Mustafa has felt significantly empowered ever since he joined Aïda at the Addis Foto Fest in 2014. "It opened doors I had only dreamed of before," he says. "One of the most significant opportunities that arose from this was a collaboration on the END Fund project in 2022. Being part of this project and having my work curated by Aïda alongside other exceptional photographers from Africa, such as John Kalapo from Mali, Ala Kheir from Sudan, Meseret Argaw from Ethiopia, Sarah Waiswa from Uganda and Omoregie Osakpolor from Nigeria fills me with immense pride and gratitude. I am honoured to be part of this group of photographers and look forward to more collaborations that contribute to the world of art, advocacy and positive change."
For Mulugeta, it's a similar story which he believes applies to the wider community too. "It is very important for African photographers, especially for those young and emerging photographers," he says. "It creates and facilitates a unique platform for experience sharing as we, the participants, also go to our respective countries and share our experiences that we gained at the exhibition [with] local photographers."
The importance of printing is something Mekbib is keen to highlight. "We're so used to seeing vacation and baby pictures on our phones," he says. "When you print photos out and you see them large-scale, the tendency is for the piece to be viewed as art rather than as something you just 'like' and pass through. You stay and be mesmerised – you immerse yourself in the piece."
As well as Canon printers, Mustafa is a big advocate for Canon Premium Fine Art Smooth FA-SM1 paper. "It offers exceptional colour reproduction and archival longevity, ensuring prints remain vibrant and fade-resistant over time," he explains. "It accurately captures vivid colours and subtle nuances, making it perfect for fine art and photography prints."
It's clear that with the Africa Foto Fair, Aïda sees it as a part of creating a global community, not just within Africa itself. "It's that sense of building a tribe of like-minded photographers," she says. "In the end, this is the challenge we all face – it's the same, just in different intensities. It's a way to say we all face the same thing. Right now, I think photography is at a difficult crossroads, but it means that we need to explore further than our comfort zones or our own location to see what everybody is producing."
The second edition of the Africa Foto Fair takes place in November, 2023 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Find out more at africafotofair.com.