Portraits taken of villagers from Mazola Kilifi, Nikanyevi and Mahandakini in the Tanga region of Tanzania. The experience resulted in a photography series that captures the eagerness, generosity, inclusiveness and kindness that the villagers shared with Ingrid Bugge.
This is a project made in collaboration with Bugges spouse Karsten Solaas, CEO of Out-Growers Ltd Tanzania. Their aim is to make the spirit of Out-Growers Ltd visual through an artistic and direct aproach to the heart of the company, the cashew farmers.
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The pictures support the company stories and show the spirit of Out-Growers :
Label designs for the cashew nuts in consumers market
We chose two men and two women from amongst the portrtaits of the villagers to represent the 4 flavours. After aquiring an illustrator, we drew up different sketches and made our style choices: We aim for a blend between the western Art nouveau style and the Tanzanian Tinga Tinga art style.
The colour depth should be juicy and represent the flavours used.
An essential part of the design is flexibility as we didn’t know which tin was being used.
The elements of the cashew tree was to be implemented: the nut, the apple and the flowers.
These following two examples show the result of the work:
Below you see examples of label designs for 2 out of 4 different flavours: Sea Salt and Apple vinegar
For the art gallery Bugge has made the portrait series Tanga Gold, Gold because that is what the farmers consider the cashews they grow:
The vintage prints are made as orotones.
“The starting point of this portrait series was to meet human beings on their own terms. I thought a lot about how to do this, in terms of me being from a very different world than the world of the people I meet. ” – Ingrid Bugge, 2020
The initial idea was formed by my spouse Karsten Solaas CEO of Out-Growers LTD and I. The aim was to merge our worlds bussisnes and art. We wanted to make a storytelling that was engaging, strong and usable for many platforms.
Their starting point, was to meet the farmers, as human beings on their own terms. As they evolved the ideas and how to do this, they realized that establishing common ground between the farmers and Ingrid Bugge was crucial. The aim was that the pictures taken should contain authenticity and intimacy. They had three things in mind while preparing for and executing the photo shoot:
1) To meet people on their home court
2) To listen to their dreams in life
3) To let them chose what to show when pictures taken
An important inspiration came from Richard Avedon. With his “In the American West” project, he managed photograph more than 750 people: Those were untraditional portraits of all different kinds of ordinary people from the American West. What set Richard Avedon’s portraits apart was exactly that he met the everyday working-class persons in their own environments as he travelled through state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughterhouses and prisons to find subjects for the portraits. He found a story within his subject.
We visited three of the Out-Growers’ partner villages in Tanzanias Tanga region:
The local staff in Out-Growers Ltd, got involved from the beginning. The local project manager would be visiting the villages to brief them about the project, prior to our arrival in Tanga Tanzania. As I did´nt know the infrastructure and don’t speak Swahili, two staff members from Out-Growers assisted in translating, driving, setting up etc.
To reach out to the local village, and at the same time also be able to work with photos, I needed to find a solution that would be both non-obtrusive to the trip but also something that we could bring with us. We ended up fashioning a bring-along photo studio out of white tablecloth from a local salvage man, sown together.
We draped the tablecloth over a self-made take-apart stand for a quick and handy photo-studio. The people at the Out-Growers factory in Tanga made this mobile backdrop out of raw wooden boards.
The first village we visited was Mazola Kilifi, it is located in the bush in Tanga Region. About one hour drive from the main road.
When we arrived we could immediately see that the village had been looking forward to our visit and for them being photographed.
They brought us a beautiful braided basket filled with delicious fruits and their best cashews, as gifts.
Everyone was looking their most presentable, having brought their tools, fruits around their necks and their nicest clothes, to greet this meeting.
The photo shoot turned out to be a very lively and joyful experience
The third village of Mahandakini, we went to is located much closer to the coast, right up against the border to Kenya.
When we arrived in the village, a general feeling of siesta was persistent here. Little by little people started to come out and join the photo shoot under the big shady trees.
The village Nikanyevi, is situated by the roadside. At arrival they showed a more indifferent attitude. Maybe because the were way more used to people visiting.
It took some time before we could gather people and really get the photo shoot going.
However, once we started everybody laughed and we had fun. Once again we experienced the warmth that are within the farmers.
Some of their great wishes :
It was clear for us that the wishes the farmers had for their lives were mainly to be able to support their families. The men wanted to become a good cashew farmer or a bus drivers, the women to become ex nurses, doctors or teachers.
It was confirmed how crucial Out-Growers educational support is for them and that they have a great motivation to work, get educated, improve their income and possibilities in life.