A good photographer doesn’t just know when to push the button, but also knows which images from the usually larger number of photographs to choose and publish. Selecting and editing is an art in and of itself that requires clear criteria to be successful.
To take part in the second Bayimba photography workshop the people who were interested had to send a motivation letter, a profile of themselves and some photographs. There were more applicants than spaces available. So how were we to make the selections? We were certain that we wanted to work with motivated and dedicated people, so we decided that we would meet as many of the applicants as was possible. These meetings turned out to be the mechanism for a natural selection. Some people simply never turned up and others looked quite hesitant when we insisted that they had to make sure to have no other jobs during the workshop period. So invariably they were out…
Then we had two applications from Europeans living in Uganda. This seemed to be too much given that the course was first of all intended for Ugandans with ambitions in photography. But then there were also other considerations, those of a practical nature. Not everyone in Katanga is fluent in English. Hardly any white person in Kampala speaks sufficient Luganda for a real conversation. And conversation would be necessary for what we wanted to achieve.
The applicant Thomas Bjørnskau lives in Kampala together with his wife and children. He edits as well as does the photography for Start Magazine, an online art magazine initiated by two Ugandan artists.
We thought he would be able to benefit from the workshop, an experience which could be useful for the work he does in Uganda. It turned out to be a good choice. Thomas worked with Gadafi, a student who grew up and still lives in Katanga. Gadafi speaks good English, a fact that we knew beforehand. The two were a real team and came up with an intriguing series of portraits of the members of Gadafi’s soccer team Kahn FC.
By Andrea Stultiens
Text and images by Thomas Bjørnskau
This photo workshop gave me the opportunity to interact on a personal level with the people that we were assigned to portray. I often find it challenging as a foreigner to move around Kampala with a camera. Typically because there are people shouting, turning their heads or running away, and one seldom finds a situation in a crowded place to have an atmosphere where one could work with the subject one on one.
Working with an assignee as well as trying to identify a story for our subjects engages you to work on a multiple set of skills. Throughout the workshop, I tried my best to interview different kids and adults who live in conditions that I myself could not really grasp. So I decided that I needed to find anchors for each person’s life, and on a personal level have been able to cope with their stories because my assignment ultimately is about creating positivity.
During the photo shoots themselves, it was important to work with motion so as to bring my subjects into their comfort zone. Since my narrative was about the importance of a football team, using football movements quickly became the entry point for my photographic direction. I also wanted to make the shoots within an environment that included anything that was already present in my subjects living rooms. One part of me liked these worn out, sporadic backgrounds for aesthetic reasons, but of course – these kids deserve better, which made it a bit uncomfortable.
Ssemakula Gaddafi’s football team KAHN FC has all-in-all been a rewarding first meeting within a slum area in Kampala, Uganda.
Eight years ago, Ssemakula Gaddafi – then 14 years old – started KAHN FC, a football team in Katanga, Kampala. Many kids in this area grew up with the team.
Jovan (team pos. No. 1) enjoys early walks, that lead him to places where he can listen to his favourite music, hip-hop and dance.
Karim (team pos. No. 2) supports Arsenal and dreams of becoming a professional football player.
Sudaiz (team pos. No. 6) works in a gas station and dreams of finding a wife and having kids.
Derrick (team pos. No. 7) enjoys being on the pitch. He is good at passing and knowing where the other players are.
Agonza (team pos. No. 8) works as an artist. He makes company signs to bring home money for him and his family.
Bonny (team pos. No. 8) will study hard to get good grades. His ambition is to study medicine to fulfill his dream of helping people in need.
Kato (team pos. No. 11) works every day at a building site, a lung illness made it difficult for him to continue playing football.
Andrea Stultiens does things with photographs. She makes them, collects them, looks at them, thinks and writes about them, and sometimes she makes the results of this visible to the rest of the world. She is amazed by how we are influenced by our environment. By how we take control of that environment, how we mould a fictional variant of ‘real life’ and remember it with the help of photography.
Thomas Bjørnskau, a 42-year old Norwegian. He moved to Kampala in 2010 due to his wife’s newest posting for the Norwegian Embassy. He is currently the Editor of Startjournal.org – an online journal about arts and culture in East Africa. Thomas is educated in business, and previously worked in the field of web design and interactive communication for ten years. During the period from 2000 – 2006 he lived abroad in Hong Kong, Beijing and Vienna, where he wrote two novels, one of which was published in Norwegian. He is a fond believer in gender equality, enjoying long paternity leaves given that his wife is the family’s breadwinner. Thomas considers his various career changes, initiated by changes in his wife’s diplomatic postings, to be creatively important. Since 2000, he has had a keen interest in photography.
All images courtesy of the respective artists. All rights reserved.
Where is Kampala, Uganda?