SHELA
A Hat Story.
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Shela Hat Festival is an art competition organized once every two years in Shela, Lamu County, Kenya. It brings together people from Lamu and Shela who come to express their creativity through hat making. The festival was pioneered by Roland Klemp and Herbert Menza as a way of promoting culture among the Lamu people.

We travelled to Shela, Lamu County, as a consort of four creatives, to experience this  festival and also take(capture and give to the competitors) portraits of the competitors with their hats. While there, we noticed that the photographers on ground relied on natural light to photograph their subjects.

For a different yet consistent look, we crafted a mini-studio with two professional lights and a dark-green backdrop. We gelled the rim light red to separate the subject from the background and also for much needed drama and depth. The key light captured the raw expressions of our subjects as complimented by their respective hats.

On location, we tethered our camera  to a computer and a small printer that allowed us to quickly process and print images of each contestants, and handed back to them as prints  for their keeps. 
Their happiness on receiving their beautiful prints was indescribable, and that is what we treasured most.

In post-production, we added frames around the photos using Lamu Doors - inspired motifs, designed by one of our creatives.

A giant Butterfly, worn by Feisal Salim, (which doubled as a hand bag when the wings are compressed),from Mpango Art Collective, came in first. 
‘In second place, Mr.Lonely’. Worn by Ahmed Ali ’Midnight’ Asman, who had carved the expressive face of Lonely out of paper maché.
For their colorful Chameleon, also from Mpango Art Collective, which came in third
Behind the Scenes


We like to give a special thanks to:

Salim Mirza
Our kind-hearted and helpful guide.
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Ahmed Osman
Courtesy of Silverstone Air
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Captain Nasir 
Our Chauffeur
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Peter Ndung’u
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Jared Maina