Life in Liberia: the story behind the photographs

The first introduction many of our supporters have to the children who receive Mary’s Meals is through our photography. In his latest blog, our communications officer Gerry takes us behind the scenes of some of his favourite, and not so favourite, photos from Liberia!

I spend a lot of my time in Liberia interviewing the children whose lives have been transformed because they are now receiving food every school day thanks to Mary’s Meals.

Getting the right photos to accompany the interviews is often a challenge, but when it works, it’s great. Here a few of the things I’ve learnt.

1. Take your time. Don’t just jump in and begin snapping away.

Taking Melvina’s picture was not easy at first, because she didn’t want to smile. But I showed her how to use the camera and she took some great photos of me and the Mary’s Meals School Feeding Officer, Rhoda. After that, she gave us a great smile!


2. Groups of children are often easier to photo than individuals. 

But it can be a different challenge to keep them from getting too excited. I try to get them to do something active so they can think about that instead.

3. Think how the picture might look to the audience. 

Given hand gestures can mean different things to different cultures, I am always trying to get children to raise their hands or adopt other poses that everyone understands! 

4. Prepare for the unexpected. 

This photo of a boy enjoying his Mary’s Meals was completely spontaneous. He was just finishing his cornmeal when I took his photo, and he adopted this great pose, with a satisfied grin.

5. Be aware of what other people are doing around you. 

This girl is telling her friends not to make fun of her.

6. Sometimes a photo just works, as this group of school cooks shows.

7. Review your photos.

And sometimes no matter what I do, it’s only when I get back to the office and see the pictures on a full-size screen that I realise that what I thought was a great photo cannot be used, like this student who seems to be carrying a huge torch!