It is not everyday we receive images shot in the Sahara. But today we did. The man behind the camera is Spanish photographer Ramón Vaamonde, who recently travelled to the Sahawari refugee camps to document the everyday lives of the people who live there.
How did you come up with this idea, Ramón?
“Over the years, I’ve met several photographers who have been in the camps and told me about the difficult situation there. I’ve always known that I want to go there and do … something. At first, I didn’t know what. I just knew that I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. Over time, that something came to be artificial lighting. I also realized that I didn’t want any traditional posed photography. I wanted to capture the essence of the place.”
What equipment did you bring?
“We used Profoto Compact 600 monolights, softboxes, grids and a BatPac to power the equipment. At first I thought about bringing speedlights, but eventually I realized that if we wanted to work outdoors with hard daylight, we would need something more powerful to overpower the sun. Also, due to the weather conditions in the area, we wanted equipment that we could trust. And the units delivered. They endured the dust, the sand and the extreme changes in temperature and never stopped me from shooting.”
What was the response from the people?
“Although documentary photographers and even films teams are there all the time, this was the first time a project like this was made. Hence, many of them were quite surprised to see us walking around there with all this equipment on our back, and there were always a lot of people around us when we were shooting. Naturally, some people didn’t want to participate, but the majority were very positive and appreciated what we were trying to do.”
And how do people in Europe respond to the images?
“People seem to like them a lot. They are quite surprised to see this kind of photography in a place like Sahara. My hope is, of course, that the project in a near future will be part of an exhibition and help people better understand the difficult situation these people are in.
You can more of Ramón’s images at his website.
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