The image of Kenya tends to be one of the maasai warrior dressed in red and adorned with beads, but the reality is much different. More than a quarter of Kenya’s population today live in cities and, while the country has forty two tribes, the majority of people belong to just five. Furthermore in Kenya a staggering 75% of the country is under the age of thirty, making it one of the youngest country’s in the world.
Demographica is an ongoing project that blends photography and demography to create a typology of 100 portraits that does its best to statistically represent the makeup of a country’s population. The categories represented in this project include Kenya’s gender ratio, its population’s age, the urban/rural divide, and its tribal makeup.
The aim of Demographica is to paint a true representation of a country, dispelling the various misconceptions and stereotypes people may have, and revealing the actual diversity of the many different people who make up any one population.
Furthermore, its to visualize the unseeable – issues such as Africa’s impending population boom. To make people realize that the average Kenyan isn’t an adult maasai warrior, but rather a school-aged child who will soon be looking to find a job, move to a city, and start a family of their own. Concerns all of us are going to have to start taking seriously – if we want developing country’s like Kenya to continue growing – and not be crushed by a population already putting pressure on the country’s resources and future prospects.
Demographica statistics sources:
Gender Ratio – National Census
Urban/Rural, Ethnic Groups, Age Structure – CIA World Facebook
The portraits in this series are all composites and each consist of nine photographs stitched together to create one full portrait. The technique, known as the Brenizer method, results in portraits with an extremely shallow depth of field – reminiscent of a large format photograph.
Born in Botswana, in a rural hospital his dad likes to remind him only charged them 17 pula for the privilege, Tobin began his life in the small dusty village of Gumare on the banks of the Okovango Delta. It wasn’t too long though, before his family moved on, this time to the the capital city of Lilongwe in Malawi. It was here Tobin spent the majority of his childhood, riding his bike around town, fighting with his siblings, and generally learning how to be a kid. Finally, when he was 10 his family once again moved up the African continent, this time to Kenya – where Tobin finished up high school.
Having photographed throughout Africa, and sometimes further afield, for the last decade – through his work Tobin has attempted to not only cover the breadth of the continent, but also the diversity within it. This has included stories on Somalia’s fight against Al Shabab and the country’s emergence from more than 20 years of civil war, to transgender issues, and the intersection of modern religion with traditional healing practices in slums.
Tobin Jones’ photography has appeared in multiple publications including The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and many others. He has also worked for multiple international organizations and NGO’s throughout the region, including UNHCR, WFP, the Danish Refugee Council, and the European Union. Past photography awards include the Marty Forscher Fellowship Award, the Echo Foundation Grand Prize Winner, the Pride Photo Competition, and the Visura Storytelling Award.
Tobin holds a bachelor’s degree in International Development, with minors in Economics and Political Science, from McGill University and a Master’s degree in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster. Today he lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where he runs the photo collective NonAligned and works as a freelance photographer and videographer.
Winner, Marty Forscher Fellowship Award 2012
Winner, Echo Foundation Grand Prize Winner 2012
Second Place Visual Storytelling, Pride Photo Competition 2014
Juror’s Choice, Visura Storytelling Awards 2018 (Demographica)