Picture It

Chirombo Village Pt. 2: The Boat and the Funeral

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 16 June 2010

My original model in the bwato in Chirombo Village, Malawi.

I went to the village last night in hopes of photographing a man in his canoe, or bwato.  (I participate in some online photo competitions, and this week we had to photograph a boat or any sort.  I planned on staging the whole thing, so I knew these would not be true photojournalistic photos.  They are real people from the village and the boat is a real canoe that they use for fishing, but the location and the poses are staged by me.)

I packed up all of my gear and brought a friend along to act as my human light stand.  Along the lake shore, we saw some children playing with dogs and some women washing dishes and clothes, but no men and no canoes.  Usually, the reeded area of the shore is full of boats, but it was empty.  Out on the lake, there were only one or two people fishing, so I knew the boats must be around somewhere.

Finally, at the main entrance to the village from the shore (which I have only used once—I usually take a short cut shown to me by Stanley) I found a group of men sitting under a tree.  One was making rope for his nets while the others chatted.  Nearby were a few canoes.

A boy posing in the bwato in Chirombo Village, Malawi.

In a cross between English, Chichewa, and sign language, I greeted them and asked if anyone would be willing to pose for me in a bwato.  They mumbled quickly amongst themselves before the man making rope stood up and signaled that he would pose for me.

He got into his canoe and I motioned for him to row down the shore a bit until he was in the sun with the island in the background.  The men all watched as I set my gear up, and they were particularly impressed by my giant reflector that snaps open on its own.

Using English and sign language, I ran my model through a series of poses.  Within two or three photos, I had a big group of people standing around me.  Most of them were children who kept jumping in front of my camera.  I asked the children to stay out of my picture and promised that when I was done with my original model, I would take their picture too.

I hurried through shooting my original model (whose name I unfortunately can’t remember) and asked him if I could photograph the children in his bwato too.  He agreed.

The kids jumped into the bwato. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

I motioned to a particularly excited three-year-old girl that she could get into the canoe first, but the oldest male child there quickly grabbed her by the shoulder and said some harsh words to her before climbing into the bwato himself.

As so it went.  I photographed the older boy children, then the older girl children, followed by the younger boys and finally the younger girls.  The children under the age of three weren’t allowed in the boat at all.  The teens and adults weren’t interested in being photographed in the boat, but they enjoyed watching me and inspecting my equipment.

The older children looked very stoic and strong in their posing and wouldn’t crack a smile regardless of what crazy positions I put myself in when photographing them.  The younger kids on the other hand, especially the girls, were all giggles.  Granted, most people think I look pretty silly when I’m taking pictures (I usually perform some intricate contortion moves to get just the right angle), but these kids thought I was absolutely hilarious.  Some of them were great actors and would erase their smiles as soon as I brought the camera to my eye, but some of them just laughed and laughed until their sides hurt.

A girl laughing at my funny poses. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

Still laughing. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

One of the younger girls had a beautiful smile and couldn’t restrain her giggles.  I was so enamored by her smile that I easily took four times as many images of her than I did of most of the others.

When I finished photographing everyone who wanted to pose for me, I packed up my gear, still with a large audience watching (again, my reflector was a huge source of entertainment as I twisted it up to fit back into the small carrying case).

I returned to the village this afternoon and saw many of the same kids I photographed yesterday.  They called for me to photograph them, but I had told Stanley that I would be back in the village Monday or Tuesday to photograph the mill.  I didn’t do that yesterday, so I had to go today.

Before I left, the power went off.  One of the neighbors came over to chat with Nisar (the owner of the lodge I’m living at) while he waited for the electricity to come back on.  He told me he had heard that there was a funeral going on in the village.  I didn’t want to break my word to Stanley, so I pack my gear and set off to the village anyway.

Another girl posing in the bwato. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

Sure enough, when I passed the cemetery (which I hadn’t gotten close to before, but had seen through the trees) there was a group of men waiting.  I asked them if they knew where Stanley was, but they said no.  One of them led me to a local house and told me to wait while he went to look for Stanley.

I entered the fenced area around a small brick house and greeted the two women sitting on the porch.  They seemed happy to hear me speaking Chichewa and started asking me questions.  It wasn’t long before they realized that I had already exhausted my Chichewa vocabulary.

One of the ladies passed her tiny (maybe a week old) baby to the other woman, changed her shirt, then went to help find Stanley.  The remaining lady and I sat on the porch in silence.  Children gathered on the other side of the fence and peered at me through the gaps.

