Behind the Lens
showcases the world seen by three different photographers and styles.
About the style: Photojournalism is similar to the documentary genre. The only difference here is that a photographer captures live events as and when it happens and informs the world about it. Examples of this style of photography is what we see every day in newspapers, magazines, etc. Photojournalism is not about shooting unexpected events, but about capturing unexpected moments at events that are planned. It is serious journalism and a person needs to plan it right to be at the right place and at the right time.
Mo Amin, Photojournalist
The turmoil of Africa’s emergence into the 20th century has long been the focus of the critical eye of the Western World. From exploration to exploitation; from fear and famine to fame and fortune; from war-torn horror to wildlife wonder; it has all been exposed to the relentless gaze of the international press.
No one has caught its pain and passion more incisively than Mohamed Amin, photographer and frontline cameraman extraordinaire. He was the most famous photo-journalist in the world, making the news as often as he covered it. ‘Mo’ trained his unwavering lens on every aspect of African life, never shying from the tragedy, never failing to exult in the success.He was born into an Africa at the high noon of colonial decline, and by his early teens was already documenting events which were soon to dominate world news. He witnessed and recorded the alternating currents of his beloved continent and beyond, projecting those images across the world, sometimes shocking, sometimes delighting millions of television viewers and newspaper readers. Through the gaze of his camera lens, he showed the world what some were afraid to see and what most people wished they could ignore.
His coverage of the 1984 Ethiopian famine proved so compelling that it inspired a collective global conscience and became the catalyst for the greatest-ever act of giving. Unquestionably, it also saved the lives of millions of men, women and children. He served as both the inspiration and as a catalyst for Band Aid, USA for Africa and Live Aid.Since the 1996 death of African photojournalist Mohamed Amin, an inconspicuous back room in Nairobi has been locked off from the public, maintained only by two solitary sentries stationed between file cabinets in a windowless, climate controlled vault.Now, after years of frame-by-frame cataloging and the digitization of thousands of hours of raw video files, the Mohamed Amin Collection is opening its doors for exploration and exhibition. The Mohamed Amin Collection includes more than 5000 hours of raw video content and approximately 2.5 million still photographs gathered between 1963-1996. The Mohamed Amin Collection represents one of the world’s greatest unexploited historical artifacts. It includes unique, high quality documentation of the events surrounding post-colonial Africa, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This timeless work of art features culture, conflict, political upheaval, wildlife, entertainment, and an unparalleled visual chronicle of the daily life of millions of Africans.
Our mission is to translate and share this body of work with the global public as a way to stimulate dialogue about Africa and Africans. Mohamed Amin was an African. As a photojournalist, Mo never had to parachute into a news story, he was already on the ground working life long contacts with chefs and soldiers, shop owners and security guards, relationships he’d built up during decades of tenacious networking. He was already on the ground retracing routes by Land Rover and Cessna, on motorcycles and on foot, routes through villages and slums, army forts and palaces, coffee shops, corporations and newsrooms in Kenya, the UK, Canada and America starving for a scoop.Like Africa, Mo was caught up in a tide of change.
From humble roots in Dar es Salaam, Mo was swept up by the turmoil of a continent locked in revolution and shackled by poverty. Mo was prolific by any standard, yet his mission was singular in its focus – telling the story of Africa and Africans. And like Africa, Mo’s professional journey included crisis and chaos, beauty and majesty, and a deep, resonate passion for documenting and protecting the best of Africa while moving fearlessly forward into an uncertain future.Although it’s a rare and sacred thing, a singular event can change a continent… and a man. When millions die as a nation uses food as a weapon of war, the worst instincts of humankind fly in the face of logic and decency. Yet that’s what happened in Ethiopia in 1984. Mohamed Amin was there with his cameras to document the suffering. His images changed the world as the people of Africa and the world responded with one of the greatest acts of philanthropy in human history. The famine was a tipping point for Mo and he changed for the better – he became a better man and a better father. Africa changed for the better as Africans united in their humanity and the quest to overcome the suffering that had long defined nations rooted in the malaise of colonialism and conflict.
Now, by telling Mo’s story through the power of photojournalism and the beauty and complexity of great art, we plan to share the rare, historic moments that coincided with the trajectory of Mohamed Amin’s artistic and journalistic achievements.
The time is right. The continent is immersed in a tide of unprecedented economic, cultural and social development. And the recent history that drives the present – the often turbulent events of the past two generations – is well articulated in the stories and images represented by the Mohamed Amin Collection.