Through my photography, I have been able to travel to the most beautiful places on this planet. But one definitely stands out to me like no other. The Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. A heaven for photographers. It is one of the best places on earth to see big cats. I have traveled there three times already, and I fall in love over and over again. Last summer I was able to observe one of nature’s seven wonders, the big migration of the wildebeest that come over from the Serengeti to find fresh grass in the Masai Mara.
Many big cats use this chance to hunt wildebeest that got injured during the crossing. There is especially one group of wild cats that are known to almost all photographers. The fast five. The fast five are a coalition of five male cheetahs. Two brothers got together with a set of three brothers and formed a coalition to hunt and live together. Nowhere else on earth can this be observed.
I have had the privilege of observing these magnificent cats hunt, and it is truly incredible. Each one of them has a special dedicated role and their hunting is extremely coordinated, I have never seen anything like it in my life. They know that they have a higher survival rate if they work together. They hunt every day and are more successful than any other group out there. I am excited to see them again on my next trip to the Masai Mara, and I hope that many others get the privilege to see these beautiful cats.
It is truly incredible what nature has up its sleeves sometimes.
Everyone has dreams of what they want their future to look like. I am currently a senior in high school and I am getting ready for college. My dream school is Montana State University in Bozeman. It is just 1 1/2 hours away from Yellowstone and just 2 hours away from Grand Teton Nationalpark which is a dream place for me and my photography. But before I go to college I will take a Gap year. I had always planned to take a gap year after high school to just have one year of not studying and doing what I want.
My Gap Year will revolve all around my photography. I am am planning to travel to my favorite place in the world, the Masai Mara in Africa for 2 months. I will work with rangers to help prevent poaching as well as spreading the word of wildlife conservation. On the other hand I will work with vets to learn more about the wildlife in Africa. I am also planning to travel to a place that I always wanted to go, Uganda in Africa. I am planning to spend about 4 weeks there to spend time with one of the most incredible species out there. The silver back gorillas.
I have always been fascinated with gorillas. The way they communicate with each other is incredible. I am hoping to further my understanding of these incredible animals and also help protect them as they are on the verge of extinction.
I am excited for my Gap year, as I will do what I love most. I am hoping to have an impact with my photography and spread the word of wildlife conservation further around the globe.
I am currently starting to get ready for my College applications. It is a lot of stress and, on top of it, loads and loads of homework. I always try to find something that can distract me. I tend to try and get everything done in one sitting but I have to remind myself that my body needs a break sometimes. I have started to go on runs to get my mind free and it works! But often the day has just been too tiring to go on a run on top of that so I go and do something creative such as drawing, editing photos, or playing the guitar!
But I must say there is one thing that nothing else can come close to that makes me happy and relaxes me. And that is just going to the barn and spending time with the horses. It’s not even the riding part, mostly I just sit down in a stall with a horse and just watch them. Two years ago a very close friend of mine graduated. She learned riding at the school and bonded with one horse especially. The horse’s name is Simba. He has such a character and is an incredibly fun horse to ride. When my friend graduated she asked me to take care of him for her, and so I did. I started forcing a bond with him. Now every time I see him I am filled with happiness and joy.
I have always had stronger binds with animals than I had with people. I guess part of it is that animals don’t talk. They just sit there and do their thing. They don’t judge you and they don’t talk about you behind your back. They have their own characters and they do what they want.
Simba has taught me a lot throughout high school and he has helped me to find time to relax and just be. He can be a brat sometimes but he has taught me to never give up even if you have a bad day. Just push through it, and it will eventually get better.
School is back in session and I couldn’t be more excited.
Online school was an interesting experience, but I would not do it again. It was hard and it did not have the same feeling as in-person learning.
Although it has been two days of in person learning, I have enjoyed it much more than online. I have been able to connect with my friends and teachers, which is much easier to do in person.
Sports are also starting up, which is also another way to connect with new people and make long lasting memories. There are many more opportunities to do outdoor activities, and eventually go into town.
Another upside to doing in person school is that I am able to visit home. Since people are coming on campus, we are able to leave on the weekends and during holidays.
