‘We photographed the animals with motion sensors, then the humans. In the final edit, the exchange of looks between mother elephant and man was a wonderful surprise’ – Interview by Dale Berning Sawa,
Image Credit: Bridge Construction with Elephants and Workers, photograph by Nick Brandt, Africa.
Poaching in southern Kenya is largely under control now, thanks to the numbers of rangers in place, but there is a bigger issue these days: the invasion of humankind into the wildlife habitat and the conflict that ensues.
There is only so much space for people and animals to coexist. That is what I wanted to depict in This Empty World, my series of shots taken in southern Kenya in 2017.
Each work is a composite of two images: the animals photographed first and the humans second, shot weeks apart.
We worked on Maasai community ranchland, near Amboseli National Park.
I needed a location that had both wildlife habitat and unprotected land inhabited by people. I also wanted it to be extremely denuded, due to overgrazing: the dust was important from an aesthetic point of view.
The shots were planned ahead of time but only half-staged. We built a partial set and installed a camera that was triggered by motion sensors each time an animal came into the frame. And then we waited. Weeks, sometimes months, went by before we would capture one.
There were times I wondered if the project would work. Luckily, we had nine other cameras set up across the region.