Though we often travel throughout Ethiopia and the region we really enjoy being home. And home for Ayaana is Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. When home we try and work on personal projects around the community. These are a selection of portraits we’ve recently completed in hopes of showing our ability to capture environmental portraits with location lighting. Enjoy!
A few months back we submitted a proposal to the Swiss embassy here in Ethiopia to expand Dhugasho and grow it's reach. From research we've found Somalis are by and large accessing Dhugasho via mobile phones. We wanted to show this in the images we included in the proposal. Take a look at what we came up with and be sure to follow Dhugasho on Facebook here.
With the number of social media apps growing daily it’s becoming increasingly important for companies and NGOs to have lots of visual content for their audience. This is one of the reasons why an image library can be so valuable. It gives you a pool of assets which last a long time and can be used outside of social media.
We’ve worked with CCL before (see here), we love their mission and were excited about the idea of creating a library for them to utilize. It was a quick shoot with a short turnaround but that didn’t prevent us from making some high quality images.
This shoot took place in and around their offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We came away with some real world situations that exemplifies who CCL is and what they do.
Helvetas is a Swiss development organization doing a lot of work in Ethiopia. From suspended foot bridges (yes, you read that correctly) to vocational training, they are partnering with the community to increase sustainability and build generational change.
For this short film they wanted us to capture the impact their partnerships with vocational training institutions are having for families and their communities. There is a big demand for skilled workers in Ethiopia and these schools can play a role in filling that need.
Helvetas’ way of placing people in these programs is different though. They use an incentive model when partnering with schools. The institutions are only paid 80% of the student fees up front while the remaining 20% is paid once the trainee has found a steady job or has established a successful business.
Already they are seeing results. About 2,000 people have already received a three month training (80% of which are women) and over 75% of them have gained employment. Those are exciting numbers and it’s this kind of outside-the-box thinking which got us excited to do this film!
CCL's goal is “to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.”
We are fortunate enough to work with one of their 12 global offices on a regular basis. To date we have done several short documentary films for their office in Addis Ababa as well as an build up an image library to use in their proposals, advertising and social media.
After getting to know CCL, we discovered that not only did they have great stories from their work in the Horn of Africa, but they have great stories from within their organization. Aspiring to produce something that explained the culture and vision of the company, we featured three women who began as mentors in college, then started leading those very programs and eventually started working with CCL in an official capacity.
We love CCL’s mission to use their 40+ years of research to grow leaders across the world through contextualized instruction. Stay tuned to see more of our work with with them!
Have you flown with Ethiopian Airlines in the last year? If so, you may have noticed this coffee cover feature of the in-air Selamta Magazine. One of our photographers was brought on to contribute his photos to the Nov-Dec 2018 issue telling the story of coffee. Here is a glimpse into the article! You can still see the complete digital article here.
This November we launched our latest book, Vintage Addis Ababa: Recollections of Everyday People. It was a wonderful evening at Alliance Ethio-Française with an indoor and outdoor photography exhibition, live music, guests from the Swiss and French embassies as well as those who are featured in the book! Below are a few analog photos of the event to fit the vintage aesthetic of the book.
After years of living a rough life Jose Melendez finally got his chance at redemption. A small jewelry store gave him the opportunity to start fresh...by dawning a gold suit and waving to traffic. For a former gangbanger this wasn't a glamorous way to make a living. And with the Florida humidity it certainly wasn't the easiest. But it was all Jose had. While most people would think, "Man, he's got a really rough job," Jose was always positive about his work and genuinely enjoyed it.
There were some challenges and great rewards to making this short, as is usually the case. We'll turn it over to the filmmaker, Brian Carlson, to give you more details:
Jose's story was a great one. It simply had to be told.
About a third of the way into shooting it became apparent that filming Jose while he worked would be difficult. You see, Jose works on a street corner. That limits the angles you can shoot him at (at least on wide shots). Furthermore he pretty much repeats the same actions and motions (it was funny to see how well he knew the timing of the traffic lights). In order to break things up a little I had to think outside the box. Besides doing the simple wide/long, static, and detail shots I incorporated some steadi shots. Now I'm not a steadicam expert...by any means. It's an art. Thankfully I only had to do enough steadi for a few shots. I'm really proud of how they came out, particularly the one at 2:46 (which was fun to do. Probably because it was dangerous).
High speed has slowly become a gimmick (ha...I made a pun). Kinda like shallow depth of field was when DSLRs came out. I didn't want the use of high speed to be a gimmick, something to use just because it was available. I think I succeeded in using it appropriately (especially at 1:55 and 2:36).
I had a couple happy accidents while shooting too. The shot where there is a police car in the background (2:30) happened inadvertently (I didn't call a cop for that one). I like how this shot plays off the dialogue of Jose talking about his most memorable experience as Mr. Gold. It was also a great way to juxtapose his past life with his current life. The shot of Jose at 1:06 was also a total accident. I was setting up my camera and checking my exposure and just happened to have the camera rolling. Thankfully he thought I was paying attention and flipped his hat. That scene really shows Mr. Golds character and attitude. The shot at 00:43 of Jose showing me his prison photos on his broken phone was another happy accident. At the end of our interview at his apartment I asked him if he had any prison photos on himself. The phone is such a great illustration of his life at that time. It always pays to be curious and ask lots of questions.
Jose and I became friends through this whole experience, which for me was the greatest reward. Last time I checked he's still out there once a week, waving his hat and strutting his stuff. He also got hired at a local hotel and is working his way up the chain. I know he's got good things ahead of him.
All in all, the film was very well received. To date it has over 200,000 views, was picked up by The Atlantic, was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick, got into the Brooklyn Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, Love Your Shorts Film Festival, Hot Spring Documentary Film Festival, and the Little Rock Film Festival and was featured on local news and radio as well as other sites and outlets.