Norman Asch’s Adventure in Africa

While everyone was wondering what Norman Asch was doing, he was in Africa, shooting pictures for a new wildlife photography series. While Norman Asch was born into immense privilege, his accommodations while shooting were modest. He also went to great lengths to respect the local culture without being condescending or appropriative. He visited several sub-Saharan countries on his visit and experienced unique cultures that are rarely seen by Westerners. Undoubtedly, Norman Asch had fantastic experiences while travelling, but he also experienced some unfortunate moments.

It was Norman’s third week travelling across the sub-Sahara and he found himself in a small village in Botswana. The past two weeks were filled with camping and safaris. In order to get the best and most intimate photos of the animals, he often had to wake up before dawn and hike out into the remote parts of the country. Waking while it is still dark out is difficult, but it is part of the dedication that Asch exhibits regarding his work. After shooting massive animals such as hippos, elephants, giraffes, lions, and the like, he had an idea. Photos of the big animals were plentiful, but they didn’t stand out. Thus, Norman wanted to photograph some of the smaller animals native to Africa.

Thus, he found himself in Botswana. Norman had spent the last few days hiring local men and women to help him find scorpions to use in his latest shoot. He wanted to shoot them close-up to create unique compositions. Once there were enough scorpions for the shoot, the locals delivered him the scorpions – in a metal bucket with a piece of wood over the top. Not the safest method of delivery, but it should hold until morning. Except, it didn’t. In the night, Asch got up for some water and in the dark, knocked over the bucket. Thus, he was forced to spend the entire night crouched atop his bed, for fear of stepping on a scorpion. It wasn’t until morning that he could careful step his way out of the now-infested room.

Despite this comical but terrifying turn of bad luck, Norman was inspired by the scorpion debacle. Viewing the scorpions crawling on the floor provided a spark of inspiration to shoot photos from above, whether he was shooting animals or otherwise. This top-down approach guided the rest of Norman’s visit as well as a plethora of his subsequent work. Upon returning to the United States, his work was unsurprisingly well-received.

Published by normanasch

Naturally, a move to New York City followed as soon as Norman Asch was of age. It was this move that eventually introduced him to the work of Hervey “Ace” and Anna Glickstein, married wildlife photographers who prowled the world in search of the next great shot. They took the young Asch under their wing, and he was photographing snow leopards in Afghanistan and tigers in Siberia—all before his 18th birthday. “I’ve never seen a youngster with such an innate gift. It was a humbling and beautiful experience working with him,” Hervey commented when asked about his prodigy years later. Anna would go a step further in her estimation. “I’m convinced that he’s the reincarnation of Saint Francis or something,” she sighed with admiration. “The animals allowed him to get closer to him than anyone I’ve ever seen."

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