Little Addis, Uncut

Sometimes when I do walking tours in the inner city, I don’t have time to take proper photographs. Some parts of the city are just too busy, and I have to prioritize keeping up with the rest of the group over stopping to compose pretty pictures. I’ve written about this conundrum before in a previous post, Stolen Shots of Hillbrow.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when I toured Little Addis — Joburg’s bustling Ethiopain district — with JoburgPlaces. It was a busy Saturday and the city was packed. If I stopped to take photos I would become lost in a sea of shopping mayhem.

Joburg Mall

See what I mean?

Plus, in circumstances like that, pausing to shoot a scene often ruins the scene. Once the person I want to photograph sees me stop and raise my camera, the moment is lost.

So, I developed a new style of shooting on this Little Addis tour. I held my camera at my side, and when I saw an interesting scene I simply pointed the lens, held down the shutter, shot a series of frames, and hoped for the best. In most cases I hardly stopped walking, if at all, and my subjects had little or no idea that I was photographing them.

I’m pretty happy with some of the results. In keeping with the spontaneous method I used to shoot these photos, I am posting them without edits. No cropping, no lightening, no sharpening, etc. What you see is an uncut version of what my camera shot.

Side note: If you want to learn more about Little Addis, check out this post I wrote a couple of years ago.

surprised guy

Watching the world go by. I like how the focus wound up on the woman to the left.

nappy store

I love the colors in this shop, which seems to sell nothing but nappies (diapers).

smiling lady

Street vendor.

little girl

Pretty socks. Only one shoe.


Anyone know what this game is called?

mall shop

Inside the Joburg Mall again. One man amidst a sea of plastic packages and mannequin heads.

undressed mannequin

The Joburg Mall is full of weird mannequins, which I love. I’m not sure what to say about the one on the right…So many thoughts come to mind but none of them are appropriate for this blog.

guy outside

This guy asked me to take his photo as I crossed a very busy street. I shot quickly to avoid being run over.

coffee roasting

Ethiopian coffee beans roasting. I obviously didn’t shoot this photo using the walk-and-shoot strategy described above. I was sitting down at this point, about to drink some delicious coffee and eat some delicious Ethiopian food.


View of Jeppe Street from the veranda of the Ethiopian restaurant where we ate. Great street to photograph, horrible street to drive.

I love, love, love Little Addis. It’s one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Jozi. If you like Ethiopian culture and food, or think there’s a chance that you might, you should go there. Both JoburgPlaces and Ancient Secrets do Little Addis tours.

This photo display style serves a dual purpose, by the way. I am struggling with time management at the moment and actually didn’t have time to edit these pics, even if I’d wanted to. Please let me know what you think — maybe I’ll go uncut more often.

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  • Reply katarzynapawelczyk June 5, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    You make me miss going out and taking photos, guess NY doesn’t inspire me like Jozi does.

    • Reply 2summers June 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks. That’s quite a compliment for Jozi!

  • Reply Tim van Rooyen June 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    More than good enough, unedited.

  • Reply mvschulze June 5, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Both edited (processed) images, and unedited camera shots have wonderful merit, although ideally you would want to choose your preference in a story. But when time is tight, you do what you can. To me ….that’s a priority you have to decide. But time aside, unedited images are often preferred. A realistic shot in a club, for instance, may convey considerable more feeling, than a straightened, cropped and post processed image. Love your work.

    • Reply 2summers June 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks. I appreciate the feedback!

  • Reply eremophila June 6, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Uncut keeps the mood! 🙂

  • Reply Domica June 6, 2013 at 3:47 am

    I love the uncut photos and I feel as strongly about your blog. What a great place to come and forget about the day… I love it here.;)

    The game above looks a little like Mancala, but with more cups. Given the location ~ I’m probably wrong. What is the game called?

    • Reply 2summers June 6, 2013 at 7:17 am

      Hi Domica, thanks so much, that’s a great compliment! I’ve since learned from two other readers that the game is called Bao. It’s popular throughout Africa but apparently most prevalent in East Africa.

      • Reply Domica June 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Sweet. The board looks complicated but I love old, foreign games. It’s kinda my thing… I’m going to have to get my hands on that Bao.

        Meanwhile, keep doing what you are doing… Your blog makes me want to vacation in Jo.


  • Reply Michelle Wiebe June 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Shooting from the hip! You evoke Robert Frank with this style. Nice to see it played out in digital format.

  • Reply Little Addis, Uncut | SA BLoggers June 6, 2013 at 7:51 am

    […]   […]

  • Reply zimbo64 June 6, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Very interesting blog Heather. I think the game they are playing looks like Tsoro. We used to play it when we were kids in Zimbabwe. There are 4 rows of 8 holes. Here is a link I found.

  • Reply panos48 June 6, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Reblogged by SA BLOGGERS –

  • Reply Jeroen June 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I do the hip photos now and then too – but feel like a thief snatching people’s images.

