Jamaican Corner

Photographer Olivia Rose remembers meeting Mr Right Now, Dutty, Jay, Little Nas, Yankee and the rest of the boys at Jamaican Corner


In 2013, feeling creatively stagnant in London, I made a poorly-thought-out plan to go and shoot gang culture in Kingston. Embarking on a three month-journey to New York, Bermuda and Jamaica with my assistant Jay, I arrived on the last leg of my trip feeling fragile and a little hesitant, having left Bermuda with my arm in a sling.

Within fifteen seconds of arriving at our apartment in Kingston – steel-gated, smack bang in the middle of a run-down, busy street in Kencot – a man screeched his motorbike to a halt right in front of us. He introduced himself as Mr Right Now (his real name was Erroll Williams), and we could see that he was gentle, funny and genuinely interested in the new tourists that had landed on his street, Central Road. Telling us that he could “get anyting ya need, Right Here, Right Now,” he walked us down to his street-side shop – a place that would eventually become the epicentre of our experience at ‘Jamaican Corner.’ After selling us a couple of Red Stripes to take the edge off travelling, Right Now – who was always smiling like a Cheshire cat – took us to meet the boys.

It was pitch black by the time we walked on pock-marked terrain in search of weed, with Right Now’s best friend Cloud leading the way. We paid five US dollars that night for a “box a weed” that was enough to last us a week, with a little bit of grabba (raw tobacco leaf) thrown in for good measure. Cloud, who will tell anyone that “mi one true love is marijuana,” walked us back to Right Now’s shop where he started cutting up the bud with a machete on a wooden block. We had a heady first night smoking back in our apartment. As we listened to the rest of the street carrying on over the other side of the gate, the thought of spending the next sixteen days there was thrilling and paralysing.


Right Now and Cloud

Throughout our stay, the boys did everything and more to make us feel welcome. They rewound the song if they saw us jamming to it and made sure their guests had a chair and a drink at all times. If ever I fell asleep in the yard, my head wouldn’t drop without finding the comfort of Cloud’s shoulder. As I melted in the 40-degree heat, the boys moved my chair through the day to chase the shadows, telling me: “Fluffy, ya skin a burn! Sun is hot like fiyah! Keep cool, Fluffy!” In Kingston, you SWEAT. Suddenly the humble bandana made a lot of sense; the boys all seemed to have one tucked in their pocket or tied round their head, something on hand to mop up their brow. I had gained the nickname Fluffy Diva (I thought it was about my curly hair, but fluffy is an affectionate word for ‘big’) and pretty quickly I vetoed the ‘Diva’ so we all settled on ‘Fluffy Empress,’ a name to which I still answer.

During our time in Kingston, Jay and I bought things from Right Now’s shop or locally at Jamaican Corner. If we were thirsty, we had a ten-cent Bagjuice (a soft plastic triangle full of sweet fruit juice that you bite off at the corner and drink straight from the bag), which Right Now kept cold and slushy in the freezer. Every morning one of the boys gave us a jelly (coconut) to start the day, “fi cleanse the belly!” Right Now’s big brother Dutty, the alpha male of the group, worked at the carwash across the street from the shop and I swear I never saw him leave work except to get a jelly from Right Now. Even in a torrential downpour (during which the boys praised Jah for the rain – a welcome break from the heat) Dutty would still be there, working away.


Dutty working at the carwash in Jamaica Corner

The Jamaican attitude is endlessly positive, everything is always “Up Up Up!” so my self-deprecating humour didn’t really compute with the boys. Charmingly, Right Now took me aside one night and asked, “But why ya be down on yaself, Fluffy?” Our miscommunications over the two weeks, as we spoke a mixture of Patois and broken English, were a constant source of amusement. The boys found my accent and Queen’s English hilarious, and I often had to rearrange their sentences to work out what they were saying. It became even funnier when I went back to visit this year because I was able to understand more than I had before. I spent my days slyly listening to their conversations until the boys clocked on that I was laughing along with their jokes, or that I had turned around to look at them when they were talking about me. Right Now’s eyes would go wide: “Oh God Man! She know wha mi say!”

Yankee, Cloud’s cousin, was the joker of the group. Living between Kingston and New York City, he’d developed a little belly that (along with his lisp) the boys loved to bully him for. He’d smack his tummy in response and tell them they were jealous.


Richard ‘Yankee’ Keith

Little Las, who sometimes wore white feathers in his hair, wasn’t much of a talker. As the baby of the group he was more introspective than the others; always present, but a little apart from the group. The boys looked after Little Las the most. It was obvious that he didn’t have the same access to food as everyone else, and I noticed that at every meal one or two of the boys would save something on their plate for him to eat.

I think the only thing that wasn’t shared at Jamaican Corner (including houses; I never quite worked out who lived where) was the weed. At Jamaican Corner, Cloud told us, you roll your own. You might use a little grabba but NEVER tobacco, and never a roach. I tried to share with Cloud one day because I wanted to know what it would be like to smoke a proper Kingston joint, but he told me, “No Fluffy! Mi nah wan fi make you tooo stoned!” Weed was still illegal at that time, so when someone heard a police car was coming, they started a chain of whistling down the street to let people know to hide the weed.

