In 2002, southern Africa was affected by food shortages due to “declining food production caused by prolonged dry spells, floods and disruption of farming activities” (FAO report, April 2002). Malawi was one of the countries worst affected and in September of that year I spent a week documenting the affects of the food shortages there in the south-east of the country in Mulanje and Blantyre, assisted by staff from the Oxfam and GOAL relief agencies.
As a young photojournalist, I was caught up in the experience of “covering an African famine”. In the ten years since then I have learned of the need to spend time at a location to uncover and properly document the complete picture, not to stereotype residents as a foreign photographer, and to avoid the cliché image of the “Madonna and Child” (as you can see, I easily fell into that trap). The selection of the photographs is also important in determining what story and impression you want to give. In spite of this, the experience convinced me that documentary photojournalism was the route that I wanted to go with my photography.