After a few minutes, I heard singing in the distance.  It was absolutely gorgeous, and I could tell it was getting closer, heading towards the cemetery I had passed on my way through.  The procession had somehow organized itself into perfect harmony, with some people humming chords, others singing melodies, and a single man calling and chanting his own part that, while very different, wove itself effortlessly into the rest of the song.

I craned my neck to see through the opening in the fence.  Luckily, the opening lined up perfectly with a break between the houses across the lane, providing me a tiny glance at the march of the mourners.  I saw no coffin and no body, but when the group reached the cemetery, I could hear the mournful wails of what I assumed to be a mother or wife sounding over the singing voices.

A young girl posing and trying not to laugh. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

One of the girls posed with her pots. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

Just then, Stanley came into the house’s enclosure with the woman who had left to go find him.  After saying our greetings, he explained that the mill was empty today because everyone was at the funeral.  He said I could come back tomorrow morning to photograph them.  He then introduced me to the women of the house, who turned out to be his sister-in-laws and his mother-in-law (who came out of the house when Stanley arrived).

On my way back, the group of kids I photographed yesterday, bolstered by some newcomers, asked me to photograph them again.  There was still some light left, so I agreed.  I snapped off some shots with natural light before I pulled out my flash.  When the flash went off for the first time, the kids who hadn’t watched me yesterday screamed and ran away or hid behind each other.  When they realized nothing bad had happened, they dissolved into giggles.

A girl posing in the bwato with the village in the background. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

The Namazizi School, Monkey Bay, Malawi

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 13 June 2010

On Thursday of last week, I visited the Namazizi School (also called the Namadzidzi School).  I had visited a few days earlier to get permission to spend a day photographing the classes.

Students gather for the morning assembly at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

I arrived at 7am, guided by the sound of a beating drum that is used to call the students to school.  As they waited for everyone to arrive, a teacher led them in some stretching and exercises.  A few minutes later, the morning assembly began.  They started by singing the national anthem before they all sat down to listen to the announcements given by the teachers.  Stanley (who met me on my way to the school) and I were ushered into the headmaster’s office, but we could still hear the assembly going on.  Stanley gave me translated summaries of what was said.

The day before, there had been an important meeting at the school that all parents were required to attend.  They were supposed to discuss topics including the future of the school, the progress of the students, and the upkeep of the programs.  Among other things, it was decided that the parents would pay MK100 (around US$0.65) for the students to have nsima (like finer, stickier polenta, or a corn-based porridge/paste that is the base of Malawian cuisine) at school.  The problem was that not all parents were at the meeting, despite the mandatory attendance.  The teachers told the students that if their parents had not attended, they were to leave school and force their parents to come.  They would not be allowed back in class until their parents came to the school to learn all that was discussed at the meeting.  The students nervously laughed and balked at the thought of forcing their parents to do anything, but sure enough, when the morning assembly was over, students filed both into the classrooms and out of the courtyard, towards the villages.

Award won by the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Because of excitement of the morning’s news (and the arrival of a mzungu girl with a backpack full of camera gear), it took a while for the courtyard to empty and the classes to begin.  Since so many of the students had left to fetch their parents, the headmaster decided that I should wait to begin photographing the classes.  She didn’t want the classes to appear empty, but I suspect that the absent students and teachers also didn’t want to miss the chance to be photographed.

The headmaster told me that the only class that was full was one of the lower grades, but she did not want me to sit in on that class because it would be taught in Chichewa only.  Despite my reassurance that the language didn’t matter, and my joke that the languages didn’t show up in the photos, I was still told to wait until the classes were ready for me.

So I sat in the headmaster’s office and photographed the posters on the wall and the occasional student who came to peak at me.  Hanging on the wall was a plaque that said that the school had won an award for the best kept school a few years back.  On the board to the left were all the school schedules listing who taught when and what each class would study every day.  According to those schedules, the classes studied by the older students, which I would be photographing, are English, Chichewa, mathematics, social and environmental sciences, science and technology, expressive arts, agriculture, and life skills.  The board to the right talked about the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) and other school organizations.

The teacher helping students at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

The teacher of Standard 6 at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

I continued to sit in the office well after classes started.  I could hear the younger students next door chanting the alphabet and the sounds of each letter.  When song broke out, Stanley told me that the students were embarrassing someone who had shown up late to class.  Every once in a while, I would hear lots of loud laughing and shouting.  Stanley told me that the students were chiding one of their classmates for failing something.