With music blaring at most hours of the day, it feels like everyone in Jamaica is dancing all the time. A few times I caught Sunny or Bembe (the biggest dancers of the group) doing what looked like choreographed dance-offs in front of the shop. Everyone knows the moves to certain songs as if it was on the school curriculum. I went to a dancehall party called Bawsy Tuesdays and watched groups of Japanese dancehall queens doing routines for cameramen with ancient flashbulb video cameras that looked like they belonged in the 50s. Right Now, Cloud and Dutty (all excellent dancers) tried to persuade me to move that night, but my self-conscious London personality got the better of me and I was stiff as a plank.


Andre ‘Black Boy’ Deacon

Black Boy, the fashionista of the group, always in freshly-pressed Ralph Lauren Polo tops and brightly-coloured jeans, took me aside that night, played me Celine Dion from his Blackberry and, looking at me from under batted eyelashes, told me it reminded him of me. The closer it got to my leaving, the more the boys upped their flirting games. The Chef introduced me to his children, Castro started talking about what life would be like if he came home with me, someone even told me he loved me. It was one of the sadder things I saw, these island boys wanting so badly to leave with me in the hope of a better life. For the most part, the boys were perfect gentlemen.

Although I did visit downtown Kingston (I had hired a fixer to take me around different areas before even starting my journey), the real focus of my trip became the boys at Jamaican Corner. By spending every day with them – Right Now banging on the gate to wake us up in the morning, Dutty walking me back home at night to make sure I got there safely – I made lifelong friends. When I went back to visit this year, it was as if I had never left. Of course, some things have changed. The carwash sadly had to close down, but Dutty is now a bus conductor, working as hard as ever. Right Now has expanded his shop and tidied out the yard a bit so that his baby mama and kid could move in, and Little Las got really tall (and a bit cheeky too). But equally, some things at Jamaican Corner will always stay the same. Black Boy is still wearing freshly-pressed Ralph Lauren polo shirts. Right Now still gives Bagjuice away to the local kids who can’t afford to buy them. Cloud’s one true love is still marijuana. Sitting down to play dominos with them on the day I left this year, I felt truly grateful to have friends who accepted me so quickly and to this day make an effort to stay in touch. I think Right Now must have called me at least once a week for the last two years. Big Up Yaself, Jamaican Corner!

Detroit Unbroken Down

Portraits of life in America’s great Motor City, after a great fall. By Dave Jordano


Detroit is my hometown, but I’ve been gone for over three decades. My father, who worked all his life for General Motors, used to joke that our family had motor oil running in our veins. Even after all these years away, I still believe there is some small truth in what he said.

These photographs are my reaction to all the negative press that Detroit has had to endure over the past several years. I was initially drawn to the same subjects other photographers were interested in; the crumbling factory interiors, the empty lots and burned-out houses that consume a third of the city, the massive abandoned commercial infrastructure. It took me a week of shooting this kind of subject matter to realise I was contributing nothing to a subject most people already knew a lot about.

I began looking at the various neighbourhoods within the city and all the people who live in them. Despite the harsh reality of living in a post-industrial city that has fallen on the hardest of times, the human condition does thrive. Notwithstanding the recent press about Detroit’s efforts to rebound from its recent bankruptcy, which is in all ways promising, my focus continues to rest on the current conditions that affect many of those who have fallen through the cracks. The lives of these forgotten and marginalised poor people will only minimally be improved by the recent redevelopment of the city.

I’ve found that most Detroiters wear their pride for the city much like an honoured badge of courage. If you can survive here, you can survive just about anywhere. My hope is that this work will convey that Detroit is a city made up of many small communities, all building a way of life through perseverance, hope, and sheer determination. It is a city clinging to the vanished ideals of an urban oasis that once hailed itself as one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities in America, and has now fallen from grace. This project is not about what’s been destroyed, but about what’s been left behind.


Sara and Shad, Goldengate Street, 2013

Goldengate Street is a unique community of outsiders who choose to live self-sufficiently and off-grid. Abandoned houses that once dotted the street have been taken over by a group who call themselves ‘Fireweed Universe City’. Collectively, everyone lives and works as a group; repairing houses, cooking communal meals, gardening and raising chickens together. They have involved themselves with the local community by establishing a bicycle repair shop where kids in the area can learn to build and maintain a bike for free. They also founded a community centre that provides movie nights, open mic events, and self-defence training.

The street has also become a popular destination for couch surfers who come from all over the world. Visitors can stay for free so long as they volunteer to help out the community. Their efforts are a positive change for one of the most decimated and blighted areas in Detroit.

Shad and Sara were new arrivals to Goldengate Street in 2013. Sara has stayed but Shad comes and goes.


Mary with family and friend, Goldengate Street, 2012

Mary and her daughter Claire live full-time on Goldengate in a house that she is squatting in but the owner lets her stay there. It’s better than letting the house sit empty and be subject to scrappers and vandals.


