A career as a wildlife photographer must be filled with many adventures. You’re always traveling and exploring new places. You interact with animals most people would love to see in person.
But for wildlife photographer Gren Sowerby, he had an unusual experience in September 2019, in which he captured a photograph of a lion yawning while on a safari in Kenya. Then, the lion smiled and winked at him. Sowerby probably had to make sure he wasn’t imagining things, but once he shared the stunning photographs with the rest of the world, they went viral.
His Career As A Wildlife Photographer
Sowerby, a native of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, UK, discovered a passion for photography 40 years ago while he was taking photos of his daughter. He said, “I got the bug. It has stayed with me all this time and it’s the thought of getting better images that keeps me going.”
For the past 37 years, Sowerby has worked extensively as a wildlife photographer. He travels across the globe, taking pictures of wildlife, landscapes, and portraits of all kinds of animals. He loves finding the perfect image of his subject. It’s what makes him happiest, and he couldn’t imagine having another career.
Over the course of his career, Sowerby has learned the trick to capturing an animal, like a lion, at just the right moment. “The first thing you need is a good tracker for lions. I use a Maasai guide, called Ntimama Mpoe. His local knowledge in the Maasai Mara (in Kenya) is amazing,” Sowerby said. “The time of day is important, too. They’re much more active early in the morning and evening when they hunt. During the daytime, you will get a sleepy cat!”
But Sowerby warns others to be careful when you’re attempting to photograph wild animals. After all, you’re invading their natural habit. You don’t want to cause any trouble. He commented, “Keep very quiet and try not to disturb them. Give them space and have lots of patience.”
Capturing The Yawning (And Winking) Lion
In September 2019, Sowerby was really excited when he saw a lion while on a safari in Maasai Mara, Kenya. He said, “The King of the Jungle is always something you’ve got to capture, and I’m so pleased I got the shot.” But he probably wasn’t expecting the photography session to turn humorous.
The lion had just hunted, and he was with a lioness. They were resting when the lion started yawning. Sowerby used that perfect opportunity to take a photo of the magical beast. Then, the lion let out a huge roar, smiled and seemingly winked at Sowerby. The photographer was taken back by the exchange. He couldn’t believe what he just witnessed, but he was happy to share the remarkable photos with an audience.
Viral Nature Photos
Sowerby shared his humorous-yet-stunning, photographs on his professional Facebook page. Several Facebook users commented on the surreal experience. Pippa Nichol commented, “As always, amazing! So glad you lived to tell the tale or rather post the pics!” Dorothy Chapman added, “Just as well it was an after-dinner yawn, otherwise you could have been the main course.” Finally, Beverly Duke commented, “How majestic. We’re so fortunate to be on your journeys with you. Thank you.”
Sowerby still couldn’t believe he managed to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moment. He commented, “The excitement is always there in Africa. It’s hard to explain the feeling, as you are excited, but at the same time you are trying to concentrate on camera settings and composition!”
Seeing his photographs, we can all agree Sowerby accomplished his goal. He was in the right place at the right time. We’re thankful we now have the incredible photos.
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