    • Reply 2summers June 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      I felt that way a little bit too. But did it anyway.

  • Reply tenneymason June 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Shooting from the hip can be very effective; but I would definitely follow-up with a good edit.

    • Reply 2summers June 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Is this your way of saying you don’t like my unedited shots?

  • Reply Jozi Rediscovered June 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Shooting from the hip, quite literally 🙂 Love this post, and I had no idea Little Addis even existed, so thanks so much for writing (and shooting) this post.

    • Reply 2summers June 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for reading it! You should check out Little Addis, it’s awesome.

  • Reply Sine June 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    love your new method. I agree that lots of good scenes are spoiled once you lift the camera. It seems kind of sneaky to take pics without people noticing, but it’s very effective. As long as you don’t sell any of your pics, I suppose. Otherwise there are some ethical boundaries, no? I’ve actually always wondered about that legal side. Even if you don’t sell the pics, if they help “sell” your blog and if you might even have advertisers, can you use people’s pictures, especially face shots? I suppose newspapers do it, in the name of news, and I suppose a blog should fall in the same line of business, but still – the photographer I took my classes with in Joburg said he never photographs people for that very reason. Just animals:-)
    Oh, and I also thought the game was Mancala, but I didn’t count the cups. I’ve always wanted to get one of those boards but never really knew what I’d do with it, and the other day I saw one in the home of a South African and she had put little tea lights in every single cup, it looked stunning!

    • Reply 2summers June 7, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Well, this is an age-old question. I used to debate the issue at length when I worked in the communications department of an international NGO and had to figure out how to handle permissions for the people we photographed. We never reached a satisfactory conclusion.

      People have been taking photos of other people and benefiting from those photos (either personally or financially or whatever) ever since photography was invented. News organizations included. It’s true that I normally ask people before photographing them, and this time I didn’t. But even when I do ask, and the person says yes, it could still be considered exploitation if I later benefit from the photo by posting it on my blog. But I’m not going to stop photographing people because of this uncertainty.

      Interesting that your photography teacher said that he doesn’t take photos of people, only of animals. Obviously this is an extreme comparison to make, but couldn’t photographing animals be considered exploitative too? The animal doesn’t know it’s being photographed and doesn’t get compensated 🙂

      • Reply Sine June 9, 2013 at 11:56 pm

        yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve also pretty much decided that it’s not a reason to stop taking pictures and sharing them with the world. It does good in so many ways that it probably outweighs any harm. It’s also often way too complicated to ask permission, and often in SA I’ve had people beg me to take their picture, it makes them so happy. As for animals, no idea. I don’t think he was worried about the morals of it, just the legality. And so far animals haven’t sued him I guess:-)

  • Reply Mr Bunny Chow June 7, 2013 at 1:04 am

    I agree with Zimbo64 although we spelled it tsuro which means rabbit in Shona, I’m not sure if this was just us getting it wrong though.

    • Reply 2summers June 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Seems like the game has different names, and possibly different variations, in different countries.

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish June 8, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I’d rather see your stuff unedited than not at all, but actually any of these are great to see. I love watching people and always want to ‘capture’ them in a great human moment, but I worry that if I do manage to end up with something I want to ‘publish’ whether Facebook or something more commercial, what kind of trouble am I in if I have no idea where to find them to get permission? Lately I’ve run into two other photographers who recommended ‘shooting from the hip’ in order not to alert people that they’re on the spot, thereby getting the natural pic you want, so I’ve started practicing that. I figure if the folks are on the public street, they’re fair game as long as I’m not planning on destroying them emotionally (ala “Walmartian” type photos, or my-best-friend-drunk-on-her-butt stuff). I only want to show people at their best, happiest, most human. But still, I suppose not getting their permission is some sort of violation. It’s a quandary.

    • Reply 2summers June 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Yes, it’s a bit of a moral minefield. I try not to think about it too much 🙂

  • Reply beeseeker June 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Works for me, your photos always create the atmosphere of the moment. They do that here. You have a good feel for what makes the “right” shot. Go with it!

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough June 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I’m certain I would love Little Addis. But I know a bit about the difficulty of taking photos in crowded places. I’ve tried in the open markets here in Ecuador, but it’s not easy.

    Sara and I have finally moved into our long-term rental here in Ecuador, and furniture arrived over the weekend. Now we have some place to sit. Maybe that means I’ll be able to write again. It’s not easy to concentrate on blogging while we’re trying to get settled in a new country.

    Hope you are well, my friend. Any chance you will ever come visit us in Ecuador?


    • Reply 2summers June 20, 2013 at 8:55 am

      I would LOVE to visit you in Ecuador. I’ve never been to South America! Added to the list 🙂

  • Reply wiggie March 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I know the game as Morabaraba (in South Africa and Lesotho), and called Tsoro (as correctly mentioned by zimbo64 above) in Zimbabwe.

    • Reply 2summers April 1, 2014 at 7:07 am

      Thanks Wiggie! I appreciate the comment.

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