Fashion

‘My baboon shot that won global award’

baboon

Grand Winner Riccardo Marchegiani from Italy poses for a photo next to his winning photo taken in the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia on display at the National Musuems of Kenya (NMK) on October 28, 2021. NMG PHOTO

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Summary

  • Riccardo Marchegiani began dreaming of taking wildlife photographs at the age of 14 years. That was six years ago.
  • His parents bought him a Nikon D200 and a few lenses to start honing his skills. He now uses a Sony Alpha 7R III.
  • The 20-year-old would begin taking photos of every kind, but what mostly intrigued him were photographs of African wildlife.

Riccardo Marchegiani began dreaming of taking wildlife photographs at the age of 14 years. That was six years ago.

His parents bought him a Nikon D200 and a few lenses to start honing his skills. He now uses a Sony Alpha 7R III.

The 20-year-old would begin taking photos of every kind, but what mostly intrigued him were photographs of African wildlife.

His major stumbling block was that he is Italian and he had to wait until his family travelled to Africa for him to satisfy his curiosity to take the shots he loved most.

He is in university, studying jurisprudence with the hope that he will one day become a lawyer or a judge.

His passion in photography has won him two global awards.

“Usually, I travel to Africa with my dad, and we have been to many countries, like Egypt, Ethiopia, Namibia, Madagascar, and Kenya,” says Marchegiani.

It is during one of his visits to Ethiopia that he took a photo that would toss him to into global limelight in 2019. The photo, the “Early riser”, won him the wildlife photographer of the year in 2019. This is his most memorable photo.

A visit to the country in 2018 gave him another award-winning photo two years later. Late last month, Marchegiani emerged the grand prize winner in the inaugural Benjamin Mkapa Africa Wildlife Photography Awards held in Nairobi with his photo of “Gelada and Baby” shot in the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia.

He beat close to 9,000 entrants from 50 countries worldwide who had submitted their photographs and videos in the global competition, walking away with $5,000 (Sh555,476) in cash prize and a large Shona elephant sculpture.

The award-wining photo was described by the judges as one that tells a story of conservation, on one side charming with the pure beauty of nature, but on the other side reminding people that the idyllic scenario can nowadays be true in only a very few spots left of the world not yet ruined by selfishness of human race.

But what goes into taking that award-winning shot?

He says that luck plays a critical role as one cannot control nature. But that is not enough, it is only half of the work.

An individual will need to use the luck to his or her advantage by capturing the moment at the right time which requires dedication, says the 20-year-old.

Marchegiani says that when they travel, they keep looking for wildlife in the best possible spots to represent them in their natural habitat. Simien Mountains is populated with Gelada baboon colony, monkeys that only eat grass.

However, they went there for a few days but did not find any colony but kept hunting until they got lucky because they have been at the exact spot once but did not find any Gelada.

The place, he says, is hidden and one has to walk to get to the mountain’s high peak which is 600 metres above the ground.

“I was lucky enough to be there before all these happened. Once I found the beautiful landscape with a spoiled valley, waterfall and fog coming through the valley and spotting the Gelada colony, I didn’t even care how much time I waited. I was there and the time seemed not to end but the only thing I cared for was to get the picture,” he recounts what went into taking the winning photograph.

“I waited for the Gelada and the baby to position themselves in the right place then I took the picture,” he adds.

He explains that taking photograph of wildlife is demanding because photographing animals is harder since you cannot control them because “when you are taking the pictures, you are telling a story.”

“It takes a lot of experience but also a lot of luck when we talk about wildlife photography,” Marchegiani says.