The second interview in a series of short interviews with the creative team behind An Unexpected Family.


What were some of the challenges in shooting this documentary?

Shooting documentaries is a different world than conventional drama or commercial shooting. Whether we were operating the camera, recording sound or watching the monitor we had to be aware of everything around us. Riyad, the director, trusted me and gave me the freedom to move the camera. If we saw something compelling we stopped whatever we were doing and ran there.

The majority of the shoot took place at the HHF centre in the Lenana slum, which consists of a fenced off yard with a few classrooms made out of corrugated iron. The centre receives direct sunlight throughout the day so I relied heavily on this. This was a challenge and working with just natural light made me search for every bit of light. In every camera position I worked hard to compose the best picture while looking at the highlights and the shadows. The most unexpected thing was the clothes worn by everyone in the slum. Their outfits were bright and colorful and it made for an amazing combination with their dark skin.

When I first arrived I really had to study the way the light behaved at 1800m altitude and just under the equator. The beauty of this light is that even though it can be very harsh, it contrasted well with the beautiful black skin tones. I was particularly impressed by the natural light bouncing off the ground and travelling through the small windows into the classrooms was amazing. It is something that I only have ever seen using big lights thought big diffusion boards. It made me stop a few times and appreciate the beauty of the Mother Nature’s light.


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