PENHA is a pastoral and environmental organisation dedicated to improve the perceptions and hence the aid and support to countries within the Horn of Africa; they held an event at the Adulis Eritrean Restaurant in Brixton Road, London. One of the organisers of the event, Vanessa Champion of Dragonfly Communications invited me along, and as a consequence I invited a talented photographer, Karena Perronet-Miller, who has done photographic assignments in India, to come along too.
We set off from our very different points mine from outside London, Karena’s from North London, yet as I came along the Brixton Road, Karena spotted me before I sailed by unknowingly as she had stopped by one of the shops en route, so we entered together giving me the opportunity to introduce Karena to Ness downstairs, having been greeted by the owners and Zeremariam Fre at the entrance.
Already music could be heard from below, and although we were early there were already other guests who had arrived still more promptly. Karena, despite having told me she was apprehensive about such meetings was soon very much at home, and I realised I need not have worried. The atmosphere was very welcoming all round, and having checked with Ness about photographing was assured it was just fine – it was not long before I was far from alone in taking the opportunity to capture the event for a wider audience! It proved to be difficult to avoid each of us finding other photographers featuring in our images.
It was a wonderful opportunity to listen to some lively music, some introductory speeches, explanations of some of the instruments being played and their origins. Naturally, it was also the chance to gain further experience of ‘unavailable light photography’ by having to shoot at 5000 ISO to get exposures as short as 1/15th second with some semblance of sharpness somewhere in the picture – especially challenging when trying to capture speakers whose heads seemed capable of swivelling 360 degrees and hands that moved faster than the speed of light, and musicians whose virtuosic fingers operated at similar velocity.
In some instances due to moments of humour, or subtle changes in expressions I have shown images that at first sight may seem duplicates, but often taken together provide a greater truth to what was happening. Mixed lighting sometimes enhanced the images at others proved quite challenging when I was processing them for display in the gallery, but I hope overall, I have captured the essence and ambiance of the evening which I thoroughly enjoyed as did my feet and toes as they often followed the beat with abandon.
It was a well-organised and successful event with splendid food, wonderful hospitality and incredible friendliness; I met several new people and was very grateful to be invited and I hope in this record have contributed in some small way.