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Sierra Leone wedding by Matt Badenoch

"Back in February of this year I got an email from an old friend of mine asking if I’d be interested in photographing her wedding celebrations in Freetown, Sierra Leone. 'Interested?!' I nearly fell off my chair with excitement! For context, after leaving University I’d lived in Freetown for 7 months, and had been looking for an opportunity to return for sometime. Sierra Leone is an incredible country which has had it’s fair share of bad luck over recent decades but has some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever meet and dam do they know how to party! 

The day started early as the couple got ready to receive a lot of the family who were travelling in from around the country. After some partying, eating and napping at the couples house, the celebrations moved over to a local bar for the rest of the evening for a short ceremony and lots of entertainment. There were certainly some challenges to deal with, notably the heat (just shy of 40 C at it’s hottest), trying to go unnoticed (a white boy photographer from the UK turned out to be a bit of a novelty) and everything running on African time (i.e. 2-3 hours late). But these challenges were small in comparison to being back out in Salone and having the opportunity to capture so much amazing energy and awesome people in a unique environment.

This was my first of two weddings in Africa in as many weeks (next stop Ethiopia), and after those two experiences I will be keeping my fingers firmly crossed for another opportunity to get back out there. Discovering/ experiencing new cultures through photographing a wedding is pretty spectacular. This is why I love shooting destination weddings, even despite all the extra time and work that goes into them"

All images (c) Matt Badenoch