Our first Prints For Prints project was quite the ride! Having only worked with the printers a few times before we left, we were a bit nervous about how we would perform in the field under extreme conditions. And we also did not know how we would work as a group, in Africa.
Soon after we arrived, we met up with my transportation and translator team in Ethiopia and they surprised us by taking us to see a football match between Ethiopia and Nigeria projected on a big screen which was set up in a beautiful park. It was the perfect place for both groups to get to know each other in a spirited setting.
The next morning, we got up early, grabbed our gear, and set out to go to Sheno, Ethiopia, the childhood home of our guide, Dani. His family let us set up the printers in their home so we could make photos and give prints to his extended family and to villagers around the area. It did not take long to get the process up and running, and within a few minutes we cranked out our first print.
It was a beauty!
I also brought prints that I had made before I left from images captured a year before and gave them to the family. It was an honor to spend time in this village and to see how much our prints were appreciated.
Once our process was humming along, we then branched out and made prints in various locations around Addis Ababa and in smaller villages outside of the city, some as far away as Lalibela and Arba Minch.
One other commitment of the Prints For Prints project is to train local students on various aspects of photography, in one-on-one sessions. We were fortunate to be able to coordinate this training with DESTA for Africa and the Nike Foundation’s Girl Hub projects.
It was especially gratifying to watch local students in the workshop take over the printing, and make and donate prints to others that they met on the streets and in compounds.
We printed from any spot we could find, and even sometimes while on the go!
We also loved giving our cameras to the subjects and letting them photograph us. Such fun!
We made prints in places we never imagined, such as on top floors of high rise construction sites, and also in hospitals in remote areas of the Afar region.
I also brought a print for each market worker I had photographed a year ago. We laid the prints out on the ground, and people searched for those they saw in the prints. My Ethiopian friend Habtamu and I gave each worker who arrived a print of themselves and they were really happy to receive it.
Here are two of my finished portraits, created in two scenarios. The first image is Fatuma and her daughter Semed, right outside of their kitchen where they prepare food for a hospital in the Afar region. The second image shows Raya in his place of employment, a construction site in the Bole region of Ethiopia.
There is much to process about this first trip, and I look forward to making a few changes to the process so that we can have an even better experience during the next offering of this service.
Thank you to the community of photographers and other supporters who generously donated their prints, time and ideas to make this project fly!
Joni Kabana, Portland, Oregon, USA