After a few hours, the heat and the chanting  started lulling me to sleep.  Finally, around 10am, I was told I could photograph standard/grade 6.  I was marched across the courtyard and into the classroom, where the students promptly stood up, chanted “Hello madam!  How are you!”, waited for my response, then sat back down in unison.  Quite a greeting.  The teacher walked in behind me, and she was greeted in the same way.

Girl Reciting Answers at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

A teacher discussing different types of irrigation at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.



.

.

.

.

.

.

.The first lesson I photographed was agriculture.  The students were learning about different types of irrigation, which plants grew best with which type, and why it is important to irrigate crops.  They broke into groups to discuss each part, then gave a summary of what they talked about.  In between listening and writing, the students tried to slyly watch what I was doing.  When they thought I wasn’t looking, they would point at me and whisper furiously, breaking into laughter and hiding behind their hands when I caught them.

The teacher of standard 6 at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Next was mathematics.  The teacher began by having all the students stand up and asking them multiplication questions.  When a student answered a question correctly, he or she was allowed to sit down.  The rest of the class would clap for each right answer, always the same beat and always in unison: clap-clap-clap!  clap-clap-clap!  clap!  clap!  clap!  clap!  It’s pretty impressive (and slightly daunting) to watch and hear nearly 50 teens react in unison.  It reminded me of the military.

I thought I would be spending the whole day with the same class, but since it was such a special occasion to have a photographer at the school, all the classes wanted their time in front of the lens.  But the headmaster had only ok’d one other class.  After taking a portrait of the teacher of standard 6, I was whisked away to the next group.

A class at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Again, upon my entrance into the classroom, the whole class stood up, chanted their greetings and welcomes, then sat back down in unison.  They didn’t tell me which year the class was and I didn’t want to interrupt to ask, but they were mostly between two and seven years younger than the students in the other class.

They were just about to begin their English lesson when I arrived.  The teacher held up hand-written cards with vocabulary words on them and asked the students to read them.  When she exhausted the pile, she instructed the students  to open their reading books and read to themselves a short story.  When they had finished, she helped them critically analyze the story and answer comprehension questions.

A class at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

The story was about two students, one male and one female, who were in school preparing for the examinations that would decide whether they were eligible to attend university.  The boy wanted to become a pilot (one of the vocab words) and the girl wanted to become a doctor.  The girl’s parents told her that she didn’t need to take the exams because girls weren’t allowed to become doctors.  The teacher discussed gender equality with the class and explained that any of them could become anything they wanted, no matter whether they were male or female.

I had gotten the impression throughout the morning that the topics of the lessons had been chosen for my benefit and to show the school the way they thought I, as a westerner, a mzungu, would expect a proper school to operate.  That story may or may not have been chosen for that lesson that reason, but I was still very happy that the story was included in their thin reading book.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more first-world schools encourage their girls more as well.

A boy reading to his class at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

To finish up the English lesson, the class studied conjunctions.  The students answered the questions very quickly and would have put most native English speakers (who, from my experience, can rarely even define “conjunctions”) to shame.  This lesson was tied into the same story they had just finished reading, so many of the sentences in the exercise were about attending school frequently, studying hard, and choosing ambitious careers.

Throughout the lesson, giggles trickled through the windows.  Students from other classes were sneaking from their rooms to sit under the window sill of the room I was in, sneaking glances when they thought I wasn’t looking.  Inside, the students also watched me intently.  They dutifully returned to their work when I pointed my camera at them, looking very studious for the photos, but they returned to gawking when I photographed someone else  When I pointed my camera in the direction of the kids outside, the windows quickly became full of faces pressed against the slats, hoping to get in my photos.  I only snapped off a few shots because they starting making a lot of noise.  I knew my presence was disruptive enough, so I didn’t want the kids outside to create further distractions.

Kids peeking into a classroom at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

A student completing in-class assignments at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

When the English lesson was over, I decided it was time to leave.  I had already finished the liter of water I had brought with me and my stomach was voicing its emptiness.  The classroom was stifling hot because very little breeze made it through the slatted windows.  Between the heat, my hunger and dehydration, and the weight of my gear (I definitely over packed), I was already feeling slightly weak and very tired.  I thanked the headmaster and all the teachers before setting off with Stanley on the half-hour walk under the midday sun back to where I am staying.  My remaining energy only barely got me to the bar, where I immediately downed a liter of cold water.  (If the winter heat takes such a toll on me, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die come October when the real heat starts.)

