Lome, Togo 2000
When I have a camera with me, I always “keep a lookout” (as we say down south) for a person, place or happening that is photo-worthy. We’d just finished eating a late lunch in Lome, Togo and had some time to look around.
I spotted this woman washing clothes in an alley near the restaurant. She had an aura of glamor despite her mundane task and shabby surroundings. Her long legs and slim arms, the curve of her back, her beautifully shaped head and the fit of her clothing attracted my eye and camera. There is a tiny glint of gold earring. Gold is important in the culture of Togo, Benin and Ghana. Maybe her gold earrings reveal her feelings of self-worth.
Most young women in Lome wear western clothing. It’s the older ones who wear the voluminous Mother Hubbard dresses. Women are powerful in Lome. Many own textile concerns, selling a Dutch made cotton known as “Visco Wax”. This popular fabric printed with African designs is worn inside out, to show that it has the genuine Visco Wax trademark. The older women who own these textile firms are called “Mama Benz” because they can afford to be chauffered about in a Mercedes Benz.
I didn’t have to do much to this shot, but I did crop it so that her eye falls on the 1/3 mark. Following the rule of thirds just makes most photos better. Notice that I say “most”. If you break the rule, you may have an outstanding photo. It’s up to you. I think using ultra wide-angle lenses can help you break rules and achieve that “wow” factor.