A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch Stevie Mann, landscape photographer and lifelong friend Will’s. If you’ve spent time perusing the galleries on our site, there’s every chance that you are familiar with the work of Stevie Mann.
Since the two of them went to school together in Nairobi, Stevie has had a passion for shooting landscape photography and has also shot for properties including the likes of Bale Mountains Lodge and Kichaka Ruaha. Here’s what he had to say:
Simon: Can you tell me about growing up / life in Nairobi / what was Will like at school?
Stevie: Growing up in Nairobi was wonderful. It was a very different place then, much emptier. Academically, Will was several streams above me so we never had the opportunity to get up to much mischief in class, although what I do remember about Will at school was that he had a scything rugby tackle: you had no idea you were going to be hit until after the event!
Simon: How did you get into photography? What’s your journey been like? What has being a photographer been like?
Stevie: I got into photography actually with Will, at school, where there was a wildlife photography club as an ECA. We were blessed enough to be at a school which was quite literally across the road from the Nairobi National park; and every Friday afternoon we’d leap into the school’s ancient battered landcruiser and go tearing around the park with a fantastically enthusiastic teacher looking for lion and rhino. It was brilliant.
Over half terms and during the school holidays we’d go camping on the Mara River. Again, it was a very different world then. There can’t have been more than a dozen camps and lodges in the whole of the Mara – we felt like we had the whole wilderness to ourselves. Those were formative times for both of us.
Simon: How do you differentiate from photography as a hobby and photography as an occupation / career?
Stevie: Thankfully for me there is no difference. I love what I do, and most of the time it doesn’t feel like work!
Simon: Talk me through the process of a nice-looking landscape shot? I.e. how do you suss a location / time to go and so on.
I do prefer, like most people, early and late light. I like to compose landscape images in a way which has things of interest from the foreground through to the far distance.
Simon: What do you get up to on a spare day?
Stevie: Shooting landscapes!
Simon: Any advice (or hope) for enthusiastic amateur photographers?
Stevie: Stick at it: it’s a terrible cliché but practice really does make perfect
Simon: What’s next?
Stevie: I’m a few months away from completing the shooting for a book I was commissioned to illustrate, on the indigenous cattle breeds of Africa which had been an exciting project.
I’m engaged on a long term project on African landscapes, which will take me years to complete but which is a wonderfully rewarding experience. Otherwise, for me, the backbone of what I do is luxury hotel photography, especially for companies and individuals who are involved in the protection of wilderness areas.
This industry is blessed to have some wonderfully passionate hoteliers as custodians of amazing conservation spaces, and as time goes by I gravitate more and more to partnerships where I can bring my skills to bear to help fill rooms for people who make a tangible difference in their conservation efforts.