Hello everyone, I am excited to present the Mode Observer Spring/Summer 2021 Collection, which is inspired by the hustle and bustle of life in Freetown. Shot in two different locations across the city, the lookbook captures the calm in an midst of a very chaotic world.
The Aberdeen Fishing Wharf was the second location for the photoshoot. The shoot was scheduled to start at 9:00 am on a Saturday in March, and run for three hours. By 9:30 the team had converged at Lumley Beach roundabout, and proceeded to the very busy wharf. While the boats anchored on the shore, fishermen of offloaded their catch, and fishmongers bargained with customers eager to purchase fresh fish, we converted a small disused box into our makeshift wardrobe. Hair and makeup was done by Melissa, one of the models, and our changing room was a parked vehicle.
On arrival at the location the photographer, Dominique Fofanah, recommended that we meet the 'headman' in the area to seek his permission. As if on que, a random man who had spotted Dominique's heavy equipment walks up to us, asking what we were there to do. We explained that we had an photoshoot and will be using the wharf as our backdrop. He offered to introduce us to the headman and asked that we wait, while he went ahead to advocate on our behalf. Given that that was his area, and he seemed quite well known, we happily agreed.
After about 5 minutes of back-and-forth between the headman, our advocate and a man whom we later identified ad the Local Council Counsellor, we were ushered into their midst to plead our case. The Counsellor asked me for photos and evidence of my work, following which he gave his permission and left with the headman. The whole time these negotiations were ongoing, there were a group of young men standing a few feet away, observing the interaction. As soon as the leaders left and we started the photoshoot, they interrupted our session complaining "na we na the youth mandem na ya o, all day una cam na ya de snap and make boku money, una nor de shabe with we". Another asserted "are sure say una don cam shabe money to the headman and e nor want gie we. Dande nor fine and we want we yone". We told told them they were misinformed as no money had changed hands with their community leaders and like them, we are young people hustling to survive.
I was quite taken aback by this because last I checked I was a Sierra Leonean youth too, and found the concept of sharing money to people who would not be playing a role in our photoshoot, quite ridiculous. Also it is a public space and we had already been granted permission to shoot. Since I really wanted to use wharf, we promised to discuss with them afterwards, which seemed to calm things down. We continued with our photoshoot, and Melissa and Mymuna, my two super professional models gave me looks that gave no indication of what had ensued earlier.
I hope you love the collection, as much as I loved curating it.