"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Friday, January 06, 2012

a new batch of photographs

One of the best things about our team trip this year was the location of our hotel. The first few years we stayed in Kampala. While it was nice being in the big city (easy access to great restaurants, markets, etc.) this required a long, traffic snarled, fuel fume laden trip in the van each morning and afternoon. Last year we stayed closer, but we still had to take a boda or taxi to the orphanage each day.

Thanks to Melissa, this year I learned about The Lodge. It's a sweet little place in the village of Lweza (which is in the larger town of Kajjansi). It is owned by a safari operator and staffed by the friendliest, most helpful folks. Once our team moved in, we took over all the rooms, so we truly felt like it was our own.

The Lodge is close enough to SMK that we were able to walk back and forth. It was a great way to start and end each day - walking through the village greeting our "neighbors" as we trekked to and from work. The team felt like it was part of the neighborhood, rather than being "bussed" in and out of it each day. I think it added a lot to everyone's experiences.

I often used the opportunity to make portraits with my Hassie. At first, I appreciated the assistance of one of the kids from SMK (thanks Tony, Rachael, Rosette, Cissy and Tina) to help with my light metering. After a while, though, I was able to make fairly accurate guesses and use my histogram to fine tune exposures. The Hasselblad is not a small, discreet tool. Once I find a person whose portrait I'd like to make, plop my 30 pound camera backpack onto the ground and pull out the big guy, everyone within a few houses or shops knows I'm photographing! It kind of became a bit of a ceremony, and that brought back fond memories of working with my old film Hassie.

Photographing with this camera makes me slow down. I find I am much more methodical and deliberate, carefully framing and composing the shot and possibly making only a handful of captures of each subject. I like working this way. It seems more purposeful, zen-like, conscientious. It also connects me more to the subject, because I am definitely not "shooting and running." A more heartfelt, meaningful rapport is established; I'd like to think this is reflected in the resulting images.

I will make prints of these pictures and send them back to Lweza via Melissa. Tony told me that people love to have their pictures taken by visitors like me (tourists wielding cameras!) because it costs a lot of shillings to hire a photographer in the village. If they can get a free picture from someone like me, that is a wonderful gift, he said.

It is the least I can do, since they gave me the wonderful gift of collaborating with me for these portraits.


Tuxedobird said...

Lovely, Gloria. I don't know if my favorite is the little girl in maroon on the matching sofa or the woman behind the strands of hanging beads. The sign for the circumcision doctor was rather startling. Does he do only males or is female circumcision sometimes done in Uganda?

Gloria Baker Feinstein said...

I talked to this man for quite a while. He does male circumcisions. 30,000 Ugandan shillings per. That's roughly $15 US. He showed me a pamphlet that was published by the Ugandan ministry of health that points to all the pros of male circumcision. He went over all the pictures in the pamphlet with me, too. He was very proud of the service he offers, as he strongly believes he is helping fight HIV/AIDS and penile cancer by convincing parents to circumcise their sons. He seemed very professional, in spite of his hand scrawled signage!

Anonymous said...

These are stunning!

verna said...

Beautiful. You are doing such a good thing. A very unselfish obsession you have. Are you doing your auction again? Enjoyed it so last year.

Gloria Baker Feinstein said...

Thank you so much, Verna.

We haven't planned the 2012 fundraiser yet, but I did bring home a lot of very beautiful artwork made by the kids at the orphanage. Chances are good the work will be a big part of our event again. Always a very popular part of the annual fundraiser!

Anonymous said...

Very handsome images. Hope to see more.