behind the Scenes footage into hard drives that collect dust over the years. It’s for this reason that I started writing my Wild Stories. It’s the reason why I have gone back to this folder of 2016. It’s the reason all the images in this story have seen the light of day otherwise you would only see the few select images that I submitted to the client.
And so with a good concept, good plan, a super awesome team, the backing of a great Creative Director who guided us on a daily basis, we set out on one of the most exciting adventures I have gone on. Let me try and explain… You know that unforgettable road trip that you went on with your friends and you wished it would last a lifetime? It was exactly that just spread out across half a month with a super crew, plane tickets, a whole country to visit, a professional who actually scouts for you the best sceneries to observe your sunset, but now, instead of with a phone, you get to do it with you super cool Cano, a super-intelligent DJI Phantom bird and get paid to do it. Now that I have established the scene for you, have a look at these unforgettable moments that until this year when I decided that these stories need be told only existed in the minds of the 4 individuals who sat inside Mildred on that cold beautiful October 21st morning in Kileleswa, Nairobi Kenya when most of the city was still asleep. Now, you get to see the Kenya we saw in this new category of “UNTOLD STORIES”. This story only covers the first half of the journey from Nairobi-Laikipia-Isiolo-Turkana-Chalbi-Nyahururu-Naivasha-Bogoria and back to Nairobi. I will update the second part of this story as soon as it goes LIVE.
For those of you who are curious which Images we submitted if all the above didn’t make it or was behind the scenes, here is a link where you can find a few selects. Use the password: submitted
It’s my sincere hope that you fall in love with my Spirit of Adventure and I hope it inspires you to travel to my beautiful country, I hope my UNTOLD STORIES will inspire the next generation of artists just as the once before me did. Salute my brothers and sisters in the industry who paved the way for a brother. Feel free to share this post, and leave a comment. If you would like to join me on safari in Kenya or anywhere in Africa, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next Wild Story, let’s keep dreaming, exploring and documenting. ~ ClementWild
In my bag on this trip was the Canon EOS 5D Mark III as my main camera, Canon EOS 7D as back up. My lenses were Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and Canon EF 17–40mm f/4L IS II USM