I went to Gambia thinking the hardest aspect of the country to capture would be the people. I’m not a natural portrait photographer and was a little nervous of asking the locals if it was OK to take their picture. Not everybody wants a lens stuck in their face when you’re trying to earn an honest days pay selling fish or vegetables at the market – and that’s fine and to be respected.
But in the end the combination of a good guide, a bit of friendly banter and some polite requests resulted in me not only coming back with hundred of portraits – but also some of my fondest memories from the trip. The friendly interaction with the locals – the kids at Kanuma Village, the stallholders of Brikama market, the old man of the Makasutu Forest…. fantastic memories.
Memories of people are often something you come away with after visiting a foreign country. The people of Gambia I found to be something special. Very hospitable indeed and taking life at a slow and relaxed pace. Rush and panic is something that does not happen in Gambia.
I found Gambian people to be extremely polite. Softly spoken but not shy. never choosing to get into arguments the Gambian people love the tranquil way of life and harmony.
There are many tribal groups in the country. For example the Mandinka, but also Wolof, Fula, Jola and Serahule. the capital of Gambia, Banjul is where the Wolof are concentrated and in the country and rural areas the main group is the Mandinka.
All have their own cultures, traditions etc but the way they all live in harmony has given way to a combination of all being a Gambian culture.
When visiting a country it is always great to discover some of the local foods and traditions. For instance a main one is Jollof rice (benachin), which is a dish of spiced meat and veg with tomato puree and of course cooked with rice.
Palm wine is interesting too. Basically they collect the sap from the top of a certain kind of palm tree. The sap is low alcohol sweet when drawn immediately. But if left a few hours to ferment it becomes stronger in alcohol and less sweet but more sour.
leave it too long or over a day you get vinegar!
The people in these portrait photographs have left an imprint on me together with everyone I met in Gambia. People helping to naturally create wonderful memories and moments.
I have nothing more that I can say but enjoy the beauty, elegance and dignity of the Gambian people.
Thank you to the people of Brikama Market, Mandina Lodges, Makasutu Forest and Kanuma Village. Thank you The Gambia Experience. Thank you Gambia.