A teacher at the Namazizi School in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Overall, I think the shoot was successful.  I got some absolutely gorgeous photos of the students, but there isn’t enough room in this post to show more than those that tell the story.  At times it did feel like I was photographing a well-choreographed play instead of a normal school day, but I’m sure that’s just because having a photographer at the school was such a novelty and they wanted to look their best and be on their best behavior.

I’m hoping that the next time I go to Lilongwe or Blantyre, I can print some of the photos I took at the school.  I want to bring the photos back to the teachers and students so they can see what I have done and so they will feel more comfortable granting me more access to the classes in the future.

Chirombo Village Pt. 1

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 08 June 2010

A man fishing in Chirombo Bay, Malawi.

Two women washing clothes and pots in Chirombo Bay, Malawi.

A man in a makoro, on his way to go fishing in Chirombo Bay, Malawi.

Since I’ve been living on Chirombo Bay for over a month now, I figured it was time for me to actually visit the village nearby.  I’ve walked along the shore a few times, but I hadn’t actually entered the village.

Today, I walked along the water, stopping to photograph some women washing clothes and pots in the lake.  They laughed and talked to me in Chichewa and I responded in English.  Although neither of us understood the other, we had a good time.

Further along the shore, I photographed some men fishing.  They were just leaving to go out on the lake, so I couldn’t talk with them for very long.  As I photographed them, some boys about 100m away saw me and called to me.  I was surprised they saw me–I was standing in some reeds behind a tree–but there are so few azungu (white people) in the area that they get very excited when they see one.

Boys of Chirombo Village, Malawi.

Boys next to a baobab tree in Chirombo Village, Malawi.

I went over to the boys and asked if I could photograph them.  Their English wasn’t very good, but they responded in Chichewa with one of the few words I have learned: “Jambule,” or “Take my picture!”  I motioned for them to stand in the shade (shade is beautiful light for photos, but it’s also much nicer on my burnt shoulders).  As I did earlier in the day, I chatted with them in English while they talked back in Chichewa, even though we only understood a few words of what the other was saying.  After some photos (in the various locations the boys led me to!),  I told the boys that I wanted to see the village.  It took some sign language and pointing on my part, but they soon happily led me up the dirt road to the village.

Within a few seconds of my arrival, a crowd started to form.  The adults peeked out of buildings and the children crept to within a few meters of me.  One man approached me and began asking me about myself.  I asked if he could show me around the village, but he was the only one working at a nearby shop, so he declined.

A homemade alcohol distiller in Chirombo Village, Malawi.

I wandered over to a baobab tree I had passed when I entered the village.  I was intrigued by the writing that covered the lower portion of its trunk, which I was later told listed some of the important members of the village.  I approached a group of men under a tree a few feet away who were discussing the future of the village and those who lived there.  One of the men who spoke very good English, Stanley, gave me a tour of the village.

Homemade Alcohol in Chirombo Village, Malawi

We started at his house, where I met his mother and two children.  He then showed me where he brews his “beer.”  From what I have heard from others, it’s not so much “beer” as it is “nearly pure alcohol.”  Supposedly two shots can make hefty German men pass out.  I was also told that there are some pretty gnarly things in some brews, such as batteries.

A pigeon house in Chirombo Village, Malawi.

But according to Stanley, the ingredients are only water, sugar, and corn.  He lets the mixture sit for three days before he puts it in his distilling contraption where it is boiled.   Somehow (he had difficulty explaining this part) the alcohol leaves the pot, flows down the tube in the log, and drips into a waiting bottle by way of a strip of reed.

Pigeons in the pigeon house. Chirombo Village, Malawi.

Near the alcohol distillery, there was a strange, small hut on stilts.  When I looked inside, I found pigeons.  I asked Stanley what he used them for, but he said they are like flowers and are only there for beauty.

Next, he took me to the local school.  I talked to the headmaster, and she gave me permission to spend Thursday morning photographing the school.  I’ll be photographing the oldest students because I am hoping they will be less distracted by me and my camera than the younger children.  We’ll see!

