You may not be subscribed to Chris's Mailing list so we thought you may like to read his final 2022 update. Of course, there is a commercial element but it is well worth a read, and certainly, the images are spectacular. We know Chris and Monique very well and know behind the scenes how passionate they are about conservation and how much they are doing behind the scenes - two great advocates for Wildlife and bloody good image creators ... please read on
Final Quarter 2022 - Salt and Spray vs Dirt and Dust
This year has certainly been a year of varying fortune with some fairly unproductive expeditions at the beginning of the year, to several truly outstanding ones to finish off 2022.
Spending roughly half my time on land, and the other half on or in the ocean, delivers many different opportunities by way of the look and feel of my imagery.
One is essentially a world dominated by shades of blue, and the other an ensemble of browns. The atmospherics are also entirely different with salt and spray contrasting with dust and haze.
In any given year I endeavor to capture somewhere around five new works to add to my fine art collection. This will be the result of roughly 100 days spent on the ocean, and roughly 100 in wild places on land.
By way of looking at statistics, I am also five times more likely to take an exceptional image on land than on the ocean, simply due to the difficulties and challenges involved when working at sea.
So, what do I look for when choosing a new work to include in my portfolio?
‘The Final Act’ https://www.chrisfallows.com/the-final-act/
Firstly, the image must instantly grab me where I feel that excitement, knowing it is exceptional.
If you have to find a way to like it, it’s not worth including, and if I look back through my library of work, I continually find myself coming back to the same moments, the same first picks I made when editing several thousand images from a given expedition.
Secondly, I look for a work that I know is incredibly difficult to capture.
This could be by way of a truly special individual animal; an incredible piece of behavior; the difficulty in terms of discomfort, danger or luck needed in the creation of the image; and finally, the likelihood I would have of being able to create something similar again.
I also consider the artistic component of the work, and what it is that sets it apart from a normal wildlife photograph, portrait or identification shot.
It is surprisingly difficult to create a very simple, minimalistic image with just a few core ingredients that your eye instantly relates to as being pleasing or powerful.
How did I use the background by way of clouds, landscapes, grasses, rocks, cracked earth, waves and reflections?
Does everything combine in a complimentary way?
To create a strong overriding artistic element in the work’s composition is vital.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, does the work have meaning and what is it’s story?
Is it the last ever photograph taken of a massive breaching great white; or one of just 30 remaining great elephant tuskers?
Is it testament to the power of conservation and the resultant recovery of the humpback whale population, or is it an incredible moment symbolizing a mutual trust between myself and my far more capable subjects?
If all of these components combine, then I have a work worth considering.
I am therefore thrilled that I have three new works worth including in my collection for 2022.
A Natural Selection
When in the darkest of nights, the lions’ roar portends the coming of death, they stand bellicose, warriors through and through.
One-ton buffalo, gladiators, stand as one forming an impassable fortress of horns at the advance of their nemesis. Under siege they counter the danger, and when they move, they do so united, an impenetrable sea of muscle and a phalanx of horns.
To lead amongst such an ensemble of combatants takes a special individual, chosen through a complicated process of both age, bravery and genetic disposition.
The progression by which a species evolves to the point of being the most adaptive, resilient and successful takes decades, centuries and even millennia.
It is a process of Natural Selection where success breeds upon success.
Stage lit, this magnificent, proud and brave leader stands alert and defiant in a golden cape of dust. She is testament to the processes of succession where in her footfall, her herd appears apparition like, as if ghosts and vintages of her former self hewn together in a complicated wake of progression.
Chosen not only by her herd as a pathfinder, but also by her genetic destiny, she is one.
Exhibition: 173cm x 119cm (68" x 46.8")
Large: 146cm x 101cm (57.5" x 40")
Classic: 118cm x 81cm (46.5" x 32")
Available Editions - 12 in each size
View ‘A Natural Selection’ here. https://www.chrisfallows.com/a-natural-selection/
The Sisters’ Artemis
There are few things in nature with as much deadly beauty as the movement of intent lionesses as they synchronously marry muscle and fur in a gait of predatory prowess.
They truly personify Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt.
Exhibition: 173cm x 117cm (68" x 46")
Large: 146cm x 99cm (57.5" x 39")
Classic: 118cm x 80cm (46.5" x 31.5")
Available Editions - 12 in each size
View ‘The Sisters’ Artemis’ and read the full narration here. https://www.chrisfallows.com/the-sisters-artemis/
The Sword of Santiago
In Ernest Hemmingway’s classic novel, The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is the grizzled old fisherman whose suffering and torment of enduring eighty-four days without catching a fish, is spectacularly ended by his hooking of a huge marlin.
For days he drifts further and further from home as he fights the unfatiguing fish.
Finally, he subdues his quarry and secures the trophy alongside his boat for the arduous journey back to shore. During the night, sharks attack and the marlin is destroyed. All that remains is the marlin’s head as evidence of his epic battle.
Exhibition: 173cm x 119cm (68" x 46.8")
Large: 146cm x 101 cm (57.5" x 40")
Classic: 118cm x 81.5cm (46.5" x 32")
Available Editions - 12 in each size
View ‘The Sword of Santiago’ and read the full narrative here. https://www.chrisfallows.com/the-sword-of-santiago/
Other Notable 2022 Highlights
There are a few other highlights from 2022 worth mentioning.
