Lately I have been busy making long term photo projects and I just thought that it would be nice to keep a quick and short photo diary with a series of daily photographs, taken at the same time of the day during a week or so, for starters. The lunch hour seems most convenient for this. Today as I sat in the Galerie Éthiopiques for a couple of hours and attended one of the ongoing exhibitions, I cleaned my camera and took some test shots through the gallery door. Here is one!
It is the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival weekend and the town is booming with visitors. The famous river boat Bou El Mogdad organized a brunch event this morning with slam and there were lots of people queuing in. They all looked like slammers.
Sheep are having their lunch in a house in the southern part of the island of Saint-Louis.
Late lunch time and the street in front of the prefecture on a quiet Sunday. It is quite rare to see this street so quiet! During weekdays it is very often congested with cars trying to leave the island. As the Faidherbe bridge (behind the building) has just two lanes, the access to the bridge is a real bottleneck, and the lack of discipline in the Senegalese driving culture is not making it any easier!
A room with a view. This is what I see first every morning when I open the shutters in my room. If it’s not goats, it is boys squatting in the building next door in a daara who scavenge the trash and spread it around even more, in the early hours of the morning.
Recently I decided to keep my mind a little more actively on photography (oh how is that even possible I wonder…) and keep a photographic diary and take one photo every day. To mark this day and in lack of interesting street photos, I took a photo of a CD album I’ve been playing all morning, surprised by the vividness of memories that it provoked. If you ever wondered what it is that makes an entrepreneur start his or her venture and actually do it, you might be surprised by their answers. As it happened, I became a coffee roaster while I was still preparing my research degree, and always while roasting, I would listen to music. The fact is that I am more than to anything else attached to African music and that particular sound from many West-African countries, and over the years I have developed a personal archive of songs that throw me back in time to a very precise moment when I first heard any particular song. It’s a kind of a combination of spatial and rhythmic memory of sorts. For example: whenever I hear Salif Keita’s Mandjou, I am immediately teleported to another time where I am swallowing dust in car on my way to Gorom Gorom, with that fantastic feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and all of the time. Similarly, every time I hear Sima Edy by Dub Colossus’s from the album A Town Called Addis, I remember the actual very first days of my home based coffee roasting project when I was frying beans in a pan and then packing them in bags and gluing labels on them with a glue stick! It was around that same time when I heard the album Bambara Mystic Soul for the first time and I just knew in my back bone I should open a place where I could play this album to other people, I just had to! And so I did. I would then create playlists with music that mattered to me and instead of just having some background music to spice the day with it would be yet another way of actively sharing something important.
If I am on travels and out of town, it is the sounds that I start to miss first. I’m not talking about the constant ambulance and police sirens of Brussels, but the human sounds of Saint-Louis, including the sabar and the tannebeer and other frequent gatherings accompanied by intensive drumming. The connection between sound and memory is immensely interesting! A classic question: What are the songs that you would have with you at all times? My list would be quite long..
One photograph for each day of this brand new year. I am not very good at this kind of projects but let’s give it a try! My plan is to have my film camera not only on my mind but close at hand daily. It’s nice to see how this immediately affects the way you look at things and how you react to the surrounding light, or to the lack of it as I am starting the whole thing in Brussels in January when its really dark even in the middle of the day. Street photography is also fun because it makes you look slightly weird when you’re considering whether to shoot or not. And it makes you stop while the rest of the world keeps busy.
For the record: I am publishing here smartphone “duplicates” of my photos. Otherwise you would get updates only every few months or so. Just follow my trail in the album!