Joachim Ladefoged in Gambia & Senegal for “Glasses for Africa”

 Poor vision continues to plague undeveloped areas of the world where finding an optician is costly and time-consuming. Danish optometry chain Nyt Syn, or “New Vision,” strives to make a difference with their “Glasses for Africa” program. Nyt Syn collected eyeglasses from more than 70,000 people in Denmark. Six opticians and a nurse then traveled to low-income areas of Gambia and Senegal to administer eye exams and fit them with the collected glasses. Joachim Ladefoged accompanied them on their journey to villages around Africa, shooting video and reportage-style images to document the trip.

As people finished their exam and were given a pair of donated glasses, Ladefoged was there to take each person’s picture. The portraits are featured on Nyt Syn’s website, in store displays, and the corporate magazine. The print campaign has been shortlisted for a Creative Circle Award. While the portraits show people sitting still and refined, their visible reactions of the joy and awe of being able to see clearly are captured in Ladefoged’s video footage.

Recalls Ladefoged, “The trip was nothing like any other corporate/commercial shoot I have ever done, just to go to the areas where they would set up the eye exams was an 8 hour car ride in to the bush on a bumpy dirt road. Then when we arrived at midnight all of a sudden out of the dark a man dressed in green leaves and a painted face holding a machete jumps up in the front of the car, scaring us like crazy. Then music and singing started and the whole village was waiting up for the group to welcome us.”
The rest of the night was spent celebrating the arrival of the group. They were welcomed with food made over an open fire. Says Ladefoged, “People were so happy to be able to get a pair of glasses, and happy to have their portrait taken.”


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