Photographers of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Here is a list and tribute to many great photographers who came to or from the Democratic Republic of Congo and made it part of their lives and work.

Alice Seeley Harris (1870-1970) (Photojournalism)

“Lady Alice Harris (born Seeley; 24 May 1870 – 24 November 1970) was an English missionary and an early documentary photographer.

Her photography helped to expose the human rights abuses in the Congo Free State under the regime of King Leopold II of the Belgians.

A short documentary on Alice Seeley Harris by American students in 2015. Recommended watching.

Alice Seeley was born in Malmesbury to Aldred and Caroline Seeley. Her sister, Caroline Alfreda Seeley, was a school teacher.

In 1894, she met her future husband John Harris. Finally in 1897, after seven years of trying, Alice was accepted to go out to the Congo Free State. Shortly afterwards, Alice and John got married on 6 May 1898 at a registry office in London.

They had four children: Alfred John, Margaret Theodora, Katherine Emmerline (known as “Bay”) and Noel Lawrence. Alice spent many years in Frome in Somerset and died at the age of 100 in 1970 at Lockner Holt in Guildford, Surrey.” Wikipedia


In 1889, aged 19, Alice entered the Civil Service and was later appointed to the Accountant General’s office in General Post Office, London. Alice gave her spare time to Frederick Brotherton Meyer’s mission work at Regent’s Park Chapel and later Christ Church, Lambeth.

Alice left the Civil Service to enter Doric Lodge, the training college of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. Four days later, as her honeymoon, Alice sailed with John on the SS Cameroon to the Congo Free State as missionaries with the Congo-Balolo Mission. They arrived in the Congo three months later, on 4 August 1898, and then travelled to the Mission Station Ikau near Basankusu. She was appalled and saddened at what she witnessed there and began campaigning for the human rights of the Congolese natives to be recognised.


Alice was stationed with her husband John from 1898 to 1901 at the Mission Station at Ikau, near the Lulonga River, which is a tributary of the River Congo in the Balolo Tribal region.

Nsala of Wala in Congo looks at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter. Alice Seeley Harris / John Hobbis Harris – E. D. Morel, King Leopold’s Rule in Africa, William Heinemann, London, 1904 and Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York, 1905.

Later, from 1901 to 1905, they were stationed at the Mission Station at Baringa, a village in Tshuapa District, Befale Territory, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It stands on the banks of the Maringa River, approximately 100 km upriver from Basankusu.

During her time in the Congo, Alice taught English to the local children, but her most important contribution was to photograph the injuries that were sustained by the Congolese natives at the hands of the agents and soldiers of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold was partly exploiting the local population so fiercely to profit from increased rubber demand after the invention of the pneumatic or inflatable tyre by John Boyd Dunlop in Belfast in 1887. Methods of coercion included whipping, hostage-taking, rape, murder and burning of gardens and villages.

The most famous and shocking atrocity, whose aftermath Harris captured in her photography, was the severing of hands. In 1904, two men arrived at their mission from a village attacked by ‘sentries’ of the Abir Congo Company (ABIR) after failing to provide sufficient rubber. One of the men, Nsala, was holding a small bundle of leaves which when opened revealed the severed hand and foot of a child. Sentries had killed and mutilated Nsala’s wife and daughter. Appalled, Alice persuaded Nsala to pose with his child’s remains on the veranda of her home for a picture.

Initially, Alice’s photographs were used in Regions Beyond, the magazine of the Congo Balolo Mission. In 1902, the Harrises returned to Britain temporarily. In 1904, Alice’s photographs reached wider distribution including Congo Slavery, a pamphlet prepared by Mrs. H. Grattan-Guinness, wife of the editor of Regions Beyond, and in King Leopold’s rule in Africa by E. D. Morel. The same year saw the founding of the Congo Reform Association by Morel.

In 1906, Alice and John Harris began working for Morel’s Congo Reform Association. In early 1906, they Alice toured the United States. John wrote that they had presented her images at 200 meetings in 49 cities via magic lantern screenings. In December 1906, the daily paper New York American used Harris’s photographs to illustrate articles on atrocities in the Congo for an entire week.

In 1908, the couple became joint organizing secretaries of the Congo Reform Association and, in April 1910, they became joint organizing secretaries of the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines’ Protection Society. She soon relinquished her official position, but assisted John at the Society until his death in 1940. She continued her active speaking career and was listed with Christy’s Lecture Service alongside Winston Churchill and Ernest Shackleton.