Diane sleeping, 2013

Diane was homeless and had nowhere to stay so a friend had agreed to take her in for a few days. I chose to photograph her sleeping because when you sleep your mind is at peace and your problems don’t exist. The next time I stopped by to check on her she had moved on.

glemieGlemie, 2011

Glemie, a retired truck driver and fifty-year resident of Detroit, is an accomplished blues singer, but he’s also known for his small game hunting skills. Every fall he hunts an average of 150 raccoons, which he skins, dresses, and sells as food to clients. This extra income supplements his meagre retirement benefits. Born in southern Arkansas and the son of a sharecropper, Glemie was often required to pick 100 pounds of cotton a day as a child and raccoon was often the staple family meal of the day.


Charlie with his bike, 2012

Charlie has had every car he’s ever owned stolen so he bought himself a bike and then personalized it to celebrate his theft-free life.


Algernon with Babe, 2010

Algernon has lived in this house for the past 42 years. After raising four children he now lives alone as a widower and only occupies the first floor of the house. Upkeep has been minimal at best, but the house still maintains elements of its original grandeur. Structures such as this begin to take on a life of their own, gracing themselves with symbolic undertones, such as longevity, memory, and perseverance.


Rogue signage, 2011

This sign was made by Andre Ventura, a resident who lives on the street, after several gun shots were fired while children were playing in the corner park. He said you could hear the bullets flying overhead. The sign (not the gunfire) garnered the attention of several TV and radio stations that covered the story of Andre’s vigilante antics. Andre has made over 250 hand-painted signs that he has placed throughout the city to create awareness about crime, social issues, and political corruption in the city.


Kat in her new house, 2014

Kat (Kathina) took over an abandoned city corner lot next to her house and transformed it into a neighbourhood park complete with lighting, sculpture and flower and vegetable gardens. Her initiative was the first visible improvement to the street in over 30 years.

Kat also takes in homeless people who need shelter and provides them with basic essentials like clothing, blankets and food. All her efforts are supported through the generous donations of friends, and her unyielding faith.

She recently moved into this abandoned house just around the corner from her current residence. She’s in the process of trying to purchase it in order to continue her ongoing mission to improve the neighborhood. I’ve known Kat now for three years and I’ve never met someone who is as devoted to others as she is.


Semira sleeping in Kat’s house, 2012

The child of a homeless mother sleeps in Kat’s bedroom. There are often as many as eight people staying in her small two-bedroom house.


Calvin with his pit bull, 2011

Calvin does maintenance work for local Burger King restaurants. He was cleaning out his work truck when one of his pit bulls came running out of the house. He owns three in total and they’re all well-trained, friendly dogs. He says there are no bad pit bulls, only bad owners.


Mo, birdman of Detroit, 2012

Mo loves pigeons and has been raising them ever since he was a young boy living in Iraq. In the past 50 years he has raised more than 2,000 of them. He has built several makeshift pigeon coops that are either attached to his modest house or around his yard, and at any one time there could be over one hundred birds living on his property. His neighbourhood is notorious for prostitution and his tenant Lori, a local hooker who has been living with him for the past two years, helps share the living expenses of the household. Mo prefers not to know what Lori does and he will not let her bring customers into the house, but through the shared arrangement they have each found companionship and mutual support.


Angela and Aya, North Corktown, 2010

Angela is one of a growing number of young, urban agra-farmers who have moved back into the city and taken over abandoned city lots to farm on. Detroit has been designated a food desert meaning that there’s not one national chain grocery store within the city limits. Residents instead have to rely on their own initiative if they want to have fresh produce that is readily available, and literally hundreds of community gardens have sprung up all over the city to counter the shortage.


Brad, 2010

Brad will scrap this abandoned factory site for the next year, digging in the ground and taking from it about 1,000 pounds of recyclable metal a day. He will make on average $110 for a day’s work. He’s been unable to find employment, but took it upon himself to find a way to earn some money and to do something positive about his situation.


Charles, Eastside, 2015

Charles has been squatting in this abandoned house for the last six months. The crane company he worked for went out of business after they lost all of their automotive contracts to foreign competition. Recently divorced and unable to find work and his unemployment benefits depleted, he’s trying to fix up this abandoned house by salvaging materials from other abandoned buildings. His house was recently ransacked by thieves that broke in and stole what little valuables he had.


Caprice with her nieces in the Polka Dot Garden, Eastside, 2014

Robert, an 85-year-old retired interior decorator was afraid that an empty lot behind his house was going to be filled with trash so he began creating his imaginary ‘Polka Dot Garden’ to protect the property. It’s a place filled with fanciful sculpture and flowering plants that the neighborhood children can enjoy.


Patricia, 2012

Patricia in her new house on Goldengate Street with her cigarette ration


Andrew harvesting his garden, 2012

Andrew and his wife Kinga live almost entirely off of what their garden produces throughout the year. They live on a street where many of the residents trade and barter with each other.


