Jen did a great post on Kanga on the Raising The Village blog so hop over there for a summary of what went down!
It’s really neat how every school, every community has a different “vibe” to it. Some are more reserved, some are quite out going and then there are the ones in between. The students at Kanga welcomed up with singing and clapping which was such a phenomenal sight and sound. As we settled down and the students (sort of) got used to us, they started drumming and dancing for us too! They’re certainly a lively bunch of kids. Some of the boys were playing “soccer” with a tiny orange plastic ball… on a sloped hill… barefoot. One of the challenges I faced during my entire trip was capturing true lifestyle and candid images where the subjects weren’t staring at my lens. It’s so hard because the kids are usually soooo distracted by you as a person, and certainly the huge DSLR in your hand. It took a lot of patience to just sit there, observe and wait for the right moment to capture images where they’re not distracted by me. Sometimes it involved just putting the camera down/away and talk to the kids first or simply sit there and watch them be themselves which was usually my favourite thing to do :)
One person who made a huge impression on me was Madam Aisha who’s one of the teachers at Kanga. She welcomed us on the first day with a hugeeee infectious smile and hugs all around. Jen and I went on a “tour” around the Kanga community where we met the locals, got insight to the various crops they grew as well as a peek into their daily lives. Towards the end of our first visit, I swapped roles with Jen and shot a little interview of Madam Aisha where she described her desire to be formally educated as a teacher in order to teach more effectively. I could just tell how much she loved teaching and had a passion for what she was doing. During our second visit to Kanga, I sat in one of her classes while she taught English and it was so cool to see the transfer of knowledge from her to her students. I don’t know why but I almost busted out crying when one of her students stood up to answer a question, thought long and hard about the answer and got it right. I guess seeing learning and education at its most basic form is quite incredible.
From a photo stand point, there were definitely some challenges during the visits to Kanga. Shawn, Dee and Richard proceeded with a meeting with the community women from Kanga and informed us that right after the meeting we’d have an opportunity to photograph them, in about 15 minutes or so. Well, turns out that “15 minutes” was really 5 minutes and that the women were in a crazy rush to get home because the rain on the verge of coming down. So all the cool ideas I had in my mind for this group photo had to be majorly tweaked. I had Jen and Shawn set up my lights while I tried to stall by getting the women into position. Setting people up is incredibly challenging because there are five million things you have to consider. Composition for me is huge and if I had the luxury of time I’d stand back, look at the scene, maybe exchange some creative banter with my assistant(s), rearrange the subjects until we got something wicked cool. Alas, time was one thing I didn’t have with the storm clouds rolling in. I just had to click the Execute switch on and go. Of course, it wouldn’t be a great experience without my PocketWizards failing right when I needed them yeah? Even my backup one, woohoo! HAHA So I couldn’t even light the group the way I wanted to. Roll with the punches :) In the end, you just gotta do the best you can with the situation you’re given and I’m still happy with how the image turned out.
Read more on Kanga, here.