A visit to the Casamance this last week was a rich buffet for my senses, which were starved for color and fragrance in the dry northern regions of Senegal. While walking on the beaches of Cap Skirring, I was approached by these bathing belles who spotted my iPhone 6 Plus and asked whether I would take their photo. Delighted, I snapped off this one pic, and they fled before I could get their names.
The rich color palette of the streets of St. Louis, Senegal. The communal nature of this small, densely packed fishing community lays out it’s laundry for everyone to see, including sheep and goats.
This was the last week of the Dak’Art 11th African Contemporary Art Biennial in Dakar, Senegal. It was a fabulous showcase of artists from all over Africa and African artists in Europe. With over 280 sites around the city, we were kept busy for two weeks running from venue to venue. Dakar is truly cosmopolitan when it comes to the visual, fashion and musical arts.
I first met Lupita when she was fresh out of high school in Kenya some years ago. At that time, I was asked to do some fashion shots for my friend, Ann McGreath, who owns the Kenyan fashion house, KikoRomeo. We were scouting for models and I remember meeting Lupita who, at first, seemed a bit quiet and shy.
Well, that sure changed when our production team began traveling around Kenya shooting scenes in Tsavo West National Park and Mombasa. Over the days, she opened up and spread her wings. She revealed herself to be intelligent, vivacious and a natural in front of the lens. I was watching the first glimmer of early stardom that she would attain with her Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for “12 Years A Slave”. Good luck to her!
I met Peter Beard some years ago in Kenya when he was gracious enough to autograph some of his iconic photo books that I brought to him. We were at his “Hog Ranch” among the giraffes, wart hogs, a hyperactive mongoose and one supermodel. Here’s a nice little video of him, his art and his views.
One of the nicest things about taking portraits is establishing a rapport with the subject (even if it is only based upon them selling you something). Here, Mariamo Diallo, sells fabrics on the Popenguine beach and agreed to a photo session after selling some tie-dyed cloth to us.
This past week, I attended the Jazz and Arts Festival in St. Louis, Senegal. It was a raucous celebration of fusion, funk, and classical jazz forms with an African twist. The days were spent exploring the island of Ndar and its 19th century (UNESCO protected) colonial buildings in various states of genteel decay. Along the way, we dropped in at the various galleries catering to the hip crowd. We discovered a small artist’s studio tucked into a side street next to our hotel and discovered a wonder. This is the atelier of Meissa Fall, who describes himself as an “Artiste Artisan” and repairer of mechanical and electrical things. He is chiefly a soft spoken imp who makes witty sculptures out of recycled motor parts.
I first saw Maureen Gallagher in a file cabinet in Nairobi, Kenya. She was in a black and white 8 x 10 inch glossy photo standing heroically nude and feeding a giraffe. It was a pure Peter Beard signature image. That photo has since been re-worked into large collage art pieces, which sell for zillions of dollars, now.
So much is written and said of Peter Beard that I have nothing to add except that he was generous with his time in autographing a pile of his books that I brought to him. One day, I showed up at his Hog Ranch establishment in Nairobi, Kenya where he was preparing for a fashion shoot in Turkana District for the French Elle edition. Maureen Gallagher, his prime model, was also there, and I had an interesting afternoon hanging out at his very unconventional residence.
I’m fortunate to live in the Almadies section of Dakar, which is a peninsular area that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a delight to walk along the sea front as the sun goes down and watch the young guys playing soccer, people promenading and goats, dogs and cows meandering. Always something interesting for a snap shooter like me. This is Boubakar Gueye, who called me over to his souvenir shop and insisted that I take his photo. Here’s the result. Definitely, a snappy dresser.