The images in Friday Night seem formally quite different from your other work, such as Re: Collections, or even the series Kiosks and Market Day from Burkina Faso. Would you agree?
You are quite right that the images in Friday Night are different from my other work. I am by nature very formal in my approach to composition. I favor simplicity and symmetry in an attempt to foreground my subjects, whether they are people or objects, and emphasize their similarities and differences. This is clear in the Re: Collections project and in the Kiosks portfolio. Both are classic typologies in the tradition of August Sander and the Bechers. I think my African portraits fall into this category as well.
But I also like to experiment with the element of chance and challenge myself to move outside my comfort zone. That is what is behind Friday Night. I am literally shooting in the dark. I can see my primary subjects dimly, but the background of each image is unseen until my flash fires. Everyone is in constant motion, including myself, so every image is a surprise. The juxtaposition of contorted bodies, hands and feet, shadows and expressions is not something one can predict.
Another thing that distinguishes Friday Night from my other work is that I am an active participant in the process rather than an objective observer. I am caught up in the music, moving and sweating alongside the other dancers, reacting and interacting. This was not possible the first two or three times I visited Bereba. I had to get to know the villagers and earn their trust. I now feel very much at home in the village and an insider at the dance. Everyone expects me to make photographs and they are delighted with the results. I should add that I take back and distribute all the images that I make on each subsequent trip. I have more than 500 prints that I'll be handing out when I visit Bereba in December.
Interview with David Pace, 2011 Daylight/CDS Photo Awards Work-in-Process Prize Winner -
Interview with David Pace Winner, Daylight/CDS Photo Awards Work-in-Process Prize. The full interview is here. Very interesting. Great photos. Look carefully... in one of them a guy is wearing a typical full-on Barack Obama shirt!