A rising star in photography, Ethiopian photographer Hilina Abebe, 30, captures individuals and communities undergoing social change. She describes being drawn to photography at a young age by her father who used to take pictures of the family. “I think that has somehow contributed to my interest in photography. My dad was a school teacher but he used to take a lot of family photos out of passion,” she says.
Hilina was born and raised in the town of Debre Zeit, close to Addis Ababa. She went to a school called Betelehem for her elementary education and Atekalay for high school. Upon completing high school, she joined Bahir Dar University and she studied journalism for three years. She is currently studying her Masters in social work at Addis Ababa University.
(Curious eyes, Harar May 2016.)
Even though Hilina had tendency for art starting from early age, the moment she decided to take photography seriously was when she started working for a local NGO. “I used to produce a quarterly newsletter and has to take images for the entire publication. This newsletter became somehow the starting point” she says.
Hilina picked up her first DSLR three years ago and she has improved her skills significantly. Her documentary photography series, “The Shoeshine Girl” has been featured on CNN and her other works have been featured in numerous national and international exhibitions, including New York’s Photoville. She was also among the twelve emerging talents selected by the World Press Photo Foundation for the first East Africa Masterclass that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 November to 2 December, 2016. One of her more recent series documents Ethiopian immigrants who live in and around Washington DC.
Hilina says photography is a profession in progress in Ethiopia and she makes it a point to contribute to a better understanding of the profession.“It is one of the challenges we have here as photographers. But I believe through time, people will perceive photography as a storytelling tool. It is especially to create this platform now more than ever as we have the need to tell our own stories,” she says.
Hilina now devotes much of her time to creating long term documentary projects.
You can follow Hilina on Instagram @sincerelyhilina , and see more of her work on her website, hilinaabebe.com.