Best Store Name Ever

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 05 June 2010

Unlike most people, I don’t mind spending hours stuck in a car.  I’m easily entertained by looking out the window.  Driving around Malawi and most of southern Africa is particularly fun because of the gems of store names that abound in these parts.  I’ve seen some amazing names, but a few weeks ago, I found the winner, the best in all my trips to Africa.  When I drove by again the other day, I had to stop for a photo.  I present to you “People Always Complain Hardware.”

"People Always Complain Hardware" in Mangochi, Malawi.

I’ll be posting more examples of the incredible store names as I photograph them.

Unlike most people, I don’t mind spending hours stuck in a car.  I’m easily entertained by looking out the window.  Driving around Malawi and most of southern Africa is particularly fun because of the gems of store names that abound in these parts.  I’ve seen some amazing names, but a few weeks ago, I found the winner, the best in all my trips to Africa.  When I drove by again the other day, I had to stop for a photo.  I present to you “People Always Complain Hardware.”

I’ll be posting more examples of the incredible store names as I photograph them.

Trip to Lilongwe

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 02 June 2010

I visited Lilongwe this last weekend to advertise my photography business at a fair held at the Bishop Mackenzie International School.  The weekend went well, especially on the business side of things–I will be shooting and helping advertise a new branch of a popular bar in the city and I might (still working on it!) be photographing 65 students at a daycare.

The rest of the weekend included drinks at the bar mentioned above and a braii/barbecue.  Leave it to me to find any Italians or Italian speakers within 100m, as I did at both places!

The most interesting part of my trip (as in the most interesting for you all to read about) would be the bus rides from Monkey Bay to Lilongwe and back.  By car, one can get between the two in about 3 hours.  By bus, it takes over 5 hours.  There is a sign at the front of the bus that says the occupancy maximums are 65 people sitting and 25 people standing.  If you count all the children that sat of various laps, there were probably 75-80 people sitting at any given time and 35-40 people crammed into the aisles–and that doesn’t include the luggage and person-sized bags of corn, beans, and flour that were stacked anywhere they would fit.

On my way to Lilongwe, I had someone sit on my lap, someone sit on my shoulder, someone use my head as an arm rest, and a baby tried to pull my shirt down to nurse.  When I recounted this to Dida, the lady who graciously let me stay with her family that weekend, she laughed and said,”Well, that’s part of the African Experience, I guess…even if most Africans never go through that!”

The ride back was much more manageable.  I decided to sit on top of a stack of bags full of various foodstuffs, which put me too high for people to sit or lean on.  It was also cloudy.  Sometimes a lack of sun beating on you can make all the difference!

I had intended to take a picture of the Lilongwe skyline, but I’d forgotten that the city doesn’t really have one.  There are a few hills and a few multistory buildings, but nothing close together enough or prominent enough to be called a definitive “skyline” or “cityscape” in the way that most other large cities do.  Instead, I’ll leave you with a landscape that I took on my way home.  It’s nothing spectacular since I actually shot it through the window while the bus was in motion, but it will give you an idea of the beauty I got to look at for a few hours this weekend.

View from the bus on my way from Lilongwe back to Monkey Bay, Malawi.

First Photo Walk in Monkey Bay

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 25 May 2010

The church in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

When I woke up this morning, it was cloudy—perfect light for photography.  Franc was going to town, so I went along with him to take pictures even though I don’t have any model releases printed yet.  He dropped me off at the church before he continued on to the harbor.  We agreed to meet later on.

The church is by far the tallest building in the town.  It’s made of reddish brick, but otherwise looks very similar to any Western church, complete with a bell tower.  I expected the inside to be simple brick, just like the outside, but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in.  The walls around the altar had enormous elaborate paintings of people reaching almost to the ceiling.  The walls along the pews were colorfully decorated with words on Chewa.  The pews were very simple, but the walls were so beautiful that I hardly noticed.

Inside the church in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Kids playing on the porch of the church in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

I was in the church all of 30 seconds when I was surrounded by a group of kids.  They watched quietly as I took two photos in the inside of the church.  Then one boy boldly stepped in front of my camera.  I took three photos of him before he was joined by another boy.  I took one photo of him as the rest of the group crept closer and closer.

I motioned to all the kids to go outside since I didn’t want them to start jumping all over the pews in the chaos that I knew would ensue once I turned my camera towards the group.  The sun had finally broken through the clouds, so I motioned the kids into the shade of the porch.  I snapped off one photo of the group before they started jumping all over the place, trying to be in front of everyone else.  I kept having to tell them to move back because they would get less than six inches away from my camera, which means I couldn’t see more than an eye or nose, let alone focus!  They danced, showed me their kung-fu moves, and pretended to be Buddha (while yelling “Buddha!  Buddha!”).