In November 1908, Leopold II ceded administration of the Congo Free State to the Belgian government, thus creating the Belgian Congo. The Harrises returned to the Congo from 1911–12, following the handover of the Congo to Belgium. They noted improved conditions in the treatment of natives and later produced a book, Present Conditions in the Congo, illustrated with Alice’s photographs. Soon thereafter, hundreds of Alice’s African documentary photographs were displayed at an exhibition at the Colonial Institution.

In 1933, she became Lady Harris when her husband was knighted, but was known for saying, “don’t call me Lady!”.

In 1970, Alice reached 100 years old and was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 on a programme called Women of Our Time.

She was the first centenarian to be a member of the Frome Society for Local Study, which has placed a plaque near where she lived in Frome.” Wikipedia

More information :

Jean Depara (1928-1997) (Photojournalism)


Biography 1 :

“Depara begins in 1951 to photograph, the year of his marriage in Matadi. To record the event, he buys a small Adox camera. Back in Kinshasa in 1951, Depara attempts to reconcile photography and various odd jobs (repairer of bicycles, cameras, scrap …). Then in 1953 he set up his studio “Jean Whisky Depara” in Kato on No. 54.

Inter-ethnic metropolis since the years 1920-30, Leopoldville, as Brazzaville on the other side, is a bustling capital where you heard day and night Polka, Maringa, Tango, and of course Rumba. The music brings together the entire population of the city, Ghanaian, Senegalese, Congolese, coastmen, African, European… Music is the cultural link around which the populations of the city have joined forces, finding both melodies and ancient rhythms, and modern ones created by their idols or imported from Europe and Americas.


Grouped into associations, youths of Leopoldviile (Kinshasa) gather in companies each with a gang leader, a style of dress, their female muses, a place where to meet (usually one of the countless bars, dance halls, the ‘Siluvangi’, ‘Amouzou’, ‘Congo Bar’, ‘Air France’, ‘Quist’, ‘Ok Bar’, ‘Chez Macauley’…) and ear music band (the most important are “OK Jazz” with Franco and the “African Jazz” with Joseph Kabasele), with singers and musicians perfectly trained in church choirs.

The boom of the music was amplified by the many labels installed on site (as ‘Olympia’ created in 1940, ‘Ngoma’ en 1947, ‘Loningisa’, ‘Opika’, ‘Essengo’…). They have facilitated the use of new instruments like electric guitar and sax, the diffusion of tubes (with radio) across Africa and Europe, organizing concerts and remuneration of the authors.

Depara is part of these fun-loving youths, dancing, flirting. By day, while continuing photo studio, he attended in the city Nganda (bars) as ‘Kwist’ held by a West-African, ‘Ok Bar’, on Itaga, ‘Sarma Congo’. He also enjoys photographing bodybuilders (great seducers soon very popular) that he finds the afternoon at the sports complex La Funa, a place of entertainment for all, Blacks and Whites.

At night, alone with his flash camera slung over his shoulder, ‘like a bow’ he said, he toured the fashionable nightclubs : the ‘Afro Mogenbo’, the ‘Champs-Elysées’, the ‘Djambo-Djambu’, the ‘Oui’, the ‘Fifi’, the ‘Show Bot’.

In 1955, the ‘Kongo Bar’ was the most ‘in’ spot on Tshoapa street after Itaga, (now a church) along the ‘Opika’ (intersection Kabambaré-Bokassa) and the ‘Bingabar’ on Moero lake (Barumbu neighbourhood).


Each dancing had its resident orchestra and its regulars boys and girls. The atmosphere was crazy, suitable for all encounters. And the business of photography was easy for Depara. Noticed in 1954 by Franco, the maestro of the Zairean rumba, he became his official photographer (Depara was only 26) and invited him to all his musical evenings (including in Mokalia) until the singer’s death in 1989. The atmosphere is crazy, as selling photography easy.

While keeping up his night work, he tooks photograph the day in his studio until 1956. From 1975 to 1989, in his fifties, he become the official photographer attached to the Parliament.

In 1989 he retires to devote himself to fishing and building pirogues. Depara died in 1997 in Kinshasa at the age of 69 years, leaving more than 5000 pictures of a boosted and carefree time when Kinshasa was the vibrant and crazy heart of all over Africa. Kin-the-joy, Kin-the-madness” as says the novelist Achilles Ngoye.

