Members of a farming family, near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

I like this picture because everyone is looking in different directions, which to me gives a very “real” air to the picture, i.e. they are not all posing for the camera.  The mother is posing for the camera but I think that her pose is one of the most placid, serene, genuine and friendly that I’ve seen – she is feeling absolutely at ease with both me and my camera, and is simply looking very calmly straight into the lens.  She gives the impression of being very self-possessed.

The young man on the left is smiling – and his smile, his averted eyes and the splayed fingers and thumb of his pale hand against his darker face add to this shot.  Finally, the young child (a girl?), sitting on her mother’s lap, is certainly unposed – with her attention attracted elsewhere – but staring somewhere different to her older brother.

Using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro, I’ve darkened the top of the picture, down to the top of the young man’s head, to help ensure that the viewer’s attention is concentrated onto these three people.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; Silver Efex Pro.

UPDATE: this remains one of my very favourite pictures, along with the one in the Archive 310 postI only wish that I’d taken more pictures like this while in Kenya.  And what of Kenya after their general election?  Well, the current president has been re-elected and international observers think the election valid, but the opposition hotly dispute it.  Who knows what will happen now – and whether, for example, it will affect any of the six people shown in this and the 310 post?  Assuming they have survived, they will be 38 years older now, and living in a more modern Kenya than the one I knew.  And so to the eternal problem.  Others may vie for power, there may be violence, disease and destabilisation on a national scale, but whatever happens it is hard to see the lot of these six people improving significantly, while there must always be the threat that the chaos and aggression resulting from the ambitions of others will impinge upon them.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    I remember you’ve said you regret not taking more photos like this when you were in Kenya, I thought of that immediately when I saw this – there’s one! You have some anyway, and this one is interesting for all the expressions. The tones are really nice. I can understand how it’s really hard to think about where the family might be now, given all the turmoil.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Lynn, glad this gets to you. And yes, the turmoil; human nature I think, as Stephen Hawking recently said, our species has aggression inbuilt. Off to a distant funeral today, its tense and sad; will be in need of strong Belgian ales later … A


  2. steveo says:

    Nice portrait in monochrome Adrian! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


  3. paula graham says:

    So much trouble in many African states. Does not bear thinking about the suffering of the people and their often fat leaders. Beautiful photo.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you. Yes, the disparity between the people and their leaders – in Kenya I remember this disparity as vast, monumental even – but then I’m reminded of those who are allowing the NHS to crumble whilst doubtless using private health care themselves – a universal disparity then.


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