Boy Laughing in Monkey Bay, Malawi

Eventually I had to leave the kids to explore the rest of the town.  They were having a great time being photographed, but I had already popped off over 50 shots of them.  I wandered down the street until a group of teens running a booth called me over.  They were excited to see me, but nervous and embarrassed to be photographed, despite asking me to photograph them.  One boy was obviously much more embarrassed than the rest—he couldn’t stop laughing!  He laughed and laughed until he could barely breathe.  His friends laughed at him laughing, and I laughed at them laughing at him.  Our laughter drew a crowd of spectators in the road, so I showed them their photos (which initiated a new round of laughter) and moved on.

A mother and her daughter in Monkey Bay, Malawi

I went down a small alley full of shops where I bought a backpack yesterday.  I wanted to photograph the shopkeeper I bought from, but I couldn’t find him.  A lady came up to me asked me my name, my father’s name, and where I was from, then asked me to take her picture in her shop.  After taking her picture (and then the photos of four other shopkeepers), I asked if I could photograph her outside.  She agreed, but said I must photograph her with her first born.  She pulled her daughter into the frame, but the daughter did not look very pleased about it all.  I snapped off a few photos of the pair and tried to finish quickly for the daughter’s sake.

A man eating sugar cane on the porch of the mill in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Back on the road, a man eating a stick of sugar cane called me over.  He was sitting on the front porch of the mill.  He asked me in Chewa to take his photo (one of the few things in Chewa I understand!), and I happily obliged.  Once again, a crowd, small this time, came to watch me.  I photographed a young girl, and when another came and asked to be photographed as well, an older woman jumped in front of her and asked that I pay her first.  I told her that I only pay people who will sign a model release, and since I didn’t have any model releases, I wouldn’t be paying anyone today.  I don’t know if she understood me, but she talked back in Chewa and laughed, so I don’t think there were any hard feelings either way.

Part of a family in the mill in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

I asked the girl if I could photograph her inside the mill and she agreed.  I ended up photographing at least one (might have been two) families inside the mill before Franc picked me up outside.

If was only a short photo walk, maybe just under an hour, but I got some fun photos.  I also drew a lot of attention to myself, which means people will start to get to know me.  That’s important if I want people to trust me enough to allow me to take some intimate candids in the future.  All in all, things went well!  I can’t wait to get some model releases and spend more time with these people.

First Shoots in Malawi

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 22 May 2010

I’ve been in Malawi for over three weeks now.  I think we finally have the internet sorted out, which is a relief and means I can begin uploading photos for everyone to see.

I’ve been taking mostly landscape photos with a few animal (monkeys, lizards, geckos, butterflies, and fish eagles) shots as well.  I’ve been to the local village a few times, but I haven’t photographed anyone because I don’t have my model releases ready.  I got the release translated into Chichewa during my first week here, but I have not yet been able to get them printed.  I’m hoping to do that this weekend in Lilongwe.

I’ll be going to Lilongwe to attend an expo and tell people that I am a professional photographer (the “professional’ part is important because there are very, very few photographers in Malawi who have had proper training, or so I’ve been told!) and that I am available for hire.  Since I arrived in Monkey Bay, I’ve done an architectural shoot, a product shoot, an event shoot, and a portrait session for three girls.  Everyone tells me that I should go to Lilongwe and Blantyre, the two biggest cities in the country, and announce my services.  They all say I will get a lot of business.  I’m hoping to eventually earn enough to buy a motorbike and hire someone to build a canopy (or some type of covering) for the bike—I’m a wimp when it comes to heat, so a roof for my transportation is necessary!  Then I’ll be able to get around on my own, which is critical for doing most of the personal work I want to do.

So Lilongwe this weekend and Blantyre probably in the next month or so!

For now, I’ll leave you with some photos from the first shoots I’ve done here.  I can’t show you the products because they are still under wraps (I can tell you they have something to do with the World Cup though)!

Carlotta, Aneese, and Tyra, the three girls I photographed during my first portrait session in Malawi.

Bedroom at Alcon Cottages, a resort on the shores of the lake in Monkey Bay, Malawi.

Passengers enjoying themselves aboard the first official voyage on the MV Mangunda in Monkey Bay, Malawi.