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Photographing a wedding in Tanzania

When people think of weddings in Africa, Dar es Salaam doesn’t usually come to mind, but a wedding in Tanzania doesn’t have to mean Zanzibar. British couple G & T chose White Sands Resort in Dar es Salaam to tie the knot with their closest family and friends and also managed to dodge the rain.

From friendship to love

I love a good love story, and this one is most definitely of the epic kind. G & T’s families had known each other for years before they decided to have their wedding in Tanzania. Having pretty much grown up with ties to each other through playing together during the summer when G and her sister would visit their Grandmother, life wouldn’t have them actually meet again until years later.

All those years though, their family members had kept in contact and that’s when they came to get to know each other again. T was working in Africa and G was studying in the UK but like any good romance, it happens before anyone knows it’s happening. Before long, G had joined T in Freetown and that’s when all hell broke lose.

Sierra Leone, Ebola and Malaria

In the midst of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, friendship turned into love. Freetown is small but big things tend to happen. In 2014, the most widespread Ebola virus outbreak occurred in West Africa and hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Libera. T had been stationed in Freetown as a Football Coach and had been talking with G again for some time long distance before she decided to come and join him to teach First Aid. She did so just as the outbreak hit, and just like the Dustin Hoffman movie of the same name, the outbreak hit hard. G worked tirelessly as a medic at the camp while T tried to keep some normalcy for the kids he was training.

Being in such close parameters with a deadly virus would no doubt bond two people together in a way that most of us can’t begin to imagine. And that bond became even stronger when G contracted a particularly virulent strain of Malaria, which hospitalised her for quite some time as she fought to recover. As she did, T was there with her sitting by her bedside and most likely wishing he’d never asked her to join him because it was now a very real possibility that he could lose her.

But, like any true epic romance, and any love that’s worth anything, this was thankfully just a test. True love is tested in ways we least expect it and when G finally did come out of the danger zone and the horrible effects of the Malaria, their love for each other had grown stronger. They knew now that if they could survive an outbreak of two deadly diseases then they could survive anything.

The proposal and choosing to have their wedding in Tanzania

Since then, they’ve lived in three countries together, survived Malaria and Ebola and they work with kids and animals like the great humanitarians they are. Their life together is like something from an epic romance novel that spans years and continents. It’s meant to be.

T had spent some of his youth growing up in Kenya and feels a strong connection to Africa, so it was no surprise when they decided to hold their wedding in Tanzania. T had proposed to G on a 4 x 4 trip back in the UK, but given their history it made sense that Africa was involved. It was, after all, Africa where their love was forged.

Family and friends flew in to Dar es Salaam from all over the world to help them declare themselves devoted to each other and those that couldn’t be present physically were able to join in via Skype. On an idyllic white sandy beach at a Resort aptly named Hotel White Sands, the rain held off and the wind died down at the perfect moment. The beautiful wooden pier on the shores of White Sands Resort played the beautiful host for their Ceremony and G and T finally said ” I do” and their fairytale wedding in Tanzania was complete.

Only the beginning

In the years that they’ve been together, either in friendship or in love, they’ve accomplished so much together, but it’s really only the beginning. Like the first quarter of a book as rich as a Jane Austen classic, mixed with visually descriptive echoes of the grand writings in Out of Africa, G and T’s story still has much more to show us. I’m honoured to be able to help visually narrate part of this story and I look forward to seeing how the next chapter of their romance unfolds.

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Travel Photography in Australia – The Bush on Film

December is a nice month in Australia. It’s not too hot and not too cold, which makes it perfect for travel photography and capturing the bush on film.

That Time of Year

December and the bush; for me, they just go together. Growing up un Australia meant that Christmas was all about Santa in his board shorts. This special part of the Southern Hemisphere doesn’t see snow in December, but rather, often 40°C, which can mean bush fires. It’s part and parcel of celebrating yule-tide in a warm climate. Hot days, sweaty nights, beach cricket and a whole host of cold cut foods for Christmas lunch with the family, usually while watching the updates on the bush fires on the news.

The Australian bush has that kind of harsh beauty that some have come to find synonymous with Australia itself. Tough, rugged and yet with a serenity that you’ll only discover if you put on your hiking shoes and make tracks into the midst of it. The cicadas and birds all sounding out their own song can at first sound like just a mess of noise. But if you stop and listen to it all, there’s a certain bush symphony that you come to admire. Occasionally, you’ll see a Christmas Beetle flit by your head and then you know it really is Christmas-time.

Bush Walking

Bush walking in Australia is a big part of summer life and a big part of celebrating Christmas. It’s not uncommon for the family to all pack into a car on or around December 1 and “head bush”. My family did this and I admittedly hated it. By the time I was a moody teenager all I wanted to do was hang out in my bedroom with my music and my art and the last thing I wanted to do was have to traipse through the bush singing Christmas songs and looking for that one holy, perfect Christmas Tree. I’d moan and groan and drag my meet and hope I didn’t walk into a spider web. We’d walk so far in sometimes that I wondered if we’d ever find our way out. I just couldn’t understand why we couldn’t BUY a tree.

Now that I’m older, I don’t mind being in the bush. I’m still not a fan of all the spider webs, but I adore the sounds of the animals and the smell of the Eucalypts. Even now, during my travels, I can spot a Eucalyptus a mile away, usually by their smell. To me, it’s a very Australian smell. When I was in San Fransisco I spotted them before the guide book could confirm it. It’s in my blood. I sometimes feel like Eucalyptus is running in my veins. It’s because of this that I love to photograph them.

Australia on 35mm Film

While I didn’t appreciate those bush walks when I was a teenager, it definitely set me up for enjoying nature now. These days, I seek out places that others may simply overlook as they pass by. The light in Australia has a quality that you won’t find anywhere else on earth. You might come close; California came very close, but it’s definitely not identical. Monet would have love Australia; the ever changing light, the beautiful landscape. He would have sat in the same place, painting the same scene over and over and capturing the different stages of the day.

I feel the same when I shoot film in Australia. I find that film captures this quality of light in a completely different way than digital does. While beautiful, the light in Australia can also be very harsh, with long, strong shadows and a strength that burns your eyes. I often get headaches when I am back in Australia because the light can be so strong. In the end though, it’s all part of the experience.

If you make it to Australia, make sure you also do a trip to the bush. It’s never too far away and it’s one of the best authentic experiences Australia has to offer. You’ll be amazed at the amount of wildlife you’ll come across and pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the bush is. There is an official website that you can visit called Bushwalking Australia, which organises bushwalking tours and publishes it’s own magazine. There is even a forum where travellers can connect with each other about walking in the bush. Just remember to take plenty of water with you as the Australian sun is quite the thirst maker.

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If you would like to know more about making travel photography or fine art prints with me, feel free to contact me on my email hello(at)cjeklund.com or through the CONTACT section of this website.

Film developed and scanned by Carmencita Film Lab

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