Yet another challenge involved working with Santa Clara University, where I teach photography, to develop a study abroad program. After my third trip, one of my colleagues at the University suggested that we propose a study abroad program in Burkina Faso. Our proposal was accepted. We became co-directors of "Reading West Africa" and we began to learn about the challenges (and joys) of bringing a group of college students to a developing nation for a semester. We took our first cohort of students in the fall of 2009 and the second in the fall of 2010. This allowed me to spend three months in Burkina Faso each year. I had already become a familiar sight in the village, but by 2009 Bereba began to feel like home.
It was during this period that I began to attend the weekly Friday night dances at Le Cotonnier with my friends from the village. We drank warm beer and danced all night under the stars. Other than the generator that powers the music, there's no electricity and no light - a challenge for any photographer! I began to experiment with flash, dancing while I was shooting, and rarely looking through the viewfinder. This was not a "project": it was my life in the village. Boundaries collapsed: I made photographs as a participant rather than an observer. The element of chance became an integral part of the process since I never knew what images I was going to get.
Photography in Burkina Faso
Daylight Magazine just posted an interview with FAVL friend David Pace about his photographs from Burkina Faso, on their online blog. An excerpt: