Co-Conspirators: Georgina Goodwin, Photographer

Georgina Goodwin, Photographer via UBUNTU Blog
‘First World’ countries come in under the pretense that Africa needs saving, spiritually and economically, and they take away Africa’ s ability to work things out for themselves which is the only way for sustainability.

Georgina Goodwin is a freelance photographer born and raised in Kenya, and she's the eye behind the beautiful photos you've seen on our UBUNTU website, Instagram, and Facebook. We've loved working with her  unmatched talent and kind spirit to bring the UBUNTU story to life.

Georgina is a part of the Kenya we see: a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, artists, devoted friends, and people who believe that Africa is on the rise. We talked to her about her work in Africa and around the globe, and found out what event completely shifted her world as a photographer. 

How did you get your start in photography?

I was working as a stewardess on a super yacht in Cape Town in Feb 2003 when the Captain announced we were to set sail across the Indian Ocean to Malaysia. Knowing it would be the journey of a lifetime I went out and bought my first DSLR which happened to be a Canon EOS. I began taking photographs throughout the trip, they were all awful, but the need to start expressing myself and experiment through my camera began to emerge. When I left the yacht and returned to Kenya I worked as a camp manager in the Masai Mara. Buying my first digital camera, a Canon 10D, I began to photograph everything. I entered 2 images, a sunset cheetah and a very closeup of a lioness, into two Kenya Wildlife Photographer of the Year contests, one was judged by a master photographer from Magnum and National Geographic. I won both contests. This is April 2005. Realising I had some kind of talent I focused on photography and began taking pro-bono jobs, learning as I went. The jobs started coming in, the clients grew. My first big turning point was documenting Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007-8, within a week my style grew, my attitude matured, and my passion to tell true stories began. It’s now 10 years later and I’m proud to say that the hard work is at last paying off. I’ve been nominated for the prestigious international sustainability and photography Prix Pictet Award for my work documenting cancer in Africa, and won Kenyan News Photographer of the Year in 2013 for my coverage of the Westgate Attack. 

Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog
Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog
Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

What is the most unique shoot you've ever been on?

The most unique shoot I’ve been on – there have been a few that stand out. Meeting and photographing Mandela at the opening of a Mandela Trust hospital in Johannesburg in July 2011 was more than a dream come true. I cried with joy and was so overwhelmed by the experience. I have traveled to the most far-flung places of Kenya to photograph for the Fistula Foundation in western Kenya’s Pokotland, for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Dadaab Refugee Camps on the Kenya-Somali border, photographing Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007 and 2008 which completely shifted my entire concept and style photography, overwhelmingly so. 

Nelson Mandela by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Africa?

I think the biggest misconception about Africa is that her people cannot get by on their own and that Africa is backwards. “Oh Nairobi has skyscrapers?” ‘First World’ countries come in under the pretense that Africa needs saving, spiritually and economically, and they take away Africa’ ability to work things out for themselves which is the only way for sustainability. Teach someone how to fish rather than to give them fish. The involvement in aid in Africa has changed since this 1980's approach but aid agencies are now making a killing off the back of their projects in Africa, why would they stop?

How did you first get involved with UBUNTU? What's it like to work/shoot with our Kenya team?

I got involved with UBUNTU through Zane Wilemon, the founder. I met him through my sister and her husband and a mutual friend Chrissie Lam. Zane and Chrissie are incredibly passionate people who both love Africa, and they asked me to photograph the #loveisproject. From there they asked me to document UBUNTU. I have loved working with your UBUNTU Kenya team; they are exceptionally friendly and go out of their way to help you. UBUNTU Café and the whole UBUNTU brand is such a wonderful new and holistic experience, one that goes a long way to helping peoples’ everyday lives, and helping the planet. 

If you could give prospective entrepreneurs two pieces of advice, what would those be?

One would be to find something that you connect with - that speaks to you, that makes sense to you - and follow that with your heart. Living your passion will get your farther than trying to follow something that doesn’t speak to your heart. For one, you will wake up every day and it won’t be work - it will be soulfood.

Advice number two would be to make sure you make time in your life to actually enjoy it, to savor it and to treasure it. No matter what you do to get through your day, how hard you might have to work or choose to work, always make sure you have room to enjoy and give yourself a little something back. Life really is too short and we stuff it with all these pressures and stresses. What is the point unless we actually make time to enjoy being here! 

What did you eat for breakfast?

A banana-strawberry, pea protein, maca powder smoothie with chia seeds, made with my Nutribullet which I just totally adore! I have at least one healthy smoothie a day ;)

Favorite place you've traveled?

Mediterranean Europe in Summer -  to Italy – Venice, Florence and South of France, the vineyards, the cobbled roads, the rundown villas, the fountains, the dry stone walls lined with lavender. The winding farm lanes, the searing summer heat, the 10 litre beautiful fresh white wine, the fields of sunflowers, the church bell chiming, the fresh fruit banana ice cream, the deeply embedded detailed beauty of history everywhere you look. 

What do you never leave home without?

There are really only 2 things I don’t leave home without: my phone (iPhone6) and charger, and a bottle of water. Those are most important, I can get by all day with just those.

Cancer in Africa by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Margaret Ngendo, born in 1930 in rural Kiambu just outside Nairobi. Margaret is a role model in her community as grandmother to 15 children and an active community cancer support group member. For 15 year years she fought breast cancer it took that long to raise enough money to have the mastectomy. She is a true survivor. Cancer is on the rise in Africa, it is no longer a ‘western disease’.

Dawn Dreams by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Dust kicked up in Kamariny Stadium in Iten, Kenya's town of champions, marathon runners wake early each trains hard every day with their dreams of making it.

Long Shadows by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Aerial photo of sunrise and misty clouds over the tea farms of Tigoni just outside Nairobi in the highlands casting long shadows of gum trees lining farm tracks.

Maasai by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Masai women perform a wedding dance under the stormy African skies over the Amboseli plains in southern Kenya.

My Nairobi by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

From a photo series documenting Nairobi city as it continues to expand rapidly with buildings going up daily, here builders work on putting in glass panels high up on Kushee Towers in Upper Hill area.

Nairobi Rose Dawn by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Rose-tinted sunrise and mist starting off this dawn over downtown Nairobi and behind the view extends out into the city's ridges of residential areas.

South Rift Climate Change by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

Kenya, like the rest of the world, is experiencing climate change and variability and the associated adverse impacts. This photo series looks at the Olkiramatian area, a group ranch area in southern Kenya’s Kajiado district at the south of the Rift Valley.

Westgate by Georgina Goodwin via UBUNTU Blog

The body of 38 year old Mitul Shah lies in the main hall of the Oshwal Community Centre in Westlands nearby to the Westgate Shopping Centre where the Director of BIDCO, a large East African domestic products company, who was also a British Citizen, was killed during the 4 day attack by Al-Shabaab militants. Hundreds of well-wishers come to pay their last respects sprinkling rose petals over his body. Mitul by all accounts was said to be an incredible young man, full of vitality, love and vision. "There are not enough adjectives to describe him" said one BIDCO employee.

Follow Georgina on Instagram and Twitter

Brittany Chatburn

Austin, TX