Photos: Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is one of the few places in the world that you can see wild giraffes and office blocks in the same frame.
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya

Nairobi National park is a unique safari experience just across the road from Nairobi’s Central Business District, and 40 minutes drive from our house. We stayed at Ololo Lodge, a beautiful farmhouse and safari lodge on the opposite side of the park. It was also directly under the flight path for JKIA international airport, so jumbo jets would frequently thunder past overhead. At 120 square kilometres, the park is not very big compared to others in Kenya, and even at Ololo, you can see the tops of the tallest office buildings in Nairobi. There is also a raised railway line that bisects the park, although animals move freely beneath it.

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Photos: Wildlife of Maasai Mara

Naserian the cheetah, looking for prey from the vantage point of a termite mound
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya

I’ve visited the Maasai Mara three times so far during my time in Kenya, and been blown away by the experience each time. It’s the only place where I’ve seen a cheetah kill, watched the great wildebeest migration or had a sunset beer a few metres away from a sleeping crocodile. On two trips, we benefitted from a genuine Maasai guide, Moses, who grew up in the area and knows the landscape and wildlife intimately. And one of the very few up sides of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the animals were thriving and there were very few visitors, aside from a few Nairobi residents like us, so it often felt like we had the whole national park to ourselves.

Here is a selection of my favourite photos from the three visits:

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Photos: On the waterfront at Sunda Kelapa

A dock worker takes a cigarette break on top of a pile of rice sacks
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia

I first visited Indonesia ten years ago, when I was based in UNICEF’s Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok. At the time, I was blown away by the country. Even Jakarta, mostly known as a characterless urban sprawl, impressed me with its little known gems such as the old docks at Sunda Kelapa. I was fortunate to make a local friend, Charlie, who took me there one weekend at sunrise to photograph the wooden boats loading up with cargo. I wrote about the experience at the time in my previous blog, Siamese Dream.

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Photos: People of Malawi

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The Headmaster of a school in Kasungu, where UNICEF launched a drone testing corridor
© UNICEF Malawi/2017/Andrew Brown

While most of my photography for UNICEF focuses on children, I’ve also taken portraits of the adults who work with and care for them in schools, health centres and elsewhere. Malawians are generally friendly and welcoming and make good subjects for photos. Older people in particular have faces full of character, although unlike children they take photos very seriously and have to be coaxed into providing a smile. People dress very smartly, like the headmaster above, even if they live in remote rural areas without water or electricity. Continue reading “Photos: People of Malawi”

Photos: Children of Malawi

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Children laugh at a fishing village beside Lake Chilwa, where I was writing a story
© UNICEF Malawi/2017/Andrew Brown

One of the pleasures of working for UNICEF is travelling to remote parts of Malawi to write stories about children and their families. Sometimes I’m accompanied by a professional photographer but other times I go on my own. This gives me some great opportunities to photograph children. Some of these children are the subjects of stories I wrote, while others are just curious kids from the neighbourhood who came to see what was going on. Like most places in the world, children in Malawi love having their photo taken, But here they see cameras much less often, so are that much more excited. Continue reading “Photos: Children of Malawi”

Photos: Lake Malawi

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A fisherman on a wooden canoe, made from a single hollowed-out true trunk © Andrew Brown/2019/Malawi

Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and forms almost the entire western border of Malawi. The country’s colonial-era name was Nyasaland, literally ‘Lake Land’, and much of its tourism is focused around the lake. It has a unique ecosystem, including the world’s only freshwater cichlids. Standing on the shore at the widest point of the lake, you cannot see the other side. Looking at the sandy beaches, palm trees and small islands, it’s hard to believe that it’s not the ocean. One small giveaway is the fresh water snail shells scattered along the waterline. And the smell of salt is absent from the air.

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Photos: African wildlife

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Vultures fight over the remains of a buffalo, caught by lions the previous day
© Andrew Brown/2017/Zambia

This is a selection of my best wildlife photography, mostly taken in South Luangwa national park, Zambia. The park is around four hours’ drive from Lilongwe and has a huge abundance of wildlife. In the dry season, large animals are forced into the open in search of water. In the rainy season, the lush green landscapes challenge stereotypes of Africa, while migratory birds arrive for mating and nest building.  Continue reading “Photos: African wildlife”

Physical graffiti: Photos from Bangkok’s khlongs

Two young volleyball players pose in front of a graffiti mural beside the canal
© Andrew Brown/2015/Thailand

Another photo project from my time in Thailand (following Ghost Tower). Bangkok used to be known as the ‘Venice of the East’ with canals – or khlongs – providing the main routes through the city. In the Nineteenth Century, wealthy citizens built houses fronting on to the canals, a few of which like Jim Thompson’s House are still there. Times have changed and many of the canals have since been filled in. A few remain and narrow khlong boats provide a faster alternative to congested streets. The only problem is that the khlongs now weave their way through slum districts with poor sanitation, and the waterways double as rubbish dumps and sewers. The smell was unpleasant, to put it mildly. I used to sometimes take the canal boat on my way home from work but I always had to have a scarf handy in case a boat came the other way and I got splashed with a faceful of fetid water.

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Photos: Climbing Bangkok’s Ghost Tower

A view of the Bangkok skyline from an overgrown balcony half way up Ghost Tower
© Andrew Brown/2015/Thailand

Sathorn Unique Tower, to give it its official name, is an unfinished skyscraper in Bangkok, Thailand. Originally planned as a high-rise apartment block, construction stopped around the turn of the century, most likely due to the Asian Financial Crisis (accounts vary, others link it to a high-society murder trial). However, it is much better known to locals by the more sinister name of ‘Ghost Tower’, and once you go inside it is clear why. Overgrown and flooded balconies with broken railings contrast with the shiny new skyscrapers opposite, while dark stairwells thread the dingy interior of the building, full of helpful graffiti like: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” (in blood red paint). Sunset creates an even more dystopian mood, with views reminiscent of Blade Runner or The Windup Girl – a science-fiction novel set in a future Bangkok full of abandoned skyscrapers.

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