Travel Portraits from Zimbabwe and Tips for Taking Travel Portraits

Travel Portraits Zimbabwe

I love taking photos when I travel and travel portraits in particular because people are always the star attraction of any great travel experience.

No matter how beautiful the scenery or how interesting the culture if the people aren’t warm and welcoming then your travel experience will be lacking.

Zimbabwe’s a great place for taking travel portraits because the people are incredibly friendly, they wear bright clothes and, even though  most Westerners may think people in Zimbabwe don’t  have a lot to feel happy about, their smiles are dazzling.

Many Zimbabweans have been dealing with political problems, poverty and all the problems associated with that for a lifetime. Yet they are still friendly, smiley and welcoming so opportunities to take great travel portraits abound.

Here are a few of travel portraits I took while travelling round Zimbabwe last year. Many of these photos were taken at the markets in the high-density urban area of Mbare in Harare or in the less high-density but still heavily-populated residential suburb of Kuwadzana where my former student Sunwell lives.

I hope you enjoy these travel portraits from Zimbabwe and the travel portrait tips below.

Shoppers at Mbare Market

zimbabwe faces mbare women

zimbabwe faces mbare man

zimbabwe faces mbare woman

People stare if you carry your bag on your head in Australia but transporting bags or even buckets of water on your head is one of my favourite memories of Zimbabwe.

zimbabwe faces shopping woman

Striking a pose comes naturally to Zimbabweans

zimbabwe faces school kids

Mbare Market stall holders and artisans

zimbabwe faces mbare boy

zimbabwe faces mbare boy2

zimbabwe faces mbare scout

Sunwell was one of my students when I taught at a primary school in rural Zimababwe in 1992. Teachers aren’t supposed to have favourites but I always had a soft spot for Sunwell. You can see a photo of him back then here.

There was a terrible drought in Zimabwe that year and everyone in that community of subsistence farmers suffered. It was hard for me to see children starving and people of all ages dying prematurely, harder still for the families battling to survive in that environment. 

But I never forgot Sunwell and a few years ago he tracked me down on Facebook. It was magical and healing to see him again, now all grown up with children of his own. Sunwell’s a big Manchester United fan and here he is in his Man U strip for a photo op outside the small house he shares with three other families.

zimbabwe faces sunwell

Fressy – Sunwell’s wife

zimbabwe faces sunwell wife

Sunwell and Fressy’s son Tanaka

zimbabwe faces sunwell son2

Little Genevieve, Sunwell and Fressy’s daughter

zimbabwe faces geneview

One of their housemates

zimbabwe faces neighbour

A neighbor peering through the fence to see what all the excitement’s about

zimbabwe faces neighbour2

Safari guide Reggie

zimbabwe faces reggie

Harare residents use the dusty field behind the Rainbow Towers Hotel as a short cut. I hung out there a lot chatting with people and taking photos of them. The red earth and cloudless sky makes a stunning backdrop. 

zimbabwe faces woman headscarf
zimbabwe faces wave

Tips for Taking Travel Portraits

1. Always ask if you can take people’s photo – you can just point your camera at people and give them a questioning thumbs up to see if they’re okay having their photo taken if you can’t speak their language.

2. If people don’t want their photo taken don’t take it.

3. If people do want their photo taken always take it even if you don’t think they’ll make a great photo. You don’t want anyone to feel left out.

4. Markets and festivals are great for portraits.

5. Get up early or take your photos in the late afternoon to catch the best light.

6. Take your time and talk to people before you take their photo. Sometimes people are shy but once they get to know you a bit they might feel more comfortable having their photo taken.

7. Offer to email people their photos and do it. Get them to jot down their email address in your notebook and immediately write down a description like ‘yellow Hawaiian shirt man at market’ so you can send the right photo to the right person.

8. Protect your belongings because you look like an obvious tourist when you’re taking photos and you’re distracted so at risk. Just take your camera with you on photo walks and leave everything else in your hotel room or safe.

Do you like taking travel portraits? 

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  1. jenny@atasteoftravel April 30, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Lovely photos Annabel and some great tips!

  2. Seana Smith April 30, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Lovely photos, Annabel, all those smiles will stay with me today, and Tanaka is an especial gem. It can be hard to ask sometimes but then I always think, well, I don’t mind if people take my photo.

    • Annabel Candy April 30, 2014 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Yes what a lovely little lad. I can’t resist asking although it does take some getting used to. Many people can’t appreciate their own beauty so are suspicious of strangers wanting to take photos. Thankfully most Zimbabweans don’t have that problem and will frequently clamor to have their portrait taken before you even have a chance to get your camera out.

  3. Lucy Krajewski August 29, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Is Zimbabwe safe for travelling woman?

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