Power of the everyday

How can a photo snapped on an iPhone change the way we see an entire continent?

This is an excerpt from Issue 23 of Collective Hub. Grab a copy to read the full story. 

Photojournalist Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill were in Africa covering a post-crisis story when the realisation hit.

“This place was struggling to recover from a conflict and it was an important story, it was under-reported and needed more coverage,” says Austin. “And yet, in the process of being there reporting, it was frustrating because we found ourselves contributing to the stereotypes of that part of the world. That ‘Africa’s nothing more than a place that’s driven by conflict and beleaguered by disease and poverty’, and things like that.”

Having both lived on the continent for about four years, initially as Peace Corps volunteers and later as photojournalists, Peter and Austin were familiar with the other side of the continent, the one rarely shown in mainstream media.

“We pulled out our iPhones and started taking pictures of everyday life, and found pretty quickly these photographs were doing a better job of telling the story of this part of the world in a more complete way,” says Austin, adding they’re not actively ignoring the bad news of the continent, just showing it “alongside images of people in a shopping mall, or going to work or in a classroom studying for an exam or at a fashion show. So you get a more textured and broader and deeper perspective on what the variety of life is like.”

The success of their Instagram account @everydayafrica spurred the decision to begin a not-for-profit called The Everyday Projects. When it comes to end goals, Peter says it’s all about changing people’s pre-conceived views of worlds outside their own.

“It’s an attempt to talk about perception, misperception and maybe most importantly, context,” Peter says. “So people can see when Ebola or a civil war happens or a coup d’état, they’re devastating to those communities because for 95 per cent of the people, 95 per cent of the time, life is very normal and not that different from our lives.” 


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