ARCHIVE KENYA 123 – PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LUO GIRL (MONO)

 

 


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Young Luo girl on a farm near Akala in western Kenya;  Apr 1979.

Click onto the image to open a larger version on a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; mono conversion and vignetting in Silver Efex Pro.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 107 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA

 

 

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s love affair with bright colour: Luo woman on a farm near Akala, in western Kenya; April 1979.

She is sitting in front of the wooden door of a mud hut with a thatched roof.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO to further saturate colour.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 101 – MENDING A ROOF

 

 

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Adding thatch to the roof of a house on a Luo farm near Akala, in western Kenya; April 1979.

The agricultural west of Kenya, to the west of the city of Kisumu, with rich soils and plenty of rain from the frequent storms which move eastwards from nearby Lake Victoria.  Lush trees and shrubs border the farm’s compound, within which are these roundhouses, which have wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs.

This house’s doorway is outlined in pale orange and the wooden door is ajar.  An old man, an experienced thatcher, has climbed up onto the roof via a homemade ladder, and is adding more thatch.

Chickens scratch around, and the farmer stands beside a pile of thatching material destined for the repairs.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour side film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 99 – LUO FAMILY

 

 


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Luo family on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The backdrop is the painted wall of a wattle and daub hut, the smooth surface layer of which is starting to flake off on the far right.  Minor points, maybe that I’ve only really appreciated now, after all these years, are the Vicks poster and the kitten.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

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

UPDATE: The people in Kenya were in the main very friendly and hospitable.  I very much enjoyed my years in that country.  Again – once again – I wish that I had photographed more of the people that I met there.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 78 – BOYS FISHING

 

 


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Luo boys fishing at Dunga, near Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya; April 1979.

I love the colours and slightly upturned prow of the boat, and its reflection too, and also the overall feeling of relaxation, with time passing slowly on a hot day by the side of the teeming lake.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 68 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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Luo people on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

I love these portraits.  The man is at ease with me and my camera, he knows me well, and in his expression we see nothing contrived, just a calm and direct gaze.  The little boy is nervous, but is being reassured by the man’s closeness – while the little girl’s radiant smile is a delight.

This smile reminds me powerfully of African children in general!  I was often in out of the way areas in Kenya, often far off the well beaten tourist tracks, searching for unusual birdlife.  And I can remember entering villages where white people were only infrequently seen – and being beset by a tide of brightly smiling little children like these, chanting “mazungu, mazungu!” – swahili for “white man, white man!”.

And sometimes they were so curious to see me, maybe not having had close contact with a european before, that they came and wondered at the pale hair on my pale arms – and touched my arms and head as if they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing – it was a real, uninhibited examination!

I like children anyway, I vastly enjoy interacting with them – and especially so when they can talk – and these were simply wonderful and fascinating experiences.  And I also want to mention here how friendly Kenyan people were in general, throughout my years there – friendly, hospitable and humorous.

On the negative side of things though, it was on this trip that I first contracted malaria – and that is something truly unpleasant.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that version to enlarge it.

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

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 63 – WOMEN ON A FARM

 

 


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Luo women on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

On the left is the girlfriend of my travelling companion.  This was taken on his father’s farm, where I received much hospitality and friendliness.  Everybody was curious about my camera: that it was a fairly compact and unimposing Olympus OM-1, which I mostly used with an equally unimposing 50mm lens, was helpful – it didn’t scare people off! 

And so to this relaxed picture: I especially like the straight and open gaze of the woman on the right.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 42 – BODY LANGUAGE

 

 


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OK, so which is the precocious one??? – youngsters on a farm in the far west of Kenya; Apr 1979.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was over in the far west of Kenya – around Akala, Kisumu and Lake Victoria – in 1979, visiting my friend’s father’s farm.  I was an out and out birder in those days, and I was in this area looking for birds only found, in Kenya at least, in the very far west – which birds? >>> Eastern Grey Plantain Eater, Brown Twinspot, Shoebill, Splendid Starling and many more.