The photograph of Depara, always perfect framing and knowing transcribe the crazy atmosphere of the youth of Kin, not bother with any prejudice about actors of its nights, nor of taboo, or surprising love for a night, there a beautiful provocative neckline, or even after the escapade of a band in search of adventure. Because Depara is not only a photographer but also a young man who lives moments of his photo. And we relive those moments. The great Depara photographs the great Kinshasa in years 1951-75.” Revue Noire

Biography 2

Lemvo Jean Abou Bakar Depara, known as Depara (1928–1997), was an Angolan-born photographer who worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Depara purchased his first video camera to record his wedding in 1950; four years later, he was made official photographer to the Zairian singer Franco. In 1975 he became official photographer to the National Assembly of Democratic Republic of Congo. He also took many photographs of the social scene of Kinshasa during the period. At his death in 1997 he left a large archive of untitled negatives; many of these have been reprinted and titled for sale since his death.

Some of Depara’s work is in the collection of Jean Pigozzi.” Wikipedia

Biography 3

Jean Depara, Revue Noire

“Born in 1928, Kboklolo, Angola. Died in 1997, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he lived and worked.

Depara came to photography almost by accident. To record his wedding in 1950 he bought himself a small Adox camera after which he never ceased to seek out new subjects for his lens. Settling in Kinshasa in 1951, Depara first combined his photography with various small jobs: repairing bicycles and cameras, dealing in scrap metal. In 1954 the celebrated Zairian singer Franco invited him to become his official photographer, launching Depara’s career as a chronicler of Kinshasa social life in the era when the Rumba and the Cha Cha defined the city’s rhythm.  He set up a studio under the name Jean Whisky Depara and spent his days in bars like the Kwist, the OK Bar, or the Sarma Congo. At night he hung out at such clubs as the Afro Mogenbo, the Champs-Elysées, the DjamboDjambu, the Oui, the Fifi, the Show Boat.  Night owls particularly fascinated him and with his flash Depara captured an Africa stripped of conventional social codes.  Interracial couples, hipsters, and those who in imitation of James Dean chose to “Live fast, die young” became both his subjects and his clients.

Gallery 51, Jean Depara, Link

Among Depara’s themes in his photographs are the Miziki who have such a powerful role in Kinshasa society. 

These associations of women were rooted in pre-independence traditions, and a Moziki (singular form of Miziki) could act as a banker within her social circle.  In the 1950s and 1960s, Miziki associations took such names as La Pause and La Mode, and commissioned famous bands to compose songs for their annual events.

Depara died leaving his archive of hundreds negatives untitled; with the permission of the artist’s family, his close friend Oscar Mbemba has titled the works in the spirit of this era. “

Source : Magnin-A (retrieved 2023)

More information:

Herzekiah Andrew Shanu (1858-1905) (Photojournalism)

Herzekiah Andrew Shanu (died 1905): photograph of the nine ancient kings of Boma (1898). (Royal Museum of Central Africa)


“Herzekiah Andrew Shanu (1858 – July 1905) was an African photographer notably recognized for his involvement in the campaign against inhumane abuses in the Congo Free State.

Early years
He was a Yoruba man, originally from Lagos in what is now Nigeria. He initially became a school teacher. He was educated at the Church Missionary Society Grammar School, and later in the Training Institute for Teachers, at the end of which he graduated as a teacher.

For a few years, he taught at a Lagos Primary School.

However, in 1884, he entered the colonial service of the Congo Free State as a clerk, rising to the rank of district sub-commissioner and a French-English translator in the office of the governor-general in Boma.

Establishing himself at Boma, then the capital, he opened a general store and photographic studio. In 1894, he traveled to Antwerp to attend the Exposition Internationale d’Anvers. Some of his photographs were published in Le Congo illustré. In 1900 he demonstrated his loyalty to the Congo Free State by supporting the authorities during a mutiny by the Force Publique.

In 1903 Shanu supplied Roger Casement with information concerning the abuse of West African workers in the Congo, who in turn referred him to E. D. Morel. Morel and Shanu exchanged messages for several years; Shanu forwarding, among other things, trial transcripts of trials against low-ranking Congo Free State officials which proved to be very revealing.

While trying to acquire information from the police chief of Boma, Shanu was found out and as a consequence beleaguered by state officials. After it was discovered that Shanu had provided the Congo Reform Association with evidence of atrocities in Congo, government employees were ordered to boycott his businesses.

He suffered bankruptcy and committed suicide in July 1905.”

More information:

Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) (Photojournalism)

London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company –

Sir Henry Morton Stanley GCB (born John Rowlands; 28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904) was a Welsh-American explorer, journalist, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of Central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone, whom he later claimed to have greeted with the now-famous line: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”.

