Photographer: Bert Teunissen
Cousins. One of them is British-born Jason Otieno. The idea was to make a portrait of each nationality living in London: the entire world, so to say. I could make my choice and dazzling around the globe in my head I landed in Kenya. The first country in Africa I sat foot on years ago. It stole my heart immediately. Maybe a strange choice for a photographer who has been concentrating on Europe so much for the last 15 years, but there you go.
So here we have some ingredients that led to this picture: The World in London; immigration; photography. I think about August Sander who made an inventory of the different social classes in Germany almost 100 years ago. The shot of the '3 young farmers on their way to the fair' is an iconic photograph. I also think about Sonny Boy Williamson, performing his 'Bringing it Home' (an iconic song) wearing a bowler hat. The idea was born.
The entire execution I put in the hands of Simone Jay who spent months working her way into the Kenyan community in London and who did the styling. I found a great location, showing the walls of the Bank of England right at the time when the street was closed for road works so I could set up my 60-year-old Crown Graflex 4x5" without having to bother about traffic. A tribute to August Sander and to photography, a tribute to immigrants all over the world, a tribute to London and the 2012 Olympic Games.
My thanks go to The Photographers' Gallery, Simone Jay, Dan Walter Odamo, Jason Otieno, Evans Omondi, Gerald and my dear friend and companion Freddie Brazil.
by Bert Teunissen, photographer - www.bertteunissen.com