I was a curiosity anyway of course, because these far western areas were way off the usual tourist trail, but in particular I attracted droves of children, which was fine with me as I love kids – but not so fine when I was very quietly trying to spot rare and shy birds in dense vegetation.  Ever humorous, my companion let it be known that I liked eating children, but even that had little effect.

Anyway, above are three of this farm’s throng, and which is the forward, lively, cheeky one? (First prize: an evening with me in a top class Bristol restaurant; second prize: two evenings with me in …).

Let’s start with the non-contenders.  They’re seated neatly on either side, arms and legs in, respectful expressions – as if they’re in school maybe, or church.

And between them … limbs insolently wide, provocative, questioning, a slight smile, head forward, big eyes looking up … “Its me … and I’m not afraid of you and your camera … so what are you going to do about that then?! … “.

And after 41 years I can still remember her – always up at the front of the crowd of kids, always questioning, laughing, clamouring for attention – a wonderful character, a lot of fun.  But I wonder if these three made it through to adulthood, life in the Third World can hold uncertainties after all.  I hope they are all fine – they’ll be around 45 now, probably with children of their own.  Time – or, as a friend perceptively puts it, “the conveyor belt” – moves on.  You think about these things more when you’re older.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; Dfine 2; Color Efex Pro 4.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 37 – BOY ON A FARM

 

 


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Young Luo boy on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; Apr 1979.

He is standing in front of the painted mud wall of a hut and is vastly amused to be having his picture taken – what a pity that those weren’t digital days, so that I could have showed him the result – or that I didn’t carry a polaroid camera with me.

Looking for rare birds – I was an out and out birder in those days, photography was very much a subsidiary thing – I remember entering villages deep in the western countryside where the africans seldom encountered white people, to be greeted by little children running at my VW Beetle, shouting “mzungu, mzungu!” – “white man, white man!”.  They crowded around me, looking at my skin and touching it with wonder and great curiosity – and all around were excited grins and smiles like the one above.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

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

UPDATE: this picture was taken 41 years ago and, getting older as I am, I find myself looking at this broadly grinning face, a face from my distant past, and wondering what has become of him.  For a start, is he alive, has he survived?  This is after all the Third World, and an area brutally infested by malaria – which I myself was struck down with – so that nothing can be guaranteed.  Assuming that he is still alive, he will now be in his 40s, perhaps with a family of his own.  So has he stayed on these far western farms, or maybe been drawn by the lure of the cities – nearby Kisumu, or even far off Nairobi or Mombasa?  I can have no answers here but am nevertheless left with one certainty: being a geologist and naturalist, most of my Kenyan photography was of the spectacular landscapes and wildlife – but now, with hindsight, I wish that my photographs had a more of a human element, that I’d taken more photographs of the Kenyans themselves.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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STILL LIFE 205 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 15

 

 


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I usually post these Looking At Chairs images with only their original text but, in this case, because I’m looking at chairs, I’d like to add a little more.  The post’s original text is down below.

In a way, I suppose, this is a family arranged around a chair.  I don’t know if this is their best chair or if there are more like it in the house behind, but I had just photographed them with an elderly man, this man’s father I think, and this very solid chair had been brought out for him to sit on, whereas this man and his wife are sitting on humbler stools.  In Kenya, the family’s eldest male is accorded special respect, and having him seated on this particular chair no doubt reflected that.

I’m not a great one for symbolism, most of the time I fail to understand what symbols mean, but maybe there is something – intentional or unintentional – here, with the place of eldest male being then used for the youngest.

And, as always with these very valued images, I wonder where these individuals are now, 39 years later.  They have no doubt forgotten me and, were it not for this photo, I would no doubt have forgotten them – which says something very solid about the value of portraits in any medium.

THE ORIGINAL TEXT, AND THE USUAL LINKS, ARE BELOW

Luo family on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The backdrop is the painted wall of a wattle and daub hut, the smooth surface layer of which is starting to flake off on the far right.  Minor points, maybe that I’ve only really appreciated now, after all these years, are the Vicks poster and the kitten.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  10  11 12 13 14 .  Each will open in a new window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

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

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