Hakeem, 2012

Broke, divorced, and after losing his business, Hakeem found his salvation through his Muslim faith. He scraped up $500 to purchase a run-down house on the north side of town and now repairs cars from an abandoned two-car garage across the alley from his house. Turning a small room of his house into a place for meditation and reflection, he continually writes original phrases of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and factual titbits on his walls that guide his moral and spiritual life. Always positive of mind, he doesn’t see himself as a victim anymore, but someone who accepts adversity as a metaphor to building one’s character.


Lynn Guyton, 2010

Lynn is the brother of Tyree Guyton, founder of the famed Heidelberg Project, Detroit’s most well-known and visited social arts project that addresses urban blight issues plaguing the city. heidelberg.org.


Marcus and Bey-Bey, 2012

Two brothers who have tattoos on their chests memoralizing the death of their mother who died from an asthma attack at the age of 34.


Miss Louise, Brightmoor, 2013

Miss Louise is a 42-year resident of the Brightmoor area, one of Detroit’s most blighted neighbourhoods. She said she still likes the area and she’ll stay until the day she dies because, as she puts it, “where else am I going to go?”. She always has a positive attitude about everything in spite of the constant crime and slowly watching her neighborhood completely empty out.


Migo, 2011

Migo’s house has been broken into over twenty times so as a political statement he placed worthless items in his front yard so the “junkies could take the junk”. His house is flanked by two gated parking lots and a new apartment housing complex. The neighbours are not amused, but he doesn’t care anymore.


Los with his toy gun, 2014

The only kind of weapon he believes people should be allowed to carry in Detroit, or anywhere for that matter.


Tom’s house, 2011

After living on the street for several years, Tom took over a small patch of abandoned industrial property perched along the Detroit River. He has spent the last twelve years at this location and has built three small structures there, all of them made from discarded materials he finds in construction dumpsters. The first was a small 4 x 5 x 4 foot hut that he built on top of a 15-foot high abandoned rail line. He lived in this structure for seven years. He then built a 7 x 10 foot cabin tall enough for him to stand up in. He replaced his first structure with a slightly larger one that he made with walls that had six inches of insulation. He uses that structure to live in during the winter and heats it with candles.


Tom digging his new foundations, 2014

Currently Tom is in the process of building a 16 X 16 foot structure that will have two floors. He has completed the foundation which he dug out by hand and predicts it will take him two years to build, having few tools. Extremely resourceful, introspective, and independent, Tom has lived these past several years without heat, electricity, or running water.

Detroit Unbroken Down is published by PowerHouse Books


A modern-day Huck Finn hunting for treasure along the beaches, forest trails and sidewalks of the Pacific Northwest. By Jenny Riffle


My boyfriend Riley is the subject of my series Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting. We met ten years ago through my brother, who was managing a restaurant where Riley was working at the time. Riley always impressed me with his excellent sense of adventure. One of the first times we hung out, we hiked up to some hot springs with a group of friends in the middle of the night. Riley led us up a mountain with no trail and found the hot springs in the dark.

I was lucky to spend a lot of my childhood in a cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity; it was a childhood full of make-believe. I was always playing in the forest or running through the meadow fighting imaginary battles. I recognised a similar sense of adventure in Riley. I fell for him immediately and we have been together ever since.

Riley has been a treasure hunter his whole life. He grew up in rural parts of Utah, Idaho and Washington, where he spent afternoons digging through dumps and wandering the country roads looking for old beer cans. He got his first metal detector when he was eleven and started looking for rare coins, gold, silver and anything else he could find.

Riley has to work because he doesn’t make a living off his scavenging, but he spends all his free time treasure hunting and it does earn him some extra cash. One of his most valuable finds was an 18 karat gold ring worth $500 that he found just a couple years ago. His favourite find was also one of his first; a quarter from 1899 that he dug up in his backyard when he was in kindergarten. Some of his finds are monetarily worthless but have a historic or mythological value.

I started working with Riley on the Scavenger series in 2009. I think I am nearing the end of the project, although it is hard to stop taking photos of him. As a photographer I am always searching for the next photograph, much like Riley is searching for treasure. On some level, I think we are all drawn to the thrill of the hunt.

These are the stories behind some of the photos.


High Tide
Two books that inspired Riley as a child were Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this image, I think he embodies the character of Huck Finn with the water at his side like the Mississippi River and the hat he is wearing reminiscent of Huck Finn’s own.


The Treasure Hunter
This portrait was taken at a place called Dead Horse Bay, commonly known as Bottle Beach, in the winter of 2010 when Riley and I were living in Brooklyn. The bay is the site of horse processing plants from the time of horse-drawn carriages in the late 1800s. In around 1920, after cars had been invented and horses were used less and less, it became a landfill that New York City used for several decades. The area is now a park, and many items are exposed by the water and left on the beach to be scavenged. Riley would go out there at least once a week to look for gold and other precious metals, coins, and anything else that interested him. In this image he is holding a digging tool that he used to scrape through the sand and dirt to find treasure.


