It all started with Madeleine. Almost seven years ago, after a series of very unfortunate events, my husband, Olaf was in dire need of a kidney. When all hopes of finding a donor in our family were exhausted, Madeleine, a complete stranger at the time, made an unbelievable commitment to give Olaf one of her own precious organs. What a life-saving gift it has been!
Soon after, Madeleine was on another mission, this time helping strangers on the other side of the globe and in particular women in Senegal. When she asked me to join her group, I couldn’t have been more honoured. Last month, I travelled with Madeleine and a few women from our group to Senegal to spend time with the people we have been helping.
Visiting the Villages
Going to remote villages was an adventure in itself. Dirt roads, no street signs anywhere … still our Senegalese friend knew exactly by which baobab tree to turn right or left. Driving by some villages, I immediately noticed how welcoming and friendly the local people are. They would stop whatever they were doing and smile and wave at us. Many children would appear out of nowhere and run behind our car. Taking photos from a moving vehicle was fun and challenging at the same time.
Getting closer to our destination, I could hear the joyful sounds of djembes (drums). People from the village were waiting for us, dressed in their best clothes. To my surprise, they were not camera shy. After taking one photo of a mother with her baby, other mothers would line up to have their photos taken. They were thrilled when I showed them their images on my camera’s display. It was the same with the children. They all wanted to be photographed. It wasn’t ideal as I usually avoid drawing too much attention to myself. At a time like that I wished I had the more discrete Fuji X100.
Despite this, I enjoyed shooting with the X-E1/18-55 zoom combo. My approach to using any camera is to “keep it simple.” In good light I let the X-E1 choose the aperture and shutter speed for me so my focus could be entirely on composition and subjects. The only time I had to watch my settings was during the early morning or late evening or in poorly lit places when the shutter speed dropped below 1/125. I missed the possibility of setting a minimum shutter speed, which the X100 offers (hopefully, Fuji can implement this great feature in their next software updates). We were in villages mostly at midday. The light was very strong so when possible, I tried to take pictures in the shade remembering to switch to 1/125 manually. The super-sharp zoom with its image stabilization turned out to be great help as well.
There were times when I experienced moving and beautiful moments but I decided just to enjoy them rather than reach for my camera.
My next post will be about life on the streets. I will also take you to some fascinating places like the fishing village and markets of Mbour, 80 miles south of Dakar. Here are a few samples.
© Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.