A lioness lounges peacefully in the Serengeti. It’s one of the photos by Clinton photographer, Anne Freeman, that will be on display in the North County Branch of the library in Clinton this month.
Serengeti adventure fulfills Clinton woman’s lifetime dream By LILLIE DORCHAK, Contributing Writer Recorder Community Newspapers |
CLINTON — For many of us, an African Safari is the stuff that dreams are made of. It is most true for Clinton native and dedicated photographer Anne Freeman.
“Wild animals are my first love when it comes to photography, and my photo safari in the Serengeti was a dream come true. Capturing an animal’s personality is my goal.”
As a child she was inspired by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show, which easily translated to “my back yard and the fields, woods and streams in and around Clinton, back in the day,” she recalled.
The daughter of Clinton dentist Albert Freeman, who himself was an avid amateur photographer, found photography’s lure after her father’s passing, and wishes they could have shared the interest together.
As a child, Ms. Freeman spent “every waking hour” after school exploring the outdoors with Barbara McClintock, her best friend, and her sisters. The McClintock’s were close friends of the Freemans and Buck McClintock ran a portrait study on Main Street for years, and daughter Barbara became a children’s book author and illustrator.
“You could say that my childhood was the outdoors. Photography is a way to continue that old passion.”
The adventure to find and observe a lion pride started around 6:30 a.m. on a June morning in 2010 in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
The Serengeti is home to Africa’s largest population of wild lions and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, preserving an irreplaceable diversity of wildlife. Sitting at 5,000 feet above sea level, the park enjoys a temperate climate all year, and two seasons: wet and dry. June is midway between both, so animals have plentiful water and food.
It was cool around 6:30 a.m. when 16 American tourists and several tour guides started out in three super-large safari jeeps to observe a pride at the local water hole, Freeman said.
The guides are all experts on African wildlife, with degrees in wildlife management. They are intimately knowledgeable about the park animals and were eager to tell the safari about their precious heritage, Freeman recalled. Tourism is the main support for parks like Serengeti, indeed for the country as a whole.
Sure enough, a pride is at the waterhole with zebras. The lions take no notice of the arrival of “three giant rolling rocks,” the jeeps, because they have been raised around the phenomenon through generations, the guides say. Fifteen feet away, lion cubs have been “parked” with a year-old sibling sitter to play on a tree, while the pride’s matriarch takes her leisure across the road with another female. Several other females start off on a hunt, one using a tourist jeep to creep up on her prey. Out of sight, the kill is made and lionesses return with breakfast for the three-month old cubs.
Throughout the event, the tourists have been standing in the jeep, photographing the pride through the sunroof, safe but within stone’s throw of the animals.
“It was magnificent to see the lions in their natural environment, behaving naturally,” said Freeman.
Today, she continues her pursuit of photography after she leaves her job with the state Department of Education. Her current subject matter includes the seaside with its ever-changing palette of color and movement, Hunterdon County’s rural magic and a closer focus on nature’s forms, including a series on leaves.
Samples of her photos can be seen at her website www.annefreemanimages.com, as well as at Clinton locales, like the Red Mill and Wholesome’s Bagels.
Eighteen of the lion prints will be on display at the Clinton’s North County Branch of the Hunterdon County Library during December. She welcomes any opportunity to display her photos, including local eateries and galleries.
Freeman will present “My Day with a Lion Pride” at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 in the North County Branch Library at 65 Halstead St. She’ll have many photos and videos as well much greater details of her unforgettable experiences on safari. Call the library for reservations at (908) 730-6262.