Tom Sawyer’s Gang
The objects Riley collects on his treasure hunts are like relics from a different world. This old rusted gun and handful of marbles were found on Bottle Beach. Looking at the objects together, you can weave a childlike story of excitement and adventure. Is it a real gun? Was it buried in the dump after some crime committed long ago? It reminds me of Tom Sawyer’s gang of children pretending to be robbers or pirates and the marbles they carried around in their pockets that they used like money to trade with each other.


Sorting Change
In this picture Riley is looking through a pile of coins, checking for rare and older coins that are pure copper. He used to go and get pennies from the bank and look through them for hours. As soon as I saw the light in the room I wanted to take this photo, but Riley was annoyed that I needed him to stop and hold his pose. He came up with a compromise: he would only let me take the photo if he could smoke a cigar inside our apartment. I agreed.


These objects all came from Bottle Beach and are a small part of Riley’s collection of silver that he has amassed over the years. The silver objects are both monetarily valuable and historically interesting. I love seeing what he finds and wondering about the lives these treasures had 100 years before.


The Find
In Riley’s hand is an object he found with his metal detector in a backyard in Brooklyn. The object is very rusty, and it is not quite clear what it is yet. Riley finds little monetary reward for treasure hunting since most of his day is spent digging up worthless pull-tabs and random scraps of metal, but the thrill of the hunt is all he needs to keep going. It is moments like this, right as he is pulling the object out of the ground, that are exciting. He does not yet know what he has discovered.


I Got Revenge
One of the many places Riley displays his collected objects is on his clothes. He attaches rusted jewellery from the dump along with pins and metal studs. His jacket is always changing over time as he adds new finds and removes old ones. Recently he has been adding on pull-tabs from the 70s because he came across so many of them when he was metal detecting.


Dump Dolls
This is a collection of toys and dolls that Riley found at Bottle Beach. He brought them home and glued them to the top of our TV set. The walls of our home are covered in photos and magazine clippings that he has been gathering over the years. Riley arranges narrative tableaus throughout our apartment with all of the old objects he finds – for him, these objects are an escape into mythology, into the world of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. As Riley brings long buried and forgotten objects back into the light, trash becomes treasure and acquires new meaning and value.


A Hunt on Overlook Mountain
Riley uses a metal detector and goes all over Seattle (or wherever we happen to be living or visiting), searching in parking strips – between the sidewalk and the street – or in the yards of old abandoned houses and buildings. This photo was taken when we were still living in New York and we found out about an abandoned, falling-down mountain retreat called Overlook Mountain House, in the Catskill Mountains. Riley is metal detecting after hiking up to the top of Overlook Mountain. I climbed to the top of a fire lookout to get this photo. It was windy and I was terrified and had to crawl down after, but I like the camera angle and how the scene becomes a miniature tableau with very dramatic lighting, like a stage set.


Gold Hunt, Vashon Island
We moved to Seattle in 2011 after living in Brooklyn for a couple of years while I was in school, and once we settled Riley did some research on lost treasure in the Seattle area. He discovered a tale of a wealthy logger who buried his gold on Vashon Island then died without telling anyone where it was. Legend has it, the man buried the treasure on the banks of Judd Creek, so one day we went out to Vashon Island to look for it. This is a shot of Riley with his metal detector at the creek’s edge. We didn’t find the gold, but the adventure of going to look for it is exactly what keeps Riley going.

Jenny and Riley in a motel room, Portland, 2005

I love to dress like

I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere. Flurina Rothenberger tells the stories behind more than a decade’s-worth of photographs from across Africa


AFRICA — I grew up in Zuénoula, a rural town in the center of Côte d’Ivoire. Since then my memories of this stage in my life have been rounded out by experiences in very different parts of Africa. And yet many of my first adventures remain special and vivid in my mind to this day. I am still reluctant to ride in a four-wheel drive – owing to a heavy dose of nostalgia for the Renault 12 of my childhood: a vehicle bolted together on Ivorian soil with that special extra of an added base plate under the chassis for “challenging” roads.

One day in 1985 we were on our way back home from a visit to the town of Tabou. It was the rainy season and the track had turned into a soft muddy field. We got stuck, the engine of the R12 went dead and my parents exchanged a glance. After we’d spent hours shoving tree branches under the slippery tires, a relaxed, elegant man in a very shiny car drove up and stopped. He made a joke about the poto-poto (a local term for mud) before calling in help on his walkie-talkie. He then got out of the car, skillfully sidestepping the mud to keep his leather loafers clean, and swept my rain-soaked sisters and me into the soft backseat of his vanilla-scented car. The man, who owned a rubber plantation nearby, invited us to stay in his guest apartment on the compound while he had the car fixed. It was the classiest place we had ever been to. We spent the afternoon splashing around in a big blue chlorinated pool, thrilled at this rare opportunity. The next morning we climbed into our now spotless, vacuumed car, scented with a Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror. The cleanliness didn’t last long, though. A few days later, a neighbor delivered her baby on the backseat of the vehicle while being rushed to the clinic. So she named the boy Renault.

This project is a tribute to ordinary life. No spectacular or sensational incidents, just selected daily observations from countries in Africa I have worked or stayed in over the past ten years. These pictures are a modest personal selection of glimpses of Africa that cannot possibly reflect the huge diversity of such a vast continent, comprising 55 independent countries and a correspondingly wide range of peoples, lifestyles and cultures.

