Scenes From Stone Town

I’ve just finished looking through the photos I took during my six days in Zanzibar, winnowing down the group of pictures that I plan to share on the blog. I nearly cried about halfway through, trying to figure out where I will even begin to tell the story of this trip.

I’ve been home for two days and the more I think about it, the more certain I am that Zanzibar is my favorite place in Africa (after Joburg). At the very least, Zanzibar — and specifically Stone Town — is my favorite place in Africa to take photos.

As I said, I have a lot to say about Zanzibar and it will take me a while to get all the pictures ready. But here are a few shots, mostly portraits, from Stone Town to get things started.


Insanely happy kid on a doorstep.


Cat on a doorstep (one of the few dark-colored cats we saw — most Zanzibari cats are white). 


Man on a doorstep. I love the “Just do it” graffiti on the left. 


More kids on a doorstep. Doorsteps (and their accompanying doors) are a big deal in Stone Town.


Artisan making souvenirs, the old-fashioned way.


Dr. A.A. Duchi, a Zanzibari pathologist who trained in the former Soviet Union and the U.K. Dr. Duchi imparted an extraordinary amount of information about himself in the 45 seconds it took me to take his portrait. He requested specifically that I include his doctor sign (top left) in the photo.


I needed a closeup of Dr. Duchi’s shades.



As you can see, Stone Town is a fantastic place for street photography. Most of the people I asked were perfectly happy to be photographed, although I also took dozens (okay, hundreds) of sneaky shots that allowed me to capture candid scenes without interrupting my subjects. The above photo of the man reading a newspaper, for example, was taken on the sly.

To take these candid shots, I set my camera to “P” (program), held it firmly against my stomach (to prevent shakiness), pointed my body toward a scene I wanted, and stole a few rapid-fire snaps. This strategy worked particularly well in Stone Town’s narrow streets. (This style of candid photography, taking photos of people without their knowledge, is controversial. I usually don’t do it but in Stone Town the temptation was too great.)

Coming up soon: Beaches, food, markets, hotels, tours, and cats. Lots and lots of cats.

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  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish July 14, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Looks like a fascinating place. I’m always tense when I take street photos. The professional photographer Valerie Jardin keeps assuring me that people out in public are “fair game”, but when they frown, I crumble. Besides, I like to catch them engrossed in something besides the photographer. Maybe I’ll try your sneaky method! 🙂

    • Reply 2summers July 14, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Yes, I also read an article by a South African street photographer recently that advises the same thing. But I also struggle and really prefer to ask people directly if I can. The sneaky method was particularly effective in this environment though, and allowed me to get some shots that I never would have gotten otherwise. It was a fun experiment!

  • Reply mvschulze July 14, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Facinating. Can’t wait for the trip story. M 🙂

    • Reply 2summers July 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Thanks! Coming soon.

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