This month the spotlight is on a photographer whose work I've been following for about three years now: Jerry Barnett. I love how he captures people in their element. His photos are so natural, which makes a change from a lot of the airbrushed stuff out there.
Jerry Barnett is a London-based technologist and political activist who began taking a serious interest in photography around 2000, and has done professional photography work since 2007, when he has time to spare between running a small software business and engaging in political activism. While in London, his photography is usually focused on music and musicians, along with portrait shoots and the occasional wedding. Africa has always been a place of deep fascination for him, and he takes his camera there when he can; he has carried out three trips to West Africa in the past three years, visiting six countries.
I asked him to compile a few of his favourites and I (cheekily) picked my favourite from his selection. Here it is:
Who better to tell you about the photo than the man himself?
"This was taken during a bike ride in Casamance, the southernmost region of Senegal. After a stay in the busy capital, Dakar, I'd travelled by overnight ferry to Ziguinchor, the Casamance regional capital, and spent some time travelling around the region. Casamance is sleepy, very scenic and friendly, a gently hilly landscape that becomes more marshy towards the coast. This shot was taken between Oussouye, a pretty inland town, and the coastal town of Cabrousse.
On a journey like this, I stop often to take photos of the scenery or people. This woman had been walking with friends, probably back from shopping at a market. It was taken a little before midday, as the sun was becoming hot (though this was in January, so the heat was comfortable), and presumably she was heading home to make lunch. I saw that her tall elegance (a typical look of Senegalese/Gambian women) along with the backdrop, the child on her back, and the large yellow golfing umbrella, could make for an interesting portrait.
I always ask if I want to take a close-up shot of a person - generally not if the shot is wider. Sometimes, especially in more touristy areas, people will ask for payment; I always refuse to pay for a photo. If you're travelling in a poor country, it's far better to spare your money for hard-working people rather than those who have become skilled at extracting money from tourists for doing nothing. Buying food and souvenirs from locals, trying to stay in locally-owned accommodation are far better ways of helping the local economy than giving money to touts and beggars. In less touristy parts like this one, it's unlikely people will ask for money; however, having a photograph taken is a relatively expensive luxury for many Africans (every town of any size will have at least one photo studio), and I often offer to email a copy of the photo (Internet cafés are becoming widespread in West Africa)."
I love the cultural/ethnic element to this photo. My eye is instantly drawn to the subject but without overlooking the calm scenery.
If you want to know more about Jerry's work or have a look at some more of his wonderful photos you can do so at: www.blackandwhitebritain.com and www.facebook.com/jerrybarnettphotography;
You can also follow Jerry on Twitter www.twitter.com/JerryBarnett .
Which photographer's do you follow and why?