In Oliolomutia village, Kuyan Sumare and Sempere Letura (left) go for the ball in a game of soccer, the most popular sport among the Maasai. Men and women formerly wore sandals home-made from cowhide but they are now made from old tires or plastic.
Kenya – Photo Tip

Get to the center of the action

Photo by Ton Koene

Kenya – Photo Tip Get to the center of the action

Photographing the Maasai can be complicated, as they know they are a tourist attraction and expect money in return for being models. After a lengthy negotiation with the chief of this village, he agreed that I could spend four days in there to photograph daily life.

Ton Koene
Ton Koene Travel Photographer

But I first had to buy them a bag of rice. A fair business deal. The chief let all the villagers know and I then just blended in, with nobody too bothered by my presence.

As always, the early hours were magnificent, with soft lighting from the morning sun. The blue sky, the green trees, the red Maasai dresses are a colorful combination. When the sun sets again, and the tourist were rushing back to their lodges, the Maasai warriors started playing football on some open land, just like boys all over the world.

To photograph this scene I used a wide-angle lens, which creates a sense of being in the middle of the action. Well, not just a sense – I had to get very close and in fact became one of the players.

On day two, the chief asked to talk to me urgently in his hut. Wearing his lion-skin head-dress, he told me he now needed a second bag of rice. I feared this would happen every day, so I said I would buy another bag when I finished the project. He was not too happy with that but eventually agreed.

After all the frustration of arranging photo shoots elsewhere, life in Africa can be very easy.

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The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Many Maasai tribes welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. Photo by Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Canon EOS 5D

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/500
ISO
200
Focal
24 mm

The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Many Maasai tribes welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle.

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