Sunday Best depicts a person’s finest clothing worn on special occasions. In this case, Sunday and often church. In Kenya it’s a big thing. On beginning the project, I fatefully walked into Kibera‘s oldest photo studio 4 days before it closed forever. Weekend Studio opened in 1980,in Kenya’s largest slum, Kibera. The photographer, David (first portrait), who leased the studio for 37 years, told me that due to phone cameras few people wanted studio portraits and clients nowadays requested only for passport photos. He stressed his need to retire and return home to family. I couldn’t persuade him to stay and became troubled by the studios imminent closure. One week later I decided to take over the hire of the studio myself. This would keep it open and it was the perfect venue to shoot my Sunday Bests.
I’ve now photographed for 7 Sundays in a row at Weekend Studio and the portrait I took of David on his last ever Sunday before he left, hangs in Weekend Studio. Above David waits for clients on his last Sunday and a polaroid I took for him on the same day.
“My favorite possession is my doll and everything my sister admires is mine.” 8 year old Joy talks about her sister Meyer who’s 3. The children walked into the studio on their way to Sunday church.
Margaret is my landlady. She was born in Kibera and sells fish outside the studio on weekdays. When I asked her about her Sunday dress she said “I took off my shoes to be closer to God” and then added “I choose to wear this on Sundays to be similar to Sister Maria.”
A father daughter portrait. They are also my neighbors and sell vegetables and mandazi’s outside the studio. The little girl was dressed up solely for this portrait.
I’m still waiting for this lady to come and pick up her portrait. It hangs at Weekend Studio until she does. For a few Sundays I’ve seen her walk hurriedly past to church. She is dressed differently but insistently elegant. Every person who sits for a portrait gets a print to take home, I’ve photographed over 400 people now and occasionally I have a queue. The ‘best’ of Sunday Best, I get framed at Wafula’s Studio across the street from mine and when people come to collect their image, I record their story. I can’t wait to hear her story – this stylish lady in blue with red shoes.
Behind the Scenes
My Weekend crew out side the studio. Right to left Peter, Evelyn, myself and a stranger who photobombed our shot..!
I rent out different back drops from other photo studios in Kibera each week to create variation at Weekend Studio. Although this is in fact the back wall beautifully painted by an artist in Kibera.