Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Africa Geographic Travel
maasai mzee
Photo copyright Shem Compion

By Shem Compion

While in the heart of Maasailand one morning, I  saw this Maasai Mzee (Elder) some 100m away on a walk, and immediately knew I wanted to photograph him.

My Masai friend introduced us and the chatting started. First we talked about family, then cattle, and then he wanted to show me his cattle enclosure. He had a spirit for life that was very evident in his smirk and smile.

Eventually, I managed to get a few frames of him in front of his house. As he heard my clicking camera, his gaze went straight through my lens and into my eyes. I’m not sure who’s soul was ‘stolen’ in this moment, but I knew this was the shot.

He was very frail and looked about 100 years old. The next day I saw him striding near the village, some 8km away…

For more portrait photos, see the gallery in Safari magazine, featuring the famous picture of Boy with the Sapphire Eyes.

Shenton Safaris
Shem Compion

Shem Compion is a naturalist and professional wildlife photographer working throughout Africa. His passion for natural areas and photography has led to a life of travel and creating environmental awareness through his photography. Shem is known for his creative representation of common subjects- leading to a diverse range of subject matter. His images have won national and international awards and his work is published worldwide. He has published three books. Shem also owns and runs a specialised photo safari company; which run photo safaris and workshops. You can see more on of his work at