Colossal Craig, 2020

Medium: Pigment Print, Platinum Palladium, Silver Gelatin
Year: 2021

I find it a daunting task to portray such a famous and well-photographed individual, and I think most photographers from all genres would agree. For a new image to be a success, something must be unique, which is not always easy. After Tim's passing (the largest recorded tusker in over 35 years), Craig is arguably the most famous of all African elephants. Of course, it was primarily due to his mammoth-like tusks, but Craig is such an exceptional elephant in that his character is as unique as his ivory. I found it hard to understand how trusting and friendly this elephant was when he is well aware of the danger his most magnificent feature places him. I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with several tuskers over the past few years. On several occasions, I have witnessed them sticking their tusks inside bushes to hide them from humans, face the opposite direction, or other elephants moving in front to conceal the mighty tusks. His character is as unique as his tusks because, within the same Ecosystem, other tuskers such as Tolstoy do not have anything like the same temperament. If Craig were not the legend that he is, this portrait would not exist. I wanted my portrait of Craig to be different from anything I had taken before, which is why I chose to visit the Amboseli Ecosystem in October when the dust becomes the defining feature of the area. I used a remote-controlled camera not to disturb him with a vehicle blocking his path. However, when he heard the first click of my camera, he stopped, which caused the ultra-fine Amboseli dust to rise around him. I took five photographs before he continued walking towards the water, and in the next frame, the dust covers the bottom half of the frame, distracting our attention from his tusks. I see the end photograph as an almost biblical scene with Craig appearing to be standing within the clouds. What could be a better setting for one of the largest and most famous elephants on our planet? I want to mention special thanks to Richard Bonham (Big Life Co-Founder, CEO) for facilitating the Big Life Partnership and for hosting me in the Chyulu Hills since I was 18 years old. To Daniel (Big Life Ranger) for being with me every moment of each day and for his dedication to conservation. Without his knowledge, understanding, and excellent tracking skills, this image would never have materialised. And to the whole Big Life Foundation team for their dedicated efforts in securing a future for the entire Ecosystem and the people and wildlife that live within.



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Colossal Craig, 2020
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