Street photography brings out the candid moments and reflects the regular lives of people as they go about life. It gives a glimpse into the lives of every culture in any country. Whether it’s a person riding on a bicyle whilst texting or a little girl getting her braids done each moment captured on a smartphone or dslr tells a deep visual story.
Shooting street photography in Accra is not much different from doing same in some cities. it is not an exactly photo friendly city in all honest opinion. The city has a lot of history but less artsy locations, events and monuments to shoot at. If not for annual art festivals like #ChaleWote2015 there’s little going on in the city with regards to festivals and large outdoor events.
I have been on several photowalks in Accra and led one in Kumasi in May for the Blogging Ghana Blogwalk event. There was a such marked difference between taking street photos in the two cities. The difference being the reaction of people to your shooting. Kumasi citizens are more photo friendly than people in Accra.
When shooting street photography in Accra whether as a tourist or during a photowalk take note of the following tips and cautions:
1. DO NOT not take photos of military, and government buildings. This is common in most cities in the world. Unless those institutions have contracted you, it’s a no-go area.
2. We have national monuments such as the Black Star Square the second largest city square in the world, Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park etc. Some security men there would try and exhort monies from you as you try to take photos. Take a stance and not pay. It’s a national monument like the Eiffel Tower and I don’t recollect anyone asking me to pay for taking photos of the Old Lady. Unless you are taking close up shots of the Independence Arch which you might need permission for; the rest is free to your lens.
3. DON’T take photos of people without asking their permission. DO ask their permission by explaining what the photo is for. You can score points by speaking in their native language (ask them if they speak Twi or Ga depending on the locality you are shooting in) If you have a local guide all the better. Taking a local guide opens up an area to you which you would have never been able to access on your own. This was very useful during the blogwalk in Kumasi. Failure to do so will result in colourful insults being rained on your head. Your request could be met with a scowl and a negative response. Just thank them and move on.
4. DO assure the subjects that they will not be coming into the photo but you are interested in the work they are doing. You can show them the photo afterward to reassure them.
5. DO show the subject ofyour photograph after taking the shot. It brings a smile to their face. I got a lot of it during the photowalk in Kumasi.
6. When taking photos of buildings (non-military/non-governmental) if there’s someone within the building or sitting infront of it, give them notice before doing so. You are likely to get enquiries of what you are up to.
7. DO use your smartphone for quick grab photos. This is convenient for areas which may not be dlsr friendly.
8. DO use small sized lens. You don’t want to scare people with long lenses being pointed in their faces.
9. DO take a power bank with you for your smartphone. The ever-endless power crisis in the country, which according to Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndwom will not end this year; hasn’t abated and you need a back-up for your phone.
Gone on any photowalks in Accra? What was your experience? Good, bad or ugly? Share in the comments below and lets discuss how we can build content on Ghana using photography.