Conflicting facts, opportunities, intentions and events often closely co-exist here, stitched together to form a multilayered backdrop to daily life in Africa. Against such a diverse backdrop, the job of keeping the story simple can easily lead to misconceptions. Trying to single out a statement from a place of such contrasting truths is comparable to tackling the traffic in a city like Accra in Ghana or Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. As the situation evolves around you, you’re constantly forced to reconsider your judgment and focus – or else you get stuck and left behind. This is one of the edifying and refreshing challenges I love about working in Africa: it is a strong and constant reminder that a particular image is always an intentional choice of one perspective from among many. The questions this continent raises and casually places in my path make me stop and think about what I actually understand.

I hope Africans living in and outside the continent will recognise fragments of their own past or present reality and tie-ins to their own admiration for the richness that life on this continent has to offer. There is a precious quality we can learn from a majority of Africans: there is always a reason to greet people properly, exchange a few words and thoughts, regardless of how we’re dressed, where we are coming from or headed to. Ultimately, it is a sense of comfort that reawakens the moment I step onto African soil. It is the conviction and peace at heart that things will work out one way or another, either by surprise or as promised.


Sundays are a big sporting day in Lomé, the capital of Togo. In the morning, everybody – young and old – head to the beach and spend the day doing gym exercises, drinking coconuts and jumping in the water for a swim. There is a huge culture of keeping fit and this photo shows the pride people take in their bodies. Typically the poorer the place, the more pride people will take in their physical appearance.


Near African capitals there will be a beach that is cleaner than the others, where everyone will go to swim. When I was growing up, the beach at Grand Bassam used to be populated mainly by old white men with beautiful young Ivorian women. The only young black guys were the ones working at the bars. When I returned in 2008, it was so good to see that things had changed and young couples were making out at the beach. I made a whole series of young couples there.

People save up for New Year’s Eve. Tailors will work twenty-four hours a day leading up to it, because everybody spends all their money on custom-made clothes. On New Year’s Day, everyone goes to the beach with picnics and shows off their new outfits. Photographers come around snapping photographs and return an hour later to sell their portraits back to the subjects.

This guy is a Vodoun king from Aneho in Togo. Aneho is one of the West African towns known for being ‘the cradle of Vodoun.’ Vodou is a traditional African belief which now has about 80 million followers, from Brazil to Cuba, New Orleans and Haiti.

Aneho continues to celebrate the tradition of worship in all its royalty, pomp and pageantry. This king is dressed in luxurious white fabric, the colour of Voodoo. He charges members of the community for his healing services, and is holding about five different cell phones to stay in reach. I love the fact that people have no problem sampling different values – you can be globally connected through technology, yet have your feet rooted in African heritage. I assume that’s why so much good music comes from Africa; people know how to sample and they don’t discriminate.


There is a misconception that homeless people are not cared for in their communites, but I don’t think that’s true. These people belong to the city and have their own place in society just like everyone else. This man is known by everyone in town, and they make sure that he doesn’t go hungry. He asked me if I would take his photograph.

These two girls started dressing up for the picture. They love showing off, and their poses are full of pride and attitude. In Europe we see the body as a vessel for the mind, but in Africa, they think bodies have equal value. Most people feel confident and comfortable in themselves, and they rarely shy away when I ask to take their photo.


In Ghana, this guard in a clean-cut uniform is patrolling the beach and keeping an eye on the houses. The houses are run down and don’t hold a lot of value but he still patrols the area. It’s another hot day, so he scrunches a tissue in his hand to mop his brow sweat.


While young people in Africa gesture and pose in photos, older people are normally deadly serious. They take it very seriously and position themselves formally in front of the camera. It says a lot about their relationship with photography, from a time when they were forced to have their pictures taken for passports and documents – photography was a colonial instrument. They see it as impolite to smile or show their teeth.


The Abidjan hotel in the Ivory Coast used to be 5-stars when I was growing up, but now this has changed and it is open to the public. These boys were teaching the girls to swim in the pool, but the girls were terrible and weren’t motivated to learn because for them it was more of a date. In Africa, you can’t tell people what to do – if I ask them to pose for a picture they will never do exactly what I say. They always do their own thing and it looks amazing.



A weekend at the annual Kalderash celebration in Eastern Romania, with photographs by Emily Stein


MOLDAVIA, EASTERN ROMANIA — We are in a field in Romania. Clouds of grill smoke float over an encampment of fat cars, beach umbrellas and foldable gazebos. Whole suckling pigs jostle for space on overloaded tables between piles of bread and bottles of whisky so enormous they need to be cradled in tiltable stands. There is gold: on belts and faces; around wrists, fingers and toes; inside mouths. Here, it seems, wealth exists to be driven, worn or eaten.

The people who have gathered here are the Kalderash, a subgroup of the Roma people. They have come to visit the relic of Saint Gregory in the nearby Orthodox Bistrita monastery and celebrate with a huge party.

