Trying to capture a person’s personality in a photograph is the essence of what we try to do. But to take a photo with a 50mm lens we need to invade the person’s space, to get right into their face so that every detail of their face is clear.
Photographing Children in many African countries may seem very easy due to their excitement when they see a camera, they will happily let you take photo after photo so they can look at their image and laugh with their friends! As rewarding as this is emotionally, it will usually doesn’t result in a great portrait. We used a fixed Canon 50 mm lens and having the aperture down to 1.8 limits the amount of light and excited kids will usually jump and run and grab each other, creating a blurred image. So to get the intense photos we learnt to be very patient, after a while the excitement wears off and then you’ll get the real character shining through. On the otherhand sometimes you just get lucky and a quick shot will get you pure emotion that will have faded in another few minutes.
Photographing Adults is a whole other ball game! This takes so much more time, in some cases we knew people for weeks before we even attempted to take a photo. The language barrier makes photography harder so we always tried to learn a few phrases in the local language, which the local people really appreciated, sometimes more for the hilarity of a ‘Mzungu” (white person) speaking their language, then what we actually said. When we were on Zanzibar we learnt a response to the Swahili “MAMBO” (how are you?) which always got us a handshake… “Poa Kichizi, Kaman Dizi, Dan Ya Frigi”..translated as “I’m as cool as a banana in a Fridge”! It’s an old local saying and always got us big smiles!
We did volunteer work in Bujagali in Uganda for six weeks and this allowed us to become friends with many local families who kindly allowed us to take photos of their everyday life. Here are some photos of some of those people who allowed us into their space.
All Images © 2010 Wonky Eye