Singita, Tanzania 2019

The Singita private reserve bordering the Serengeti in northern Tanzania boasts around 250 lion. That is the highest density in the world and some of the prides constitute some 20 to 30 lion together. To run into a pride that big is to witness one of nature’s great offerings.

The problem for a photographer is how to do the pride or the opportunity justice. If the lion are in the grass – as they almost invariable will be up north – there is no way a cameraman can get out of the jeep – it is unfeasible to watch out for so many lion.

If a cameraman is in a jeep, unless the lion are at raised elevation (such as on a rock), the camera will always be pointing down. The closer to the lion, the more obvious the downward perspective and the further away the lion, the greater the need for magnification, which compresses emotion as well as distance.

If the lion are together in one huddle, it can be messy – a bit like an Hieronymus Bosch painting – a messy cocktail of legs and tails. I want simplicity and I also like the lead character not just to be close, but also pin sharp. That determines my composition.

On this occasion, I was able to be close enough to use my favourite 200mm lens and luckily the lion were on land that was slightly higher than mine. The lead character in the image was probably just a foot higher than me. So, if I was 10 feet away, the gradient of 10% is enough for a 200mm to cover up. I am reminded that whilst key words in photography are emotion, research and authenticity, one that must never be forgotten is maths.



  • Image: 56" x 72" (143 cm x 183 cm)
  • Framed: 67" x 83" (171 cm x 211 cm)

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