When we research and we are on a field trip, our mission is to learn as much as possible about the country, its culture and its people. We have to develop our sense of empathy, to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we meet and understand the different constraints, emotions, motivators which draw their lives.
So we take photographs. A lot of photographs. They are here to tell a story and to allow our readers (designers, engineers, educators…) to dive into this world, so radically different.
But we cannot reasonably pretend that all the pictures we take are as true and transparent as we wish them to be. There is always this barrier, this distance that the subject put between us. Sometimes, with the right dose of efforts and luck, we succeed in reducing the barrier, and the camera disappears. But these moments are rare and we don’t always have the occasion to dive into people’s lives as much as we would want to.
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Robert Capa
So to get closer, we decided to disappear.We put the power into the hands of the participants and reversed the situation. We gave one disposable camera each, to three university Students from Nairobi, and 5 days to photograph their lives, far from our judgemental eyes. We asked pictures from their home, their neighborhood, their school, their friends, the places where they like to hang out…
The results are surprising and bring the extra context and information we needed. These pictures are a gift, they tell us a story and immerse us into the real life, without artifacts, of young Kenyan students.