Kenya 2010: Seeing with Intuition

Whenever intuition intersects with cognition, my photographic productivity suffers. 
I am drawn towards nature because I feel it, think it, and understand it. The complexities inherent in the natural world are not complexities to me; they are models based on interactions that coincide with my world view. To me, the patterns I observe in nature make sense, are logical, and form the basis in which I understand the world. To me, nature is intuitive. Because I have both an emotional and intellectual connection with the natural world, I see patterns and light in the environment in ways that I do not see anywhere else. This is why I am drawn to nature photography.

In contrast, when I over think the photographic process, I lose my ability to see. 
Photographers often claim to pre-visualize an image prior to shooting, and this is a skill on which I depend. However, this is not a cognitive exercise, it is intuitive... I am there, I feel my surrounding, and I know my goal. When I leave my comfort zone, my reflexive ability to see and to be in the moment dissipates. On these occasions my photography must evolve or it suffers. 
Here in lies the great challenge. I love to travel, explore our world, and interact with an environment that defines "the place." However, as soon as that place is defined by its human inhabitants, I lose my vision. It's not an irrational fear of humans, it's my discomfort with the voyeur in us all.
Voyeur... watcher... describer... interpreter... 
I do not like to be watched, nor do I want others to define me, yet this is what we do when we travel. We see their lives in their place and try to make sense of how they live. And I, with my camera, am the voyeur... the watcher... the describer... the interpreter. 
To some, the ability to mingle among our own is a source of comfort. These gifted photographers can wander through a crowd, relax their subjects and elicit a smile or capture that magic moment. This is their comfort zone, and when they are in the zone,... their photography is not cognitive... it is intuitive.
Today's images are of the Samburu people, and they are the indigenous inhabitants of Northern Kenya. The Samburu are a lesser known ethnic group whose connections point back to the Masai. Like their relatives to the south, the Samburu are semi-nomadic shepherds. Cattle is their currency, their measure of wealth, and their livelihood. These proud warriors wander among the lions, live off the land, and survive unimaginable hardships. The day we visited these people we learned about the drought, the collapse of their economy, and the challenges of their lives. 
I could not escape that feeling that haunts me when I travel among other humans... How can they be so happy when they have so little? I try not to be the voyeur, the watcher, the interpreter... I try to live in the moment, but I can't escape from my thoughts... they have so little and I have so much. I was not in the moment, I was thinking too much. In contrast, Tamy was there... she was in that intuitive place; you can see it in the girl's eyes above and the smirk below. My images are compelling, but I do not have what it takes to produce the image you see below. I am lucky to have a partner who can mingle among our own... I think I'll stick with nature.
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