10 Photos From Liberia is a new series to Fufu & Soup Magazine, highlighting the beauty of Liberia and its people through the lens of some of the most talented photographers we’ve come across. In this feature, we’re showcasing the eye-catching work and story of photographer Thomas Lhomme.
How did you get started with photography?
Pretty much by accident. I was 16-years-old and was working in IT and a compact camera for sale for a very low price showed up in the store in front of where I was working. It was a Nikon Coolpix or something close to that. After a few months practicing with this camera, I became intrigued by the manual mode. I was wondering what all the different parameters were and found a website that explained everything.
After some time I bought my first DSLR: a Nikon D40x with which I started to discover more and more the possibilities of photography. The few photographers I knew that I looked up to were Henri Cartier-Bresson and Raymond Depardon. I was living in the center of Bordeaux, a pretty big city in France. This is where my passion for street photography started; it was music in my ears, walking for hours taking pictures of the everyday life of the people that called Bordeaux home.
What brought you to Liberia and what do you enjoy most about the country?
I returned to France after my first volunteer experience in Thailand where I spent almost a full year. After a few days in France, I realized I didn’t want to return to working in IT. While abroad I had a deep human experience meeting people from different cultures, with experiences of life that are very different than what I was used to at home. That’s when I found a volunteer opportunity with the More Than Me non-governmental organization, which runs a completely free school for girls from West Point, the biggest slum in Liberia.
The thing with the country is if you search for “Liberia” on Google, the first thing that comes up is about war or Ebola – nothing very attractive for someone who doesn’t know much about the country. Once in Liberia, I met an enthusiast population. People may think, ‘you work in West Point, a slum in Liberia, it’s dangerous!’ Not true! To be honest, I never faced problems there, just sharing smiles, happiness and sometimes a plate of rice and cassava!
Do you have a favorite place in Liberia where you like to take photos?
I love hanging out in West Point. Even after all those months of exploring this place, I am still surprised by the incredible dynamism I see here. West Point is full of color and contrast, wide community squares and narrow paths, with a lot of places that you are not expecting to experience along your way. There is this thing that makes your head turn in every direction because something is always happening. This is a nice place to explore if you are looking for beautiful scenes of life.
What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken while in Liberia and why is it your favorite?
I like this picture [below] because it shows the positivity of the students. It was my first day in West Point, following students back to their homes.
What camera do you use and what’s your favorite camera?
I do not really have a favorite camera. Right now, I am using a Canon 5D Mark 2. This is still a good one despite the fact it starts to get old and it’s not the best thing you can have in low light conditions. I am thinking of upgrading to a 5D mark 3 or going to Sony.
Photos credit: Thomas Lhomme for More Than Me