Raised in Addis Ababa, Maheder Haileselassie, 26, is a photographer of genuinely humane sensibilities, as her photographic work illustrates. Though originally trained as a Civil Engineer, Maheder has been focusing on photography for the last three years and her images have appeared in various online platforms including the Guardian. Maheder says it was back in 2011, during the 4th year of her campus life that she began photographing her close friends and other subjects with her BlackBerry phone. Making random pictures changed from a hobby to an obsession and she was able to acquire an iPhone 4 on the following year, which gave her a better quality image. “I shot more and more every day,” she says.
Upon graduating from university, Maheder worked in the northern town of Shire Enda Selassie for nearly two years in the road construction project before returning to her home base in Addis Ababa. It was her stay and her witnessing of the unique daily life of people there that led to a belief that she must take her passion to another level and document her surroundings. She then bought Nikon D3200, an entry level professional camera and then started spending long hours reading online to master the techniques.
Maheder says photography gave her thrill and exhilaration and she uses it as a breathing mechanism for her thoughts. People and changes being a main inspiration to most of her documentary work, she also focuses on portraying a fair and accurate image of her country, the note on her website points out.
Maheder feels that there is a lack of women behind the camera and this has lent to an incomplete narrative of girlhood and womanhood. She believes the physical and emotional experience of feminine events is best captured by female photographers and being a female photographer at times gave her more access to situations that are otherwise closed to male colleagues.
Maheder has participated in various photo exhibitions including at Morning Star Mall in Addis Ababa on October, 2014, “In Quest for” Goethe-Institute Addis Ababa August 2016 and “East Africa Visual Artists Exhibitions, Nommo Gallery, Uganda. She has also taken part in “Photojournalists in Conflict”, an exhibition that is part of the World Press Freedom Celebrations in Finland Helsinki on May 2016 where the young photographer had a chance to meet many professional photographers and editors.
Maheder will also be presenting her works at the fourth edition of Addis Foto Fest which will take place from December 12th – 21st, 2016 in Addis Ababa and as part of the program her works will also be presented in Venice, Italy at the same time.
And just recently, she learned that she is also one of the 12 photographers that will participate in World Press Photo Master Class East Africa that will be held at the end of November in Kenya.
Maheder believes photography is becoming a more accessible medium with a growing audience thanks to platforms like Instagram. She has been posting her images on Instagram for some time now and she created @everydayethiopia, an account dedicated to showing the ordinary daily life of Ethiopians and she also contributes for @everydayhornofafrica.
She finds inspirations in the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastiao Salgado. Maheder is currently working on various projects involving both documentary and contemporary photography works. In addition to photography, she also loves travelling, writing and documentary filming.
You can follow Maheder on Instagram here, and see more of her work on her website.
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