African Teenagers Take Their Own Photos To Capture A Different View Of Their Home

No focus on war-torn worlds or endangered wildlife here. Just everyday life, from the viewpoint of 18 Gambian teenagers.

Most of the photographs of Africa published around the rest of the world are taken by outsiders and focus on well-worn topics like war or poverty or endangered wildlife. It’s a little less common to simply see images from everyday life, especially taken from the point of view of an African.


That’s one of the reasons a photography student from the U.K. decided to gather up cameras, head to a high school in the Gambia, and teach a photo workshop that invited each student to capture images at home and in their neighborhoods. Many of the students had never used a camera before.

“The students know the landscape, environment, people, and hidden secrets of their culture more than an outsider, and photograph it without prejudice or any judgment,” says Jessica Bishopp, the college student who led the workshop. “The images show a different side to Gambia and in turn Africa, one that the media does not normally see. Its beauty and creativity.”

Eighteen students went through the workshop, and then took pictures based on prompts about the people, places, and objects that mattered in their lives. They captured shots of women braiding each others’ hair, a boy at a sewing machine, sleeping friends, a mother praying, young men hanging out and brewing tea, and a plastic pot holding drinking water.

“The photographs show intimate moments of their families at ease performing daily rituals, moments that a photographer or photojournalist could not capture due to the intimacy and privacy in the images,” says Bishopp.

Bishopp published each of the images in a book called See What I See, and exhibited them at her university, the London College of Communication.

“I hope it will impact the students by showing them that people all over the world are interested in their personal viewpoint,” she says. “I hope it will impact the wider community by exposing a different side to Africa.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.