The National Portrait Gallery

Mwasaru by Gorm Shackelford

This photograph was on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London, as part of the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (13 November 2014–22 February 2015), and it will be on show at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield (2 May–16 August 2015), as part of the touring exhibition. This photograph is from a series of portraits called In the African East. I took these photographs in the Taita Hills, in Kenya, where I lived for several years, while working on my PhD in biodiversity, conservation, and conflicts between agriculture and nature. The man is named Mwasaru, and he was harvesting sugar cane near one of my field sites when he agreed to be photographed. Like many of the portraits in this series, I took this photograph against a white cloth background, draped over a wooden frame that I could set up in the middle of the farmland.