3 DAYS SHOOTING IN DAKAR

3 DAYS SHOOTING IN DAKAR

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Our 3rd collection is dedicated to Dakar. The city is so inspiring just by the way it breathes  that I moved there for a little while. For the last 5 weeks, I have been inspired, meeting up with textile suppliers, coordinating with tailors and assuring the production of garments.  

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We gathered people to what seems one of my biggest project so far.  Malcolm Cuthbert, hairdresser flew from NYC,  Kike Tobge , the model flew from Benin, and I, Kassim flew from Paris.  On site, we worked with Adja Cisse, the project coordinator, and Simel the model.

Over 3 days, we gathered our skills, to collaborate and bring into life the visual project of  SS19.

DAY 1 - LOCATION HUNTING

Malcolm arrived the day before from NYC. And today, we are finally meeting after almost 2 years of not seeing each other. Rapidly, we went to visit the locations I scouted. There are countless beautiful spots in the city, and we divided them in 2 parts. First, the urban areas, then the rural ones.

08:00AM - Malcom said, when he thinks of Dakar, the first image that pops up in my mind, are these Yellow taxis. And today, we hop on one. Comfortably seated, we direct the taxi driver to the old city, Medina.: an urban area, the most ancient yet most populous area. We drive through the marina, while I’m enjoying the views, totally amazed by the lines of it. Coconut trees, sand, the reflections of the sun on the waves and all of those impressions made more vivid by the light wind. It is Malcolm’s first time in Africa, and he is falling in love with the city.

08:15 AM –. We reach the neighborhood of the Medina. Populous and energetic. We could observe all age ranges, from teenagers to adults, some eating while standing with their bread filled with piston « pate of sardines », some drinking their coffee  or some running to catch their “cars rapides” a  local public transportation service that is everything but fast (rapide) . I’m captivated by the coming and goings of the passers-by. I am also amazed by the colors of the clothing they are all wearing.  The colors are all very bright : Red, Orange, Blue, Green…. They don’t hold back. To me this is a statement :

We see life VIVIDLY .

We keep on visiting all the pre-seleted locations in the neighbourhood. All spots are unique and authentic. I pull out my small notebooks from my backpack and write down all comments for each spots as we go. Time is passing by as I am enjoying our work meanwhile being totally immersed in the culture.

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10:30 AM – We get into another taxi, and head this time to the island « Ile de la madeleine ». We are driving along the coastline. Lined with palm trees, coconuts, sand and rocks. Dakar is truly stunning, the natural landscapes leave us in awe. I keep on taking notes. Potential new locations emerge while others are being scratched off.

11:00 AM - We arrive at the port, and soon we board on a small boat to the island. The wind is moderate, yet we can feel the waves. Local fishermen try to make a bit of money by charging people back and forth. Their embarkations tend to be rustic.

11:20 AM - 15 mins later we see a strip of land, very rocky with various shades of brown. We have reached  « Île de la madeleine »

11:30 AM - Our guide welcomes us and we embarke on the 20 mins tour of the island.  He tell us stories about the island, how it is the only island uninhabitable in Senegal. Legend has it that a spirit is protecting the land. Moreover, he tells us about the living  birds species and other animals endemic and migrants to the location- such as the great cormorants who spend his winter here.  As beautiful as it is, it does not  quite feel a right location for the collection. Nice excursion anyways !

 12:30 PM - We are starving. I have only drunk a coffee this am. We head back to the city to a local restaurant called « Chez Fatou ». A noteworthy place for any first timer in Dakar, who wants to eat local food and  all time favorite : Tchiboudeen « Fish & Rice » The meal is so delicious that it leaves all leaking liking our fingers.

1:00 PM – Stomach full - A driver comes to pick us up and drive us to lake Retba. 45 mins away from downtown Dakar.

2:00 PM – We can only see a flat landscape with what seems to be water at the center. Also, unidentified shapes surrounds the area.  As we get closer the water gets pinker and the unidentified shapes seem to be clearer. It is the salt taken from the lake, forming small hills shaped.  We arrive at the location.

2:10 PM - A very peaceful area. We hire a guide to sheperd us through the area. The Lake is truly pink. We are lucky cause the color can change depending on mother nature. Indeed, according to the guide it takes hot temperatures and strong winds to make the water pink as it reveals the presence of  the Dunaliella Salina algae.

He tells us that men goes to dig for salt, and women unload the canoes. As the water is highly salted, the workers moisturize themselves with shea butter to protect their skin from burning. Also, anyone is welcome to help in exchange of money. What captivates us the most, is the seamless collaboration of men and women to work efficiently and the invitation of all to come make money. 

3:00 PM -  The location is quite splendid.  We visit the dunes, the beaches and navigate through the lake on a canoe being driven by the tour guide. He is very passionate about sharing the stories about the lake and his culture altogether.

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4:00 PM – It is time to head back to the city before the traffic starts. They say Dakar traffic is among the most intense in the world.

