The excitement could be felt in the bus. A group of 14 journalists who had made the cut to participate in a National Geographic and Internews photo camp in Kisii were finally headed there. Another participant was eagerly waiting at the camp.
They couldn’t wait to get transformed into visual storytellers, thanks to the National Geographic crew who are known for their highest standards in visual storytelling.
“Whenever I send my editor photos, ‘out of focus’ is his usual comment,” says Joyce Kimani. “I’m here to learn how to focus and submit better photos,” she adds.
Despite their late arrival in Kisii, it did not stop the eager photographers from attending their first session that night.
The 15 journalists who also report on health were documenting ‘30 years of HIV in Kenya’ with Kisii county, which has a HIV prevalence of eight per cent (UNAIDS 2012 data), as a case study. The County is among the ten most affected by HIV in Kenya.
The journalists did not only learn technical photography skills but gained from the experience of the National Geographic crew who brought to the photo camp more than 100 years of experience.
The camp had a very hands-on approach with participants spending more than half the time of the six days in the field. The intensive training was geared towards giving participants insights into the art of photography as a medium of storytelling.
The work by the participants will constitute an important body of work in Kenya’s history.
With the skills from the camp, the journalists who work in different parts of the country will continue updating this project with the aim of producing an archive marking different milestones since the first case of HIV was reported in Kenya.
For some this training came at a time when they had just realised how much they needed it. “I was given an assignment by CNN,” says Elvis Maoro, “On submitting the assignment, their response was that ‘those aren’t the kind of images we were looking for.’ I felt bad,”.
The photo camp concluded with a screening of the participants’ work on the last evening of the camp.