When I was eleven, I aimed the Kodak digital camera I got as a birthday present out of the moving car and toward a nearby giraffe, snapping a bunch of photos as I went.

Among the otherwise forgetful photos of ungulates was one picture of a giraffe, its head bending gracefully into the frame against a complete backdrop of wispy green grass, looking straight at the camera. To my eleven-year-old eyes, it was perfect. And, it was completely unexpected, not nearly what I remember seeing though the viewfinder. It felt like a gift from the giraffe.

I no longer have the photograph, but since then a camera has been an integral part of how I see things. I’m forever on the hunt for more surprises and gifts from the simple things in life. These are a few of my favorites.


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Mushroom’s Edge

 A slug sits atop a mushroom in the middle of drying pine needles in Newlands Forest, South Africa.

Stepping Out

From the dark room and into the sunlight, a boy steps out from his rondavel in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

A Midnight Disturbance

A meerkat watches festive guests pass by late after hours during the Zoolights festival in Chicago.

Bug on an Onion Flower

Surprised by the legs on this bug as well as the floral version of onions (which she’d never grown before), Tara snapped this photo in her garden in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Maybe Goodbye

During one of the last, warm days of summer a gull flies into the sunset along Camps Bay Beach, South Africa.