Adrian Armstrong: Standing with Giants of Africa

In August 2015, Adrian went to Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda with Giants of Africa, a non-for-profit organization that supports and helps develop raw basketball talent to local, national, international and professional levels.

Known for his punchy still life and food photography, for two weeks Adrian took back the camera from the tripod and brought his style to the road, resulting in a joint exhibition with Roberto Caruso at TIFF Bell Lightbox to celebrate the release of the documentary, Giants of Africa directed by Hubert Davis.  

For more coverage on Giants of Africa, see the Sportsnet article here and in the Globe and Mail here.

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Q: How did you get involved with GoA? 

AA: A good friend of mine Roberto Caruso had photographed the trip a few time before me but couldn’t make it last August. I was more than happy to step in and volunteer!

 

Q: What did you use to shoot?

AA: At first I bought a Fuji XT-1 with a few lenses and accessories. I like the size of it but last minute decided it wasn’t enough camera. I sent it back and bought a Canon 5Dsr instead. I am very happy I changed my mind as I used every bit of the large sensor for the printed show.

 

Q: Were there any difficulties you encountered shooting kids and strangers?

AA: Everyone we encountered were very accepting of having their photos taken. Kids especially. Kids would tug on my shirt to have their picture taken and then not even ask to see it. It was actually a bit strange at the orphanages. Felt a bit like the kids were encouraged to have their photos taken – good for the orphanages I guess. Either way the kids were pretty cute!

 

Q: Did you have a personal goal, going in, on what to shoot and did it evolve? 

AA: My job was to capture the basketball camps and players but other than that I didn’t know what I would capture. As I shoot mostly still life advertising my camera stays on a tripod most of the time. It was a lot of fun to hold the camera in my hands again so I just shot anything and everything I saw. These were 13-14 hour days but it was an awesome experience to be able to shoot like that.

 

Q: Any favourite or key moments?

AA: One evening after a community outreach in Nairobi, we were on our way back to the hotel through a heavily populated area of the city. The sun was setting and there was a ton of dust and people everywhere glistening in the early evening light, sometimes referred to by photographers as the “the golden hour”. I must have shot 500 frames it was so picturesque. It felt like we were traveling through a scene from a movie.

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