Many years ago, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Accra, Ghana, a National Geographic photographer named Victor Englebert knocked at my door. Someone had referred him to me. He was in Ghana to do a series of photo children’s books and I invited him to stay with me. It was the start of a friendship we have maintained over the years. Victor was a true inspiration for me. His story was amazing: how he started as a waiter in Belgium, took a motorcycle trip the long way through Africa, from north to south, returned to Brussels where he was given the key to the city and his job back as a waiter. He eventually made it to the States, where he worked during the day and apprenticed with a Life photographer in the evenings. He also went to Washington D.C. to show the editors of the National Geographic his African photos. They were impressed, but they reminded him that they used color and his pictures were b&w. So Victor returned to Africa, traveled with the Tuaregs in the Sahara Desert, and had his first of many stories for Geographic. His work among nomads became his specialty, and many of his pictures were reprinted in books. National Geographic wanted him to do more stories based in Africa, but Victor wanted to expand, especially after he married a woman from Colombia. South America fascinated him and he traveled to Ecuador, Peru, and other countries, capturing how people lived in villages and on the plains. I joined him once on a trip to the llanos and the Guajira Desert in Colombia and wound up writing an article that accompanied Victor’s photographs for the Spanish edition of National Geographic. Traveling with Victor was an experience I’ve never forgotten; I learned to appreciate how he saw things, how he protected his equipment, how he ingratiated himself among the local people. You can see some of his incredible work by going to his website: www.victorenglebert.com. You can also try to find one of his books called Winds, Sand & Silence: Travels with Africa’s Last Nomads–Time named it a Top 10 Best Book of the Year.
But—get this—if you have any interest in traveling with Victor, learning about photography from one of the true masters of the art, he’s decided to take six people on a trip around Ecuador. This isn’t a trip for the casual traveler—this is an adventure, and an opportunity to have your life changed, if photography on this level is what you have ever dreamed of doing. I don’t make recommendations lightly, but I’ll just say this: if my ambition was to become a world-class adventure photographer, good enough to work for major magazines, I’d jump at the opportunity to study with Victor Englebert.
I took a look at the photo workshop he is offering at http://mediaworkshops.weebly.com/ and I thought for what you might get out of it, it was very fairly priced (around $200 a day for 10 days, excluding airfare and room). When Victor sent this to me, I thought I would write this blog about it and mention it on my website. This is not for everyone. It’s for the dreamer, the believer, the adventurer. I doubt that he’ll do this very often. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But don’t just take my word for it. Go to his website. Check him out. Thank me later.