The Kalderash used to be metalworkers and coppersmiths, but their traditional livelihood has disappeared and forced the community to find alternative ways of supporting themselves. Despite these changes, they are considered one of the least socially-assimilated Roma groups, which is another way of saying that, because they have maintained their traditional way of doing things, they are treated as outsiders in their native countries.


In Europe, Roma communities are still a source of fantasy and fear for the non-Roma among whom they live. Roma people, genetically and linguistically of Indian descent, have historically been suspected by non-Roma of having magical powers. How else, we might ask ourselves, could a community survive without citizenship, land or fixed property, unless by some kind of supernatural social bond?

But watching the ebb and flow of people between family tables at this great yearly celebration gives us a visual account of an altogether unmagical process of community-making. Families stretch out roots into the wider community as sugar-crazed children crisscross between tables, adults come and go doing business and gossiping, teenagers make eyes at each other and babies are passed around and admired. It seems one could navigate to any extremity of this social network – from brother to mother to cousin to sister to aunt – without ever needing to leave the firm ground of kinship.

Only a tiny proportion of Roma communities still live permanently on the road, but the negative stereotypes remain. The mobility of a travelling community suggests an unsettled, inconstant, wayward lifestyle, in contrast to the positive undertones of a propertied existence: settled, permanent, established. But compare the solidity of the social bond here with the precarious and impoverished idea of community in a modern, urbanised society. Could it be that by defending their way of life, the Roma have remained firmly socially rooted, while it is in fact the modern urban workforce who have become Europe’s shifty, mobile, digital vagabonds?

This is the heart of the Roma cliché, the reason why they have so often been romanticised and despised at the same time: they seem to have held on to something magic – something terribly important – that the rest of us have lost, and long for.

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Great Uncle John

Photographer Eloise Parry shares the story of her great uncle, a joiner, gentleman and nonconformist by nature


MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM — My Great Uncle John contracted meningitis when he was a toddler leaving him completely deaf. When he left school, his Mother, Tootsie (my great grandmother), approached every local business in attempt to find him a job. Tootsie’s stoicism and charm secured him an apprenticeship as a joiner for company that made coffins.

John has been a joiner all of his life. He has two children: Tanya and Brady, along with three grandchildren: Kasey, a keen drag racer who tragically died in a car accident in 2011, doing what he loved the most. He also has two other grandchildren, Katie and Scott. He had one marriage and consequently one divorce, but more significantly- a relationship with a wonderful woman named Barbara, which has lasted over 25 years. They never married or lived together, Barbara was always fiercely independent, but they have spent the majority of their lives together, up until last week, when Barbara passed away.

John often comments on my photographing of him with remarks like, “you fucking dickhead, why do you want more photographs of me, you have thousands.’’ But every time I photograph John he reveals something new about himself. I think it’s because he has a chance to exercise his inherent exhibitionism and humour. He’s an exceptional character; he has never yielded to the pressures of becoming what would generally be considered as socially conventional, but I don’t think it’s an intentional rebellion, he just doesn’t know how to be anything else but himself.

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High on the sky’s line

Jeffrey Stockbridge shares stories from the road on a 10,000 mile motorcycle tour of the United States, taken in honour of an amazing dad

UNITED STATES — In the summer of 2014 I rode my motorcycle ten thousand miles across the United States and back. I took country roads wherever I could and slept out under the stars. The year before, my dad’s plans of doing the same were cut short. He died of lymphoma on November 11, 2013.

When he first met my mom, my dad loved riding his motorcycle. But after they were married and the kids came along, he was forced to sell it. He finally got himself another bike when I left for college. After I graduated, I got myself one too.

On our first trip together we rode through West Virginia to the Pennsylvania Wilds and up the east coast to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For the first time in my life, my dad and I became real friends.


By the campfire at night he confessed all of the things a father might conceal from his son. The truth was that he never wanted to have children. A few years into their marriage, my mother approached him about starting a family and when he protested, she told him that she must have married the wrong man. My dad agreed to have kids to save his marriage. But it wasn’t long after my two sisters and I were born that he realised the mistake he had made; the woman he married was no longer his wife, she was now a mother.

Stories like this poured out of my dad, stories which ran through my head as I rode my motorcycle across the US. My dad had regrets when he died. He complained that he had spent his whole damn life in Woodbine, Maryland. He was upset that he hadn’t travelled much. And although he was trying to make up for it in the final two years of his life, two years wasn’t long enough.


A year after my dad died, I took off on my bike. I left with no expectations other than to ride all day, eat when I was hungry, and roll out my sleeping bag when I was tired. I wandered with purpose. I rode the Blue Ridge Parkway to Grandfather Mountain, Santa Fe to Colorado, Durango to Uray. I rode through Yellowstone and Yosemite, down the coast of California and into the Deep South. All the while I wondered which roads my dad would have taken, where he would have slept and what he would have been doing. At night I smoked a pipe and looked at the stars.

