29 November 2011
Last updated at 15:57
Photographers from across Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan met for the country’s first ever photographic flash mob at the weekend, with a rendez-vous co-ordinated through social media.
The event gives impetus to a growing band of young Ivorian photographers, like Yelena Dahouet-Boigny (pictured), making use of the internet, digital cameras and photo-sharing sites to build a following around the world.
Ivory Coast has a long photographic tradition but some aspiring artists complain that these days it is not easy to study photography in the West African country.
“Now people are interested in photography – because of Facebook firstly and the photography is improving and people like the new photography, the new techniques,” says young Ivorian photographer Audrey Carlalie Okou.
“Of course I dream of being a photographer – it will be difficult in Ivory Coast I know. But I like photography and I will do my best to be a photographer,” she adds. The path to becoming a professional is certainly no easier here than elsewhere.
As well as photographers, models, film-makers, painters and other artists turned up to take part. “We’re trying to bring that unique experience and show creativity out of the continent and show that there’s much more happening in Africa than people think,” says Ishy Coulibaly, one of the organisers.
“I lived in Oregon, USA, for four years there and getting postcards in your mailbox talking about malnutrition and people dying in Africa is not really the right thing to see. As soon as I came to Ivory Coast, I made it a mission for me to show positivity out of the continent - these people here are electric,” says Mr Coulibaly.
One of the forerunners of this new breed of young Ivorian photographers has been Paul Sika with his trademark colour-saturated photos.
“It’s quite amazing to see how the Ivorian people are strong after what they want through and just to be able to celebrate life and showing that we’re a strong people,” says Mr Coulibaly. Between January and May, Abidjan was the scene of heavy fighting in a post-election dispute.
“You wouldn’t believe it that there was a war that went down a couple of months ago. Now it’s a brand new world and people are just aspiring and hoping for a better future,” he adds.
The event was organised by the Ivorian APPA (Association of Amateur and Professional Photographers) along with Racines and AMN Africain Corp Media Network. Text and interviews: John James, BBC. Photos: John James, Paul Sika, Yelena Dahouet-Boigny (Atomique Supertronique Photography), Yvan Akre, Audrey Carlalie Okou, Samuel Ouedraogo, Luca Sage.
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