Besides his discovery of Livingstone, he is mainly known for his search for the sources of the Nile and Congo rivers, the work he undertook as an agent of King Leopold II of the Belgians which enabled the occupation of the Congo Basin region, and his command of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. He was knighted in 1897, and served in Parliament as a Liberal Unionist member for Lambeth North from 1895 to 1900.

More than a century after his death, Stanley’s legacy remains the subject of enduring controversy. Although he personally had high regard for many of the native African people who accompanied him on his expeditions, the exaggerated accounts of corporal punishment and brutality in his books fostered a public reputation as a hard-driving, cruel leader,  in contrast to the supposedly more humanitarian Livingstone.  His contemporary image in Britain also suffered from the inaccurate perception that he was American. In the 20th century, his reputation was also seriously damaged by his role in establishing the Congo Free State for King Leopold II.  Nevertheless, he is recognized for his important contributions to Western knowledge of the geography of Central Africa and for his resolute opposition to the slave trade in East Africa.”

Royal African Museum

“Bridge over Lufu River. Cataract Region.” [Stanley’s handwriting].
This photograph is part of an Album kept in the Henry M. Stanley Archives (King Baudouin Foundation Collection held in trust at the RMCA).
“Dualla. My interpreter & factotum. He brought the boat from the edge of the Gd Cataract”. [Stanley’s handwriting]
This photograph is part of an Album kept in the Henry M. Stanley Archives (King Baudouin Foundation Collection held in trust at the RMCA).

Casimir Zagourski (1888-1944) (Photojournalism)

Casimir Zagourski (1883-1944) Coiffe Mangbetu, Congo Belge, Provinces de l’Est. Source: ©

“Casimir Ostoja Zagourski (in Polish Kazimierz Zagórski; 9 August 1883 – 10 January 1944) was a Polish pioneering photographer of Central African peoples and customs.

Kazimierz Zagórski, 1936 r. Zespół: Koncern Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny – ©Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe

Zagourski was born in Zhytomyr in 1883. He was a Pole, from the noble Clan of Ostoja.[1] He served in the Imperial Russian Air Force until 1917, rising to the rank of colonel, and in the Polish military during 1920.

Orchestre d’un chef Mangbetu (1937) ©Zagourski

He emigrated from Europe in 1924 and settled in Léopoldville (Belgian Congo), gallicizing his name and opening a photographic studio. Between 1924 and his death he travelled widely in Central Africa, undertaking expeditions to photograph “disappearing” native African traditions in 1929, 1932, 1935 and 1937.[2]

His albums and a postcard series collectively entitled L’Afrique qui disparaît! gained him considerable renown.

He died in Léopoldville in 1944.” Wikipedia

“In the years between the two world wars, no photographer in central Africa visually articulated popular ideas about the peoples in this region more eloquently than Casimir Zagourski (1883-1944). His oeuvre consists of hundreds of black-and-white prints, exquisite in technical and aesthetic execution. 

Zagourski was born Kazimierz Zagórski in what is today Ukraine to the family of a Polish nobleman. (In 1883 Poland was under Russian occupation, and the family had moved to Russia.) Zagourski served in the czarist air force, and following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 he returned to a now-independent Poland, but he found it difficult to make a living. In 1924 he settled in Léopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, and opened a photographic studio. Zagourski became an accomplished photographer specializing in portraiture. He soon received commissions from the colonial government to cover official events, and he photographed colonial buildings and establishments.

His great passion, however, was to document the peoples of central Africa. Like his contemporaries, he believed that central African cultures were on the verge of extinction and that photography could preserve those aspects that were bound to disappear. Between 1929 and 1937, he set out on several expeditions to French Equatorial Africa (A.E.F.), Rwanda, Kenya and Tanganyika. With superb technique and great sensitivity he created portraits of Africans that–although taken in the tradition of anthropological photography–evoke a sense of closeness and empathy. He documented African dress and adornment, scarifications, coiffures, dances, masquerades and architecture. Accomplished images of landscapes give a sense of the sheer beauty of central and eastern Africa.


Zagourski selected 415 of these pictures and published them as numbered series of photographic prints on postcard stock in a portfolio he titled L’Afrique qui disparaît! (Vanishing Africa!). Deluxe editions of the portfolio, bound in embossed leather and carrying his imprint, can be found in several European collections. He also created exhibition prints, among them a set for display in the Belgian pavilion during the 1937 Colonial Exhibition in Paris. L’Afrique qui disparaît! is a masterpiece, articulating the vision of this gifted photographer and his views about Africans, which he shared with his contemporaries. Casimir Zagourski, who died in Léopoldville in 1944, left a lasting legacy of photographs that shaped the public’s image of central Africa for many years to come.” Smithsonian: The Image World of Casimir Zagourski

Antoine Freitas (1919-1990) (Photojournalism)

“Antoine Freitas, born in 1919 in Angola and died in 1990 in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), is a Congolese photographer, one of the pioneers of photography in Africa.

