Photographing The Streets Of Addis

Ethiopian photographer Girma Berta takes us inside his ongoing Instagram project.

Photo: Girma Berta. Courtesy of the photographer.
Addis Ababa is a mosaic, says Girma Berta. Like a mosaic, the city is a distinct patchwork of rough moving parts that taken together create beautiful art.

“Most of the images that were created in the past tend to show a preconceived notion of the country. They’re either touristic or they’re about poverty. It’s a one-sided imagery” the Ethiopian photographer and creative director tells Okayafrica. With his ongoing Instagram series, Berta is documenting another side of his city, one iPhone-shot photo at a time.

#StreetsOfAddis began as a hashtag on Berta’s personal Instagram. It later became the theme of an exhibition, and most recently, the foundation for an Ethiopian street photography community. Berta, who’s also part of the @EverydayHornOfAfrica collective, encourages his fellow Addis-based photographers to share their own images for the @StreetsOfAddis Instagram feed.

“The Addis Ababa photo scene is growing,” Berta tells us. The community is steadily increasing as more galleries, events and workshops geared towards photography and photographers pop up. According to Berta, camera phones are allowing more and more Ethiopians to take an interest in photography. “People are realizing that beauty isn’t always about setting up a scene or taking a photo of oneself,” he says. For Berta, photography is all about the rawness of a moment.

Girma Berta, founder of #StreetsOfAddis. Courtesy of Berta.
In Addis, Berta says he’s always on his toes. He never knows what he’s going to see around the corner. “Events seem somewhat random but in a very beautiful way” he says.

With his Instagram posts, Berta usually keeps the descriptions vague for the sake of encouraging debate and interpretation. “Each individual has a personal experience in their lives of what I have captured in my photos” he says.

Although Berta doesn’t have a single favorite photo, there is one he especially loves: a photo of a man smoking a cigarette in front of a small brightly-painted red shop in a “shabby” part of Addis. “I always pass by this shop and it always draws my eyes towards it by its bright paint and its contrasting color from its dull surroundings,” says Berta. “On the day I took the picture it felt like the perfect time was upon me and I just had to capture the moment.”

For Berta, someone needs to be doing the work of documenting Addis Ababa’s history. He’s happy for that someone to be him.

“I love Addis. It has everything in it. Both the old and young. The rich and the poor. The ugly and the beautiful.”

Keep up with Berta (@gboxcreative) and @StreetsOfAddis on Instagram.

  • Old Age • Photo by @gere1110 #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #Bw #blackandwhite #ethiopianphotographers   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • ? • Photo by @naderphoto #StreetsofAddis #StreetPhotography #VSCO #EthiopianPhotographers #EverydayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Mother's Love • Photo by @ab_teshome #StreetsofAddis #StreetPhotography #EthiopianPhotographers #AddisLife #Ethiopia A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Framez • Photo by @eyerusalem_a_jiregna #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #StreetPhotos A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • Street Style • Photo by @nicolemarieens #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #AddisAbaba #EveryDayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

• Team Work • Photo by @abiy_solomon #StreetsOfAddis #StreetsOfAddis #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #VSCO A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

  • The Wait • ? @naderphoto #StreetsOfAddis #StreetPhotography #AfricanCity #Ethiopia #EveryDayAfrica   A photo posted by Streets Of Addis (@streetsofaddis) on

News Brief
Burna Boy performs at the Warner Music Group pre-Grammy party in Hollywood on January 2020. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Warner Music)

Burna Boy, Tinariwen, Michael Kiwanuka & More Nominated For 2021 Grammy Awards

The Nigerian star and Tuareg band are nominated in the newly named Best Global Music Album category.

The nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards are in.

The awards show, which will be hosted by Trevor Noah, will see some of the world's biggest artists up for categories like Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

As we previously wrote about, the Grammys have renamed the international category of Best World Music Album to Best Global Music, in an effort to reportedly make it more modern and inclusive.

In that new Best Global Music Category, Nigerian afro-fusion star Burna Boy is nominated alongside Tuareg desert rock group Tinariwen, NYC afrobeat outfit Antibalas, Brazilian-American Bebel Gilberto and British-Indian sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Interview: Mau From Nowhere Reinvents Himself

The Kenyan artist goes soul-searching with his new MFN EP.