“She has to know the aperture.” One professional photographer said.
“Yes, I agree. You have to know the ISO, the white balance and the shutter-shock. You can google those terms. I believe you would understand the terms better and maybe capture better images” Another photographer added in agreement. “She needs to know the camera she is using. She has to get used to it. The camera she is using is powerful. She can capture equally good images with what she has. That is all she needs.” Another male photographer chipped in.
“Aper-what? What is ISO 80, white balance, understand a camera? Why? Is the camera a human being??” Those were my thoughts as the professionals bombarded me with the terms and I believe most of us will find ourselves in a similar situation, if we were to be in the midst of these professional photographers. It hardly crossed my mind that people will be so fascinated by cameras and understand it’s language so well. To those of us without the eyes, a camera is a camera. It has to take good photos and we will be fine. But the professionals- Simone Gilges from Berlin, Germany and Mamadou Gomis from Darkar, Senegal and the other photographers I met during a three-day workshop understand images. They understand cameras, lenses and tripod stands. They can tell a relationship between an image and it’s environment. They believe photography is a universal language that is understood by all. I have never met a bunch of people appreciating something so passionately such as a simple image, like these photographers.
The Ghanaian reaction to a camera
The young photographers at the workshop were to capture images that represented the city of Accra. Have you ever tried capturing an image in the middle of the city, while everything showed clearly you aren’t a tourist? I believe Ghanaians react differently to the camera,when they can tell you are not a tourist, but just one of them. The reactions varied, but mostly annoying;
“What are you doing with that around your neck(referring to the camera)?”
“What are you going to do with those images, if I should ask?”
“Are you taking the photos abroad?”
“Herr(a rude way of calling somebody in Ghana), please make sure you do not capture me.(this was a warning directed to me)”
“Please, wait for me to pass before you take that photograph.”
Those were a few of the comments I heard. The most annoying one was, “What do you think you are doing? Do you know it’s a security zone? You may be arrested if you are seen with a camera around here?” My reaction was, “Really? Since when did taking photographs of billboards become a crime in the city?” I didn’t know about that, but I put my camera away because of this ‘national security alert.’
I was capturing another image when all of a sudden, I felt an arm wrapped around my neck, I froze in fear, turned around and saw a dark guy with a very wide smile. I looked at his face trying to see if I recognized him, but he smiled more widely, unperturbed. He asked, ” So what are you doing? Which organization do you work for? What are you going to do with the images?” ” I wish to know, maybe I could also apply.” He added. I just stared at him as if I did not understand the language he was using till he left me alone to capture my images.
Now, I appreciate the work of the photographer better.