Kili 71 - Day 5 - Karanga to Barafu hike

This is kinda hard.

It was easier to shine a light on other people and their incredible photographs, but I feel insanely inadequate sharing my own. I bought a new camera about a week before I departed for Africa and magical thinking told me that this only-marginally-better-than-my-previous-camera would be the ticket to Becoming A Better Photographer; somehow I’d devour the stack of library books, I’d bask in the glow of my more talented friends, I’d hold aloft my shiny red Nikon Coolpix L820 and fireworks would burst forth from the lens.

Instead, I realize that I’m only beginning this journey, just one barely damp toe in the water. To be fair, over the past month, I did actually learn quite a bit about cameras (in particular, mine) – in line with the badge requirements, I can now wax eloquent about the parts of the camera, how the automatic scene settings correspond to manual settings, how to correct for over- and under-exposure, how to adjust for depth of field, how to use the shutter button for locking focus and exposure, how aperture and shutter speed work together, when I need to use a tripod or stable surface, how to freeze action, how to create blur, the advantages of having an optical viewfinder, how to minimize camera shake, how to adjust for shutter lag, and about a billion more things.

But it’s going to take a lot more than five library books, a few informal interviews, several weeks of shooting, and a bit of online research to become a better photographer, so I think I’m finally going to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – take a photography class!

Technically, I’ll finish with my badge requirements this week (once I share with you the exciting world of the American photographers I’ve been studying), but that’s the beauty of this project – some of these badges (most of them, I suspect) will stay with us for much, much longer than the month we’ve allotted to work on them. Case in point: Brooke is now a total bee nerd, as you’ve probably seen from her most recent post, and I think those little buzzers snuck their way into her heart for a long, long time.

So I’m going to give this one some time and elbow grease. It feels weird to share these photographs (in order to meet badge requirement #1), knowing that they’re like a child’s fingerpaintings in the timeline of the growth I hope to achieve as a photographer, but these are an honest representation of what the past month’s been about for me…at least visually.

A Series Of Photographs That Would Serve As A Design Motif In Craft Projects

This exercise was totally fun – it forced me to look at things around me (in my home, near my office, in a nearby park, from a tiny plane over Tanzania) in a completely different way. I noticed shadows, lights, the earth’s folds – textures, patterns, and colors, rather than objects, people, and landscapes. 





Pictures That Express One Idea

I took 900 photos while I was in Africa for two weeks…that’s a LOT of ideas expressed!

Lion Landscape

Wildebeests Crossing


Pictures Of Things Happening In Your Community

I went for a photo hike in Griffith Park with Ashley West Leonard, who along with Laurie Scavo, taught me importance of assessing natural light (and the direction of that light) when doing outdoor portraiture. Naturally, the only person I photographed on this hike was a guy with his back to us, but still – I learned something.




Pictures Of People Doing Things Together

This was surprisingly hard – I’m apparently naturally inclined to take photos of people alone (especially when it shows the scale of the natural environment), of landscapes, of animals, of things – but rarely of people together. Something to ponder…

Kili 67 - Day 4 - cell phone silhouettes at sunset

Kili 05 - Day 1 - Trail porters


All photographs by Shawnté Salabert


  1. Okay – that’s just ridiculous. I like your photos as much as I like your writing. Which, as you know, is rather a lot. You’re an amazing creative talent. As someone who has also taken up photography recently and ‘doing okay’ with it – these are just astonishing. You rock. As usual.

  2. Thank you, thank you – you are too kind! We’re our own worst critics, right?

  3. Exactly. However, as an impartial, independent observer, my considered and objective opinion is ‘wow’.

  4. I’ve said it elsewhere, but am in total agreement with senôr Dubber. You’re a creative genius and a big inspiration xx

  5. You’re words are as magical as your photos. I pinch myself sometimes – this amazing person is my daughter and I love her beyond measure.

  6. Aw, mom – thank you so much!!! xoxoxo

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