Along the way I met many Americans, young and old, who wanted to do what I was doing. They talked about their dreams of hitting the open road, escaping their realities and welcoming the unfamiliar. For my own part, however, I wasn’t escaping reality – I was immersing myself in it. I was doing what I hadn’t allowed myself to do for an entire year. I was grieving for my father. This goes out to you, Dad. In the words of Arlo Guthrie: “I don’t want a pickle, I just want to ride my motorsickle.”




Teenage smokers, skate park north of Tulsa, Oklahoma
When I was a kid, skateparks were few and far between. My mom would drive me hours to a park where skateboarding was sanctioned and the cops couldn’t give me shit for it. Today skateparks exist in all corners of America and are the chosen hangout for local outcasts and skaters alike. They’re a place free of parents where kids are allowed to take risks and learn some independence. I met Samuel, Jonathon and Tia smoking cigarettes at a park just north of Tulsa.


Tomato-growing patriot, skate park, Oregon


Restaurant owner, Blue Ridge Parkway


Kayla, Justin and Zoe searching for crystals, Mt. Ida, North Carolina
I met a woman on the side of the road who was selling a huge selection of crystals. I had just passed a sign saying “Welcome to Crystal Springs,” so I figured I better take a look. She showed me crystals of all shapes and sizes and told me about their healing energy. Her name was Julie and she had moved to Crystal Springs to be close to the rocks.

Julie told me that I should check out a natural spring some miles away down a dirt road. I rode for 45 minutes, dodging craters and tree branches, until I reached the spring, which was a spout coming out of a makeshift lean-to structure. While there, I met this young couple and their daughter searching for crystals and takings dips in the water.


Funeral, Little Rock, Arkansas
I met this family outside a church where a funeral was taking place. I was riding by when I saw the dad standing in a field next to the church, holding the hand of his youngest daughter. I made a U-turn and rode right up to him and said hello. It turned out he was a trucker, so we discussed popular routes and some of our favourite roads. His wife and daughter came out as we were chatting and before I knew it I was taking portraits of a grieving family.


Homeless Vietnam veteran, Little Rock, Arkansas


Ricky Shepard hitchhiking home, New Mexico
I met Ricky along Route 66 somewhere south of Santa Fe. Ricky was hitchhiking home to Missouri in the hot desert sun, after trying unsuccessfully to get treatment at a veterans’ hospital in California.


Before the storm, middle of nowhere, Texas


Chase, scrambling up and blending into the rocks, Northern California Coast
I met this badass dude on the coast of Oregon. He pulled up next to me at a red light, made a remark about my skateboard and asked where I was from. I yelled, “Philadelphia,” and he yelled back, “Pittsburgh”. We lived in the same state and yet here we were, 3,000 miles away from home, on the same cross-country road trip. Chase didn’t have a kickstand because it had fallen off somewhere along the way, so I let him lean his bike on mine.


Young rider, Texas


After a swim, Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Utah


Northern California coast


The Lone Wolf (aka The Murderer), Highway 1, California
Chase and I were riding down Route 1 on the coast of California when we spotted a motorcycle shop. The mechanic inside let us change our oil in the alleyway and hooked us up with everything we needed. We’d just about finished up when this dude rolled up on this crazy-looking bike that was tricked out to survive the zombie apocalypse. It was outfitted with hard cases, ammo boxes, a GPS, fire extinguisher, extra gas, rope, multiple knives and a flare gun. The rider was from Nevada, so no wonder. We rode together for a little while until the Wolf convinced Chase to set up camp with him at a remote cliffside spot he knew, while I rode on to San Francisco.

I met up with Chase a few days later in Yosemite, and he told me what had happened after I left them. They were sitting by the campfire at night drinking brandy when the Lone Wolf started showing Chase some Taekwondo moves. It was at this moment that the Wolf told Chase he had spent a decade in the slammer for killing two guys in a bar fight. It was self-defense, he claimed. “Good night,” said the Wolf to Chase, as the sun went down. “Would you like me to bring some brandy into your tent?”


Del Curfman, Art student, Santa Fe skatepark, New Mexico


Hugh, Mitchell, Oregon
In southeastern Oregon I pulled into a gas station in a tiny town called Mitchell. This big burley guy greeted me at the pump and all I could think about was how I had to take a photo of him exactly as he was in that moment. I jumped off my bike and asked him not to move as I pulled out my Hasselblad to get the shot. His name was Hugh and he was the owner of the gas station. Hugh also had a pet bear that he used to keep in the cage pictured behind him, but he recently moved the bear back to his ranch where there’s more land to run around. After I was finished pumping my gas, I bought a six pack of Busch and sat in the shade with Hugh, sharing stories.


Riding through the mountain, Yosemite


Looking back, leaving Yosemite


Andy Teal, Flagstaff, Arizona


Curtis Motherfucking Jackson and his new pup from Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona
Just south of the Grand Canyon I met these two righteous dudes on Harleys, filling up their tanks. Andy was cleaning his glasses and Curtis was riding with his girlfriend on the back, a puppy wrapped up in her serape. They got the pup in Mexico from a man who had so many he was giving them away. It’s a long ride back to Portland but they were doing it, puppy in tow.