Life on the Streets of Senegal (photo essays with Fuji X-E1)

From early in the morning until late at night, the streets of Senegal are buzzing with life. At daybreak merchants set up their stands along all major roads, businesses open their doors, people rush to work and kids (the lucky ones) go to school. Not all children have the privilege of going to school. In fact, the image that struck me the most and still haunts me is the hundreds of impoverished young boys I saw scavenging the streets every day. They are apparently being forced into begging (see my next post).

Also disturbing was the poverty everywhere and the amount of garbage lying around.

Driving in Senegal requires constant alertness. There are few traffic lights so you have cars and horse- or donkey-drawn carts trying to join the traffic from all sides (even going in the opposite direction). Despite all the chaos, there are not many collisions.

I could not believe how many people could fit on one bus or truck. People ride on roofs or hold on to open back doors with barely enough room on the bumper. I often saw buses not stopping at a bus stop but rather slowing down for some people to jump off and others to jump on. At the same time, merchants selling water or food would run alongside the bus trying to make a sale. Unbelievable!

The local people are very resourceful and creative. For example, to set up an auto shop, a local mechanic needs a strong tree with a chain hanging from it (to lift a car) and a few tools. Due to the lack of resources they often have to improvise and build their tools and other equipment from whatever is at hand.

I was fascinated by the markets and especially by the fishing market in the port of Mbour. All the markets were bustling with people. There was so much going on in those places that I often did not know where to point my camera.

The markets made for challenging places to photograph due to all the commotion and overwhelming detail (I personally don’t like pictures that look too busy). The natural reaction to an extremely busy place is eagerness to “get it all” which often leads to a busy and confusing image. I found that focusing on individual pieces is a much better approach. This leads to the art of composition. Composing in places like that usually requires concentration and the time-consuming process of elimination. In this fast-moving environment I had to shorten this process to a minimum.  

Even when shooting in such a busy foreign place, I didn’t experience any problems with my Fuji X-E1 and the zoom was a huge bonus. Due to the nature of the place I didn’t have enough time to adjust my exposure, therefore I shot RAW exclusively at the markets.

All images taken with Fuji X-E1 with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM IS zoom and B&W UV filter. Processed in Capture Pro 7 and Lightroom 4.

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My next post, the most difficult one personally, will be about the children of Senegal. Here are a few sample photos.

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Olaf has been shooting with the Fuji X100s over the weekend and is preparing a full review with some great images. Stay tuned. 

© Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Life on the Streets of Senegal (photo essays with Fuji X-E1)

  1. Hi Guys, amazing work, you do have a connection with your work and you are involved with young people, amzing feeling for the light and the decisive moment. I am a working photog and taught photography at Plymouth College Art UK for 16 yrs now returned to Tasmania Australia and working as a photog you can see my work on facebook at Richard Strong Photography. Stunned at the quality and will be buying this camera soon Regards and congratulations on a wonderfull body of work

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