Profile

Georgina Goodwin

A Maasai boy herding calves home at sunset through Kenya's South Rift, taken by Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
A young Maasai herder brings his calves home at sunset through the arid lands of Kenya's South Rift. Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin explains: "With Maasai children now often missing school to take their livestock greater distances to find pasture, this image captures the wider impact of our climate crisis." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM lens at 1/5000 sec, f/5.6 and ISO400. © Georgina Goodwin

As an independent documentary photographer born and bred in Kenya, Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin has seen more than her fair share of tragedy and trauma – the resulting evocative images have grabbed the world's attention.

Because of the nature of her work, it's important for Georgina to attempt to create a strong connection with her subjects before she starts capturing their stories. The resulting images have appeared in top-flight publications and media outlets including The New York Times, Newsweek, Vogue Italia, Financial Times, Elle Magazine, BBC, CNN and many more. She also works closely with a range of news agencies and humanitarian organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Everyday Climate Change.

Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin.


Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Specialist areas: Documentary, photojournalism
Favourite Kit:
Canon EOS 5DS
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

"I think it helps that I'm easy to connect with," the Nairobi-based professional begins. "I can read body language well, I speak fluent Kiswahili, as well as a few words of various African and European languages, which helps me to bond with the people I photograph."

Georgina specialises in documenting African social issues, women and the environment, and her work has been exhibited in major cities across the globe. "I love Kenya: I was born here, my parents were born here, my grandfather helped Kenya become independent. As a developing nation, and with Nairobi being an important hub for the region, Kenya attracts a lot of interest from the rest of the world, but the country is changing fast."

"There are so many stories to document, many deeply inspiring," she continues. "What keeps me shooting is the need to photograph these changes, not only to make sure they are documented for history's sake, but also to bridge the gap between people, animals and the environment. I want to show people something they didn't know existed or was a problem, not only in Kenya and East Africa, but in Africa and the world as a whole."

A newborn baby is placed on its mother's stomach in the main hospital in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, western Tanzania, taken by Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Baby Marian is placed on her mother Tosha, 32, moments after being born at the main hospital in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in western Tanzania. "Nyarugusu started 20 years ago and is now home to around 150,000 people, of whom 80% are women and children who fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. This image documents a powerful and beautiful moment where life, hope and strength overcome tragedy and trauma," says Georgina. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens at 32mm, 1/60 sec, f/4 and ISO1000. © Georgina Goodwin

In 2016, Georgina's photo series documenting climate change in the Rift Valley, life in a Samburu women's village liberated from underage marriage, and female genital mutilation won several categories at the Kenya Photo Awards. Georgina's images documenting refugee children in Tanzania were a finalist series at the 2018 Siena International Photo Awards. Her portfolio of personal work documenting cancer patients in Africa was nominated for a Prix Pictet 2015 Award, and in 2014 her coverage of the Westgate Terror Attack scooped the Kenyan News Photographer of the Year award.

A woman looks for signs of rain as she stands among the carcasses of her animals in Somaliland, taken by Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Amina, 45, looks up for any sign of rain as she stands amid the carcasses of her livestock in central Somaliland, 2017. "This was the result of three years of failed rains, in an already fragile and exhausted environment," says Georgina. "At least 6.2 million people needed assistance during a drought on a scale not seen since 1974. In one frame, this image highlights our urgent need to draw up a plan for adapting to climate change." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens at 24mm, 1/500 sec, f/14 and ISO400. © Georgina Goodwin

"My ultimate goal with my photography is to capture moments that show people something they didn't already know," Georgina reveals. "I shoot looking for emotion and I want to inspire those who see my work to care about the people, wildlife and places which make up our world."

Using a palette of bold and bright colours, Georgina will shoot a scene from every conceivable angle to ensure she's got the shot that succinctly tells the story. "Far, wide, medium, close; from the right, left, centre; from up high, down low; outside, inside: I will find every possibility, and if the scene I'm shooting is changing, well the possibilities continue!" Georgina laughs. "However, I feel it is important to make time to shoot without an agenda; it gives me freedom and time to create, and reminds me why I love it."

A woman cries at the new arrivals centre in Kakuma Refugee Settlement on the Kenya-South Sudan border, taken by Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Elizabeth Aguek Lino, 16, at the new arrivals centre in the Kakuma Refugee Camp on the Kenya-South Sudan border. She cries as she recounts how her father and eldest brother were shot and killed and she then had to walk barefoot for 21 days with her mother and twin brothers to escape South Sudan’s fighting, in February 2018. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/30 sec, f/4.5 and ISO2000. © Georgina Goodwin

What's your go-to shooting setup?

"I shoot Av, using f/5.6 to give enough in focus, moving to f/8, f/11, even f/16 for scene setters. I use available light and ISO400-640 for even tone and contrast."

What's been your most valuable career lesson?

"Always being polite and courteous to my clients, treating those whom I photograph with the utmost respect, and getting myself out there in every way possible."

How has your style evolved?

"I used to shoot with an 18mm, but that distorts too much. I also became conscious of my edges and backgrounds so my images are cleaner and have more intention now."

How do you decide which parts of a scene to capture?

"Scene setters first, then action, then portraits and finally close-ups. If something interesting or magical happens, this method stops and I get to capturing that."

Do you shoot with an agenda?

"Almost always. I shoot every situation in as many ways as possible in the time given."

One Thing I Know
Georgina Goodwin

"My top advice for creating strong documentary photography is to start with a clear vision of what you want to say. Then you can be clear about what you want to photograph and how you are going to do it. Shooting each situation from different angles and staying with the moment until it passes will give you plenty of choice when it comes to choosing your final series of shots. Work to find the light, tune in to capture emotions, keep your frame edges tidy, and be conscious of creating the background in your frames."

Facebook: Georgina Goodwin Photojournalist
Instagram: @ggkenya
Twitter: @ggkenya
Website: www.georginagoodwin.com

Georgina Goodwin's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Georgina Goodwin's kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.

Cameras

Canon EOS 5DS

Combine fast, instinctive DSLR handling with 50.6-megapixel resolution, and capture exquisite detail in every moment. "The file sizes are huge, which gives photographers great quality, plus the ability to crop in," says Georgina.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The successor to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III that Georgina loves. "An absolutely incredible camera, such a huge step up from the EOS 5D Mark II," Georgina says of the Mark III. "It's my most trusted piece of kit!"

Lenses

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

This versatile, compact pancake lens has a fast maximum aperture to enable low-light shooting and depth-of-field control, whilst providing smooth, quiet autofocus when shooting video. "My favourite lens. It's so small I can carry it anywhere, it's great for getting close-ups, it's razor sharp and very fast," says Georgina.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

A favourite telephoto zoom lens with photographers of every kind, this is the latest version of the Mark II lens that Georgina loves. "It covers a critical focal length, so I can get in close without invading scenes, and I get that lovely compressed look that makes subjects pop," Georgina explains.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

Favoured by photographers who want to travel light, this lens delivers stunning image quality with advanced image stabilisation. Georgina says: "My workhorse lens! On assignments when there's a lot to shoot, the variability in range allows me to capture pretty much everything."

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