October 7, 2011

Joe Penney: What is true?

Joe Penney is a photographer from New York. In spring 2011 he covered the elections for Reuters and spent three months in Nigeria. Besides trying to give a reflection of what happened during election time, he worked on personal projects as well. Some of this work is featured at the LagosPhoto festival.

What is your series about?
'It is about the difference of what I see and what Nigerians see. It is about what people want to show and what they are hiding. And how this can be different from person to person and from culture to culture. It is also about myself, traveling in a country that is at times shockingly poor and very difficult to understand.
I made portraits of woman dressing up and going to church. They live in Lagos and live a harsh life. They do their utmost best of showing themselves in pictures in a nice way. Therefore they pay people to photoshop the images and for instance remove the background or the house where they live and replace it by images they like: a chique hotel or a blurred background.
I as a western photographer would never do that, I want to show their reality. But what if they prefer a photoshopped reality. Does that make it less real? I want to show what I perceive to be their reality.'

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