Trained by a missionary in Angola, he settled in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) in 1932, then traveled the country as a traveling photographer from 1935. Antoine Freitas was present during major major events such as the Zairean revolution in Mbutu and Mohamed Ali’s boxing match in Kinshasa.” Wikipedia

Antoine Freitas photographing a group of five women. Kasaï, Belgian Congo (DR Congo), 1936, reproduction, 2022, Revue Noire, Blind Magazine and Rietberg Museum

Carlo Lamote (1928-Alive?) (Belgian colony propaganda)

“Carlo Lamote, born in 1928, left for the Belgian Congo in January 1950 as a photographer-filmmaker at Inforcongo, the Information Service of the General Government. On June 30, 1960, he became Advisor to Anicet Kashamura, Minister of Information and Cultural Affairs. In October 1961, he was put in charge of setting up Congolese Television by the Minister of Information and Cultural Affairs, Joseph Iléo. In 1964, he left the Belgian Technical Assistance to found the film production and distribution company Inter African Films and the African Newsfilm Agency. In 1965, he became President of the International Press Association in the Congo and, in 1966, founded Congovox, whose main partner was the Congolese government and of which he became the Managing Director. In 1980, he founded his own real estate company in Congo and, in 2005, the AideGoma association of which he is the Secretary General.” Source

Photographer: Lamote, Carlo.
Title: untitled (Type Lalia).
Date: between 1950 and 1957.
©Congopresse 21.231/13.

“Though no biographical information on Carlo Lamote has yet come to light, he was clearly a Belgian photographer working for Congopresse, the main agency for photojournalism in the Belgian Congo from its inception in 1947 until independence in 1960. Lamote’s image likely dates from the early 1950s.” Elliot Fine Art

Article : Carlo Lamote and Cédric Gerbehaye 50 years of photographing in Congo, (25/05/2010)

“Carlo Lamote started in 1950 as a photographer in the service of the Belgian Congo. After independence, he founded the Congolese state television news service.

Photographer Cédric Gerbehaye was far from then born, his Congo passion only flared up three years ago.

We brought both generations together around a table with lots of pictures. “Photographers are the archivists of their era.”

Carlo Lamote and Cédric Gerbehaye are almost fifty years apart. So two generations. But also: the age of the country that brought them together, four high in the tower block in Ostend where Carlo Lamote (82) lives with his wife Gigi. The meeting was orchestrated by us, call it a gamble.


Photographer and cameraman Carlo Lamote left for Congo in 1950 to work for the colonial information service. For ten years he traveled to all corners of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to highlight the colonial achievements.

Propaganda is something like that, which does not detract from the fact that he turned out to be an excellent photographer within those boundaries.

Together with his colleague Henri Goldstein, Lamote has shaped our image of the Belgian Congo. Open any book about the 1950s in the colony, and you’ll find their names below the photos.

Danseuse Ekonda, 1957, ©Carlo Lamote, Source

After independence, he founded his own film production company and news agency, with Visnew, ABC and CBS as regular customers. He was one of the founders of Congovox, the news service of the Congolese state broadcaster, which was also not averse to propaganda. “I was director,” he says. “Once I was summoned to President Mobutu. He had stepped on his toe because we had shortened his speech. That couldn’t happen again. When the chief spoke, the people had to be able to hear every word. (…)

Own plane
Carlo Lamote has a proven method for breaking the ice. He takes out his photo and scrapbook, a colossus of 12 kilos. It starts with childhood snapshots and ends with a disturbing number of obituaries of acquaintances from Congo. His career and life course lie between the two extremes.

Photos, of course, but also certificates of prizes he received, and articles he wrote for De Week, the only Flemish magazine in Congo that was founded by his brother Jos Lamote.

Cédric leafs through the book, Carlo comments. “Working at Inforcongo was a luxury,” he says. “We had a DC3 from the Force Publique available, which we flew to the most remote airstrips in the bush. A car was ready on site, because the roads were still passable at that time. We stayed in a hotel or a gîte, all at the expense of the state.

Of course we knew what was expected of us: we were paid to clean up the colony’s image. Is that propaganda? Maybe, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with it. The image we put up was realistic.”


It’s not just that the infrastructure is completely in tatters. The more I am in