A pupil prepares for a debate in a darkened classroom at Paulina’s Queensland School in Agbogbloshie, set up by local former teacher Paulina Nlando. Primary education is free in Ghana, but parents pay fees for everything from exams to admission and high school can be prohibitively expensive.
Ghana – Photo Tip

How one word can make you a better photographer

Photo by Yepoka Yeebo

Ghana – Photo Tip How one word can make you a better photographer

Accra, Ghana is an incredibly social place. If you wander around an unfamiliar neighborhood silently taking pictures of anything – people, inanimate objects, buildings – you will probably be yelled at, and someone will definitely try to extort money from you.

Yepoka Yeebo
Yepoka Yeebo

Instead, you’re expected to say a polite “Hello!” to everyone around and strike up a conversation before you shoot. I did an extreme version of this in Accra’s Sodom and Gomorrah slum, spending hours and sometimes days getting to know my subjects and scenes before shooting. I wanted people at ease, and going about their daily business mostly unaware of the camera.

This is how the picture of the schoolgirl reading in a shaft of light in her otherwise darkened classroom came about (above). Hanging out gave me time to play with slower exposures – there was no other light in the room – and fade into the background.

Most of my time shooting was spent avoiding Ghana’s harsh, blue-toned daylight. I sometimes got around this by carefully underexposing my shots, but by far my favorite approach was to shoot at golden hour, dawn and dusk, as I did in the shot of a merchant pulling a cart through the slum (below). The streets are cooler, the pace is slower, and the city is bathed in light with an almost dream-like quality.

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A merchant pulls a cart of locally-made industrial-grade oil through Agbogbloshie. The small workshops and sprawling markets of Accra’s Central Business District make it one of the few places in the country where people shut out of the formal economy can find work. Photo by Yepoka Yeebo

Yepoka Yeebo

Yepoka Yeebo

Nikon D700

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/2500
ISO
400
Focal
24 mm

A merchant pulls a cart of locally-made industrial-grade oil through Agbogbloshie. The small workshops and sprawling markets of Accra’s Central Business District make it one of the few places in the country where people shut out of the formal economy can find work.

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