“My camera allowed nature to speak to me. And it was my privilege to listen” - Sebastiao Salgado.
Rachel Ambrose was born in Mbala, in a small farming town in northern Zambia and she grew up in East Africa between Kenya and Tanzania. Surrounded by nature she learned to intuitively interpret the wilderness and read its stories.
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” - Ansel Adams.
At a young age she listened to her family story, the story of her roots; a child of diaspora, her ancestors sailed in Dhows from Syria, artists and linguist from Switzerland, to the great crusaders of Spain, an ambulance driver of the Resistance in France, an engineer in the Royal Air Force of Britain, opera singers, La Vie En Rose. Her grandfather Albert Hannah Ghaui sitting outside his red brick house with his pet Leopards Romeo and Juliet. Stories and the art of storytelling were a gift passed from one generation to the next with a fair bit of embellishment.
"One of the greatest gifts we can give to another generation is our experience, our wisdom, the wisdom of an older generation.'" - Wisdom, Desmond Tutu.
A graduate from Leeds University, a student of Postcolonial Literature, Rachel trained as a professional photographer mentored by Cape Town's fashion and fine art photographers, Marc Stanes, Dewald Daniels, Jan Verboom and Cameron Macdonald.
In 2016 Rachel, led by her faith in everything possible, her defiant courage, and her life's purpose to document stories, embarked on a remarkable journey from writer/photographer to filmmaker. Rachel founded a production company in northern Tanzania. Alama Film and Photography was built with a vision to train talented Tanzanian photographers, videographers and editors, to inspire young creative professionals to follow their dreams, and in turn inspire the growth of the creative industry in Tanzania.
In The Name of Your Daughter, directed by Giselle Portenier, produced and filmed by the Alama crew is a story of hope and courage following the journey of young girls fleeing their homes and communities to escape Female Genital Mutilation. In The name of your Daughter has won several documentary awards whilst touring the international festivals. It has been screened on BBC Storyville and shown in 4 parliaments Australia, UK, The Netherlands and in the province of Alberta.
“When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending.” - Dare To Lead, Brene Brown.
Rachel and the Alama crew have filmed for the Barbara May Foundation for 4 years documenting the devastating stories of women living with fistula and the complications of rural childbirth in Africa. The Fistula Surgical Training videos, produced with Dr. Andrew Browning and FIGO, train surgeons throughout the world in complex reconstructive surgery helping surgeons perform operations in developing countries to heal women suffering from devastating birth-related injuries. Her videos have enabled Dr. Swanson and his medical team to inform and train medical teams throughout Tanzania in NICU care to save the lives of critically ill babies. Protecting wildlife and landscapes has been a family born passion. The education video made for The Nature Conservancy and partners, informs nomadic farmers on community born solutions to climate change, population growth, overgrazing, to protect the vast expanses of the northern rangelands in Tanzania.
She has photographed Susie Crippen, documenting the story of Susie’s 4 Dress from the Kitenge market’s of Kampala to the slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. People have been her inspiration, the lines on faces telling a story, a journey. In recent years Rachel returned to her childhood inspiration, wildlife, and wilderness. A fascination with the vast expanses and power of the African landscapes, people and wildlife, led her on Safari with Eric Bruun, documenting the luminescence of early morning light, the wilderness waking to a new dawn, a journey from the mountain mists of Rwanda to the savannah of Tanzania, from Kenya to Rwanda, capturing some of nature’s curious and magnificent creatures.
Rachel’s photographs capture people in their most honest moments. Her photographs have been published in TELVA magazine, MUSE magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, Times UK, and Spanish newspapers. She is continually inspired by nature and stories. Her documentaries allow women to find their voices in the fight for positive change against gender inequality and domestic violence. She gains insight every day by listening to nature and to the wisdom of the people she meets along her way.
“Documenting stories introduces me to fascinating, talented and innovative people with inspiring ideas, people who are driven by a purpose to contribute to making our world a more equal and thriving environment. I am grateful every day to be connected with people, from a diverse array of professions, who are driven by similar visions and goals: to make this world a better place for our futures.
If we can all do something in our lives, I would ask everyone to live every day, every moment, to travel, be inspired by the kindness of people, be amazed by the indescribable beauty of wildlife, people and landscapes. Use the gift you have been given to help people, inspire people to save our beautiful earth. Listen to nature and learn from the wisdom of the kind people you meet along your journey.” - Rachel Ambrose
"Be yourself, ultimately be yourself" - Wole Soyinka.