May saw an amazing encounter 10 km out to sea and roughly 100km east of the Southern Tip of Africa, with eight orcas hunting a thresher shark.
Once the 3 meter long shark was subdued and in part consumed, the pod of orcas allowed us to accompany them for nearly 35 nautical miles where we were able to observe and photograph them as they travelled. From rest, to play, to hunting, it was a wonderful and fascinating encounter.
In June and July we undertook many offshore ocean expeditions, heading out upwards of 30 nautical miles off the South Western tip of Africa in search of pelagic sharks, cetaceans and many of the great sea birds.
This is hard work, often with rough seas and a true sense of adventure.
Whilst the cetaceans were generally quiet, we had some truly extraordinary encounters with Mako sharks, including some very good-sized 8-10ft animals. When you are alone with these in the water, and have four circling you simultaneously, it can be a bit sporty!
I paid particular emphasis on composition and focused on shooting into the light. I was given many opportunities and I hope the fruits of my labor highlights the magnificence of these jet fighters of the Ocean.
August and September saw two extended trips to Namibia and Zimbabwe, our regular haunts with outstanding fine art opportunities usually in abundance.
At this time of the year it is stiflingly hot, dusty and dry, but prefect for the harsh arid conditions I seek out.
Whilst my intention was to build on my body of work with elephants in Namibia, it was a fantastic encounter with a pride of 5 lioness that delivered my best opportunity, and where I captured ‘The Sisters’ Artemis’.
Whilst the nearly 10,000km round trip drive to get to our destination, complete with dealing with corrupts border officials, is tiring and trying, Zimbabwe’s people and Mana Pools National Park is always special.
Whilst I did not create any truly exceptional works here this time around, there was one piece of behavior and the resultant image worth elaborating on.
There is an architecturally spectacular Fig Tree I have scouted out many times in the 10 years, hoping it would one day present something either under it, or in it, that would be worth photographing.
On this particular day, a small breeding herd of elephants was essentially baited under the fabulous fig by a raucous troop of baboons who where messily feeding on the tree’s fruit above them.
The wilder the baboons went about their feeding, more and more fruit would drop down with the elephants competing to quickly consume the spoils.
Everything looked good through the lens but on later review, the herd of elephants simply did not form into eye-catching groupings under the tree. It is always so much harder to create a pleasing work with several animals as opposed to just one.
We returned the next day, hoping for a repeat having now explored all possible angles to maximise my opportunity. Just as with fishing, you can’t expect to catch yesterday’s fish today, and there was neither ape nor pachyderm to be seen.
From Zimbabwe’s heat it was off to the azure seas off Mexico in November.
In a nutshell, everything that had been challenging up until this point in 2022, was turned around in Magdalena Bay with the mightiest of gamefish, the striped marlin, being the catalyst of change, and not to mention where I was able to capture ‘The Sword of Santiago’.
Quite simply stars aligned and we were gifted eight perfect days of weather, a team from Cabo Shark Dive who could not have worked or tried harder for us, and then most importantly, monumental action, and I haven’t used that word lightly.
The full blog on this experience can be read here.
Exhibitions and Events
The last quarter of 2022 saw us exhibiting for the first time in both Seoul, Korea and The Louvre, Paris.
I was also invited to participate as an expert panelist for the British Council on an important and relevant discussion – Mapping The Post Pandemic (Art) World.
Add links and images
As the year draws to a close, it is also a time to reflect.
One of the year’s loudest alarm bells for me is that, for the first time in 31 years, I would not have seen or dived with a great white shark in South Africa.
These animals have been such an integral part of both Monique’s and my life, and were the cornerstone of every opportunity I have had on the planet.
As such, it is with great sadness that I reflect on their disappearance from all but a small handful of locations along our South African shores. It is as loud a warning call as any to the changes and losses we are suffering to our Planet’s incredible biodiversity.
Personally, it serves to galvanize our efforts to raise the plight of the great white and other Natural Icons by visually celebrating them and telling their story as it is, in order to create awareness, inspire and conserve.
We are resolute in that in order to save wild places and wildlife, our goal is to purchase, protect and restore habitat as being the best course of action through the funds raised from the sale of our fine art work.
The movement towards more and more people appreciating the natural world is growing exponentially, and for many, being reminded of the wonders of our Planet in the form of fine art in their homes and offices is growing in popularity.
In closing, we are truly grateful for the opportunity we have to share our narrative and work with you, and look forward to bringing you new works in 2023 with trips to India, Botswana, Tanzania, Maldives, West Africa and Kenya on the menu for the first half of the year.
We would like to thank a few people in particular, most notably Michael Markland, Damon Crowhurst, Joy Lopez, Hendrik Jan Laseur, Dave Cox, Charlie Wright, and all of you who have either supported us by way of fine art purchases, or simply through words of encouragement, advice or support.
We would also like to thank so many of you who have reached out with offers for exhibitions, speaking opportunities and strategic partnerships.
With little over three weeks to go before the curtain falls on 2022, I can only hope that I will be gifted the sight of a great white toothy grin as a Christmas present and happy end to the year.
Chris, Monique, and the team at Chris Fallows Photography