Behind the lens: Senegal, with both hands waving

[words and photograph © Mark Eveleigh]

I was nearing the end of a hectic three-week assignment, driving a 34-year-old VW Beetle from England to The Gambia, when I shot this photograph in Saint-Louis, Senegal. There were about 50 vehicles in the convoy that had just crossed from the dunes and borderland minefields of Mauritania, and it’s safe to say that some of us were feeling the tension of 11-hour driving days.

On the first afternoon in Saint-Louis town, one of the drivers was robbed. There was no violence but he lost passport, credit cards and camera. Because of this single incident word went around the camp that Saint-Louis was “bandit-country” and the majority of the teams decided not to leave the camp. Scores of people must have returned home with bad reports and recommendations to fellow travellers not to set foot in Saint-Louis.

I too was unsure whether to risk photographic equipment that was vital for my assignment (and for a series of future ones in The Gambia). In the end I decided that it was pointless to carry all this equipment if I wasn’t prepared to risk using it.

The end result: a series of portraits of extremely happy and hospitable people in the slum district around Saint-Louis fishing beach… and fond memories of what I believe might be the most attractive town anywhere between Marrakech and Bulawayo.

The moral: See for yourself.

For more of the stories behind the images, written by the photographers, take a look here.

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