Vergenoeg, Namibia 2013
ph. David Yarrow
This communion in the desolation of the Namib Desert required a great deal of logistical preparation and a great deal of luck. I needed to find a model who was brave and game enough to invest sufficient time with the rehabilitated cheetah to gain her trust and affection. Whilst the cheetah’s sensibilities hint at human familiarity, she is still a wild animal and a ruthless predator. The girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo committed herself admirably to the task and at the end of seventy two hours they had forged a female bond that is implicit in this shot. Nudity in African wildlife photographs can sometimes appear gratuitous and exploitative but I hope this image simply conveys grace, beauty and the power of trust. A portrayal of sensuality rather than sexuality is testing and differentiates collectable photographers from solid photographers. I will leave others to make that judgement, but in the meantime, I will treasure this shot, as will indeed the girl and the founders of the Naankuse reserve that raised the cheetah.
An amazing effort to bring this shot together!