Inspired by books such as Out of Africa and Flame Trees of Thika, photographer Beth Henry set out to capture the wildness of Africa through the lens of a camera. Once there, she will tell you, the continent unfolded into many complex facets. "There was no turning back," she says with a smile.
With its sweeping horizons, incredible biodiversity and habitats that range from delta to jungle to desert and back again, Africa – Kenya in particular – offers photographers and other artists an endless montage of wildlife and wilderness. For Beth, however, no subject in the African story captures the essence of the untamed plains like the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).
"The majestic, commanding shape... the dignity of their measured pace..." Beth contemplates the elephant's beauty. "They are the only animal that the word 'droll' can best describe," she finishes with a laugh.
Her love of these animals led Beth to Elephant Watch, a safari camp and research center in Samburu in northern Kenya. Started by biologists and wildlife enthusiasts Iain and Oria Douglas Hamilton, Elephant Watch is world renowned for its cutting-edge research on elephant behavior, notably migration patterns. This project will help local communities and development organizations avoid destructive trampling and the raiding of farm produce that often plague towns and development projects. The ultimate goal of Elephant Watch is to help preserve Africa's last remaining herds of elephants.
Beth's photographs, many of them taken at the Samburu camp, contain a truth and a natural sense of beauty. "With their infused color and subtly added layers of textures, the images somehow resemble more closely what I witnessed and experienced," she says about her art. "I hope people come away with a more intimate sense of the animal's character."