From 2012 to 2014 I was on the road all across West Africa. I rode in a Mercedes 911 (an old firefighter’s truck, borrowed from the moving photography school “Atelier Nomade.”) I met them everywhere: Mauritania, Guinea Conakry, Senegal, Mali & Burkina Faso. Them was photographers of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.

Nowadays, digital photography is used (almost) all around the world. But these photographers are still equipped with old silver-based cameras, equipment dating from the 70s and 80s. In the words of Mohamed, a photographer from Mauritania, “We never had any photography training in our lives, we only learnt how to use our camera by ourselves, that’s why our pictures don’t look professional at all. Once everyone gets their own camera, they won’t need us anymore. Who knows, maybe they will shoot even better than us. We will disappear little by little and only the laboratories will remain, for the customers.”

Feeling that I was between two pages of African photography history, I wanted to immortalize them with their third eye, inside their kitschy studios or outside, during wedding or ceremonies. Pride, shyness, fun—hidden behind their lenses, each photographer had his own way of reacting, of looking at me, of holding his camera.

These photos are my way of showing the realities of a business, a way of life, an era that is almost over.

—Adrien Tache

Don’t miss the work of
all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2014. In total, you’ll find 25 powerfully told stories from across the world.