Santa Barbara photographer produces coffee table book revealing fauna and flora
Andrew Antone has found a way to bring Africa right into your living room.
The Santa Barbara photographer is doing that through his coffee table book, “Africa.” It was released Oct. 7.
“I think the most important thing is seeing the beauty and the realization that we need to prioritize conservation and preservation. It doesn’t get much attention from this part of the world. It is a matter of two generations before these animals will be extinct,” Mr. Antone, who has been a member of and donor to the Santa Barbara Zoo for over 15 years, told the News-Press.
“Africa” celebrates the diversity of the animal kingdom with details and vignettes about the world’s most endangered animals. Through Mr. Antone’s stories and photos, readers get to traverse the waterways of the Okavango Delta, Botswana and the grasslands of Chobe National Park, Botswana, following the footsteps of lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes and zebras — to name a few. There’s a short respite in Nairobi, Kenya, to get up close and personal with two of the largest mammals in the world — elephants and giraffes.
Through “Africa,” readers can experience the vast and endless savannahs of the Serengeti, Tanzania, in a hot air balloon with a bird’s-eye view of the great migration.
As part of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Adventure Travel program, this expedition to Africa was originally slated for the spring 2020 as the honeymoon for Mr. Antone and his husband Patrick, a volunteer-turned-employee of the Santa Barbara Zoo, who has been supporting the zoo’s mission since age 12.
The trip was delayed by the pandemic, but Mr. Antone and his husband found it was worth the wait for an adventure that wildly exceeded their expectations.
“We got the opportunity to go on this trip that is usually only for board members and donors,” Andrew Antone told the News-Press. “It was unbelievable the quantity and diversity of animals we were seeing. And we were the first tourists back after the pandemic.
“On the second or third day of the trip, we were looking through photos and seeing what a special thing we had,” Mr. Antone said. “It was a great opportunity to bring Africa to those that can’t go there. That was the first intent to raise the awareness that if we don’t prioritize conservation and preservation, it is a matter of a couple generations and it will disappear.”
Photographed in March 2022, these one-of-a-kind photographs depict a moment in time when the world started to open up again after a global pandemic. Flora and fauna have flourished in the absence of humans, once again reclaiming the land that is the lifeblood of these magnificent creatures.
The News-Press asked Mr. Antone what the experience was like photographing for the book.
“Some were adrenaline rich. It was about trying to experience it and be present, but also get the shot,” he said. “There were a couple close calls getting close to animals.
“We were in national parks other than in Nairobi, Kenya,” Mr. Antone said. “The animals are in their natural, wild habitat. We were in open air Jeeps with no doors and windows. We were very exposed. There was a bit of thrill early on in the proximity to the animals.
“We had the most amazing guides. These are people that spend their lives training and learning to be guides. They are masterful at getting us right up to the animal. As long as we are in the Jeep, the animals don’t see us as a threat. It’s amazing to be that close.”
The Santa Barbara Zoo is currently featuring an exhibition for the book featuring 32 giclées from the book. Some of the photos are in black and white. All are matted and framed, high end photography. The exhibit will be in the zoo’s Discovery Pavilion through Jan. 31.
“It’s a beautiful oversized, coffee table book and makes a great gift for the holiday season,” Mr. Antone said. “It’s a comprehensive guide to the majority of animals in Africa. It’s a documentary, and there is no editing (of the photos) other than color correction. The idea is to convey the experience as we experienced it.”