Overall, I am glad the Ojai Valley School opened for school.
Am I laying in a hospital bed surrounded by my family, basking in all of my successes. Nothing but happiness and satisfaction when I look back. I close my eyes with the itention of sleeping. Slipping deeper into sleep. I lose my grip on life. My lungs exhale with my last breath and Im gone.
Is that a sad way to go?
Or am I climbing Mount Everest? Each breath a fight for survival. Each step a step closer to absolute accomplishment. Maybe I started in a group of 15 and now there are two. My other partner ready to make the summit with me. We leave camp four which sits exactly at 26,000 feet. It is a day of oxygen tanks and sheer pain. The wind is generous but the air still spun with little frozen flakes. Were so close. With only a half an hour longer, my partner says he can’t make it. I push on. I make it. The snow had stopped completely. My lungs shrunk and my body crippled with the cold. Sitting down I rest. Absolute peace. The clouds hung below the mountain cutting me off from the ordinary world. Hours pass by after the excruciating journey, I let the cold take my body. The weather changes and the winds pick up. Without enough strength or carry on I sit there letting the elements take me. In my last minutes, all I can think about is the excruciatingly cold pain that rips at my skin. I close my eyes and my body is forever frozen in time.
That would be cool.
But what happens after death?
Do I instantly begin a new life? Do I get re-circulated back into the possibly ever looping birth cycle? Did I die just to die again and again and again?
Or does my energy and soul dissipate into the world erasing me completely?
These questions are unanswerable so I choose not to fear death but accept that it will happen. All I can do is live before I die.
A wise man once said to me that your trauma is not something that can be resolved. A person must take what has happened to them and learn how to survive alongside the pain, and instead of it consuming you, it becomes apart of you.
A wise man once said to me that I was meant to be great. I am not destined to do one monumental thing, he said, I am destined to be monumental.
A wise man once said to me that life was a seed that everyone is encouraged to plant. Some will plant their seed with the best of soil and it will still fail to grow. Some will grow in the crevice of two boulders, striped of all nurtience, and explode into an extraordinary tree.
A wise man once said to me that reading stories about the crystal blue sea or the towering mountains that forever reached to the heavens was not enough. He said to me that I must dive deep into salty water, and let the cold chill take over my body. He told me that I must drown in experiences, and that I must lay above the clouds.
A wise man once told me that my life is a piece of nothing in the scheme of infinity, a single electron in the sun’s ever-burning fire. He told me that beyond my sunken world there was a blackness that stretched out so far that if I were to walk the path of infinity for my entire life, I would not reach the starting line.
A wise man stared at me as I stared at him. The fogged mirror didn’t affect how clearly I saw the man looking back at me. As he gripped my eyes he said, don’t waist Oxygen trying to survive, use what you are given and try and live.
For many years I have been an active advocate and participant in wildlife conservation. With my photography, I am hoping to reach people and show them the beauty and diversity we have on our planet and show how important it is to keep it alive. There are so many incredible photographers out there that do just that, and who use their voice to stand up for animals. I have many role-models that I look up to, but recently there has been an uproar for one of them.
David Yarrow is one of the most famous photographers and one of the seemingly biggest advocates for wildlife conservation. But in reality, he embodies everything that is NOT conservation. From chasing a giraffe to get a perfect shot, to using wolves and bears that are enslaved, to game farms with a record of abuse, there is one image that has caused the public to hold their breath. A picture in which a model is standing just 15 feet away from 3 elephants.
Now many will probably wonder why that is so bad. If anything would have happened during the shooting, say if one of the elephants started to feel stressed or threatened, they could have firstly endangered the life of the model, but also their lives. If one of the elephants would have attempted to charge, he would have paid for it with his life and would have probably gotten shot. One of the three elephants is named Craig, one of Africa’s last big tuskers.
Now I wonder, is it really worth it to risk a animals life just to get a perfect shot. And most importantly, can you call yourself a wildlife conservationist while actually exploiting animals. I don’t think so.
Yarrow has finally said something and apologized for his actions. It is not much but it is a first step in making things right.