5:00 PM - Back to the city, we are doing the fitting for Simel the male model on the roof of the residence. Malcolm is multi-tasking. He dresses the model, takes notes, while I’m taking pictures of the model. It is Simel first modeling job, and he is not feeling totally comfortable, being dressed, undressed and having all the attention on him.

6:30 PM – The fitting for Simel is done. Perfectly seated by on the rooftop of our residence, we are finally relaxing with some much needed ginger drinks while savoring this wonderful sunset.

9:00 PM – Adja just came in.  I’m introducing her to Malcolm. We rapidly connect and start to crack jokes. She suggests we order dinner. Food is a big thing in Dakar. I am always excited to share my favourite meals wih my friends or work colleagues. This time, we decide to have seadfood on the table.  Oyster - grilled calamari - sautéed gambas and drank bissap. All while discussing about the city, its culture and this beautiful day.

11:00 PM – Kike,  landed in Dakar 2 hours ago. She just walked in, very tired by the journey.  But we still need do the fittings for her. We let her eat some food, while setting up the racks of clothing

11:20 PM -  The living room becomes a backstage room. Clothes everywhere We are doing the fittings - Clothes, shoes, earings… - Ibrahim, the tailor is here. Ibrahim is trimming the cloths as needed to adjust the lengths and silhouettes. 

02:00 AM - We are finally done. Exhausted and ready to go sleep.  

END OF A DAY

DAY 2 -  SHOOTING DAY

07:00 AM - Wake up call.  I’m the first to be up. Setting things up, from breakfast, to organizing our itinerary…and welcoming Simel, the male Model.

08:00 AM -  I’m supervising the workflow, while the 2 models are having  make up and hair done.

12:00 PM - We are finally loading the car with the collection, the cosmetics, the camera and all the materials needed. We all rush into the car. I  get  in as Adja is patiently waiting to start the vehicle.  Indeed, we are 2 hours behind  schedule but ready for an intense yet exciting day of shooting.

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12:30 PM - We reach the first location by the beach. It is sunny and warm. Kike is changing clothes and I’m helping her putting on her earrings. Kike immediately get into the desired mode. I have always been talented by how talented models just switch it on.

12:45 PM - We continue to the next spot. 5 mins walk, and we start shooting again.

1:00 PM  - Kike and Simel already want a snack. Kike stops  a street vendor to get some peanuts. While Simel is posing, she is taking a short break.

1:45 PM - We are driving to Pink Lake. On our way, we have a quick stop at the gas station to refuel the car and grab lunch at the grocery store. Who said  models don’t eat ? Kike and Simel are devouring their snacks and sandwiches.

3:00 PM - We are arrive at our destination. We unload the car and start shooting at this beautiful   place. Getting the shots done and moving on to next outfits. The lighting is good, the shadows are soft and the energy is awesome. The shades and the spirit of the collection are working well with that back drop.  

4:40 PM - We need to pause and enjoy some well-deserved drinks and snacks.

5:40 PM - We are going to the final location of the day. On the other side of the lake, with a lot of salt in sight. The views there is mind-blowing and we  manage to catch beautiful shots at the sunset.

6:00 PM - The shooting is going smoothly, with the wind making the clothing float around the skins. Fluidity is what we wanted to show, and mother nature is on our side.

6:45 PM - We are done for the day. Merchants are approaching us to sell us some bracelets. We kindly praise them for the quality of their works but are not ready to buy.

7:00 PM - We are now riding back to downtown Dakar, with the beautiful scenery  of the sunset.

ANOTHER INTENSE DAY HAS GONE BY !

DAY 3 - LAST DAY OF SHOOTING

08:00 AM - Crunch time - It will be a strong day at work. Kike and Simel are already in room getting their hair and make up done while having breakfast

9:00 AM - We are leaving the house and this time heading to the Medina, the old city. Kike has never been to that part of town, and enjoying the site.

9:30 AM - All set, we are now on site shooting. “ Give me movement, give me fluidity” I keep telling her. I love that part of town there are wonderful geometric patterns on the walls.

10:00 AM – I have an idea. I approach a street vendor and ask him if Kike could pose next to him. He kindly accepts and Kike performs her job in a perfect way.

11:30 PM – Times flies by and we are now rushing to get the last pictures done. We have to wrap up our shoot because Kike has a flight at 3:00PM. We drive back to the apartment and then drop her off.

12:15 PM – Time to say goodbye to Kike. It was so great to have her around and she really squeeze into her very busy schedule. As itthank her and wave goodbye, she turns around and gives me the cutest smile.

1:00 PM  -  Our team is very hungry.  We share a delicious local fish and rice. Meal is important and sharing it is even more exciting.

2:00 PM - We take a little rest. Meanwhile, I keep on checking the pictures that we took over the 2 days. With a smile on my face while contemplating them. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time amount of time.

3:00 PM - We now start shooting the Lookbook. Simel is being shy, but he has invited a photographer friend of his to join us. Feeling more comfortable now, he gives us the energy we were expecting. 

6:00 PM - We are wrapping  up this 3 days of work with a collective applause. 

END OF THE DAY

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