An excerpt from Safari as a Way of Life by Jennifer New
Becoming a photojournalist who covered wars was not an improbable jump for Dan. Plenty of photographers, some of them war correspondents, had sat around the Eldon family dinner table over the years. Dan grew up hanging out in the offices of the Kenyan newspaper, The Nation, and tagging along with his mother, who wrote restaurant reviews and features for them. Just a few years earlier, while hitchhiking in South Africa, he’d watched photographers at work covering the huge antiapartheid rallies. And on two different trips to Mozambique, he’d witnessed the effects of one of the continent’s longest civil wars.
Dan was a traveler. An artist. And an African. Becoming a photojournalist brought all of these together. The fact that his photography might ultimately help others by exposing a massive and yet largely overlooked tragedy only made the work more urgent to him. Hundreds of people were dying every day in Somalia, and yet it wasn’t registering in the international media. Could a young, unpublished, and self-taught photographer make a difference? Dan was willing to find out.
During his last year of life, Dan was among a small cadre of journalists who alerted the world to a major famine in Somalia. As many as 1,000 people a day were starving to death when Newsweek, Time, and many international daily newspapers began to pick up Dan’s images in 1992. According to his bureau chief at Reuters, Dan shot some of the finest images of the horrors of the tragedy that was then Somalia.
“For Dan, as for me, the greatest joy was in taking pictures of people. Not furtive distant shots taken in hopes that “the subject” wouldn’t notice they’d be snapped. No, a joyful encounter that resulted in them posing willingly as part of the building of a relationship. It shows in the pictures, and it remains in the memory as a respectful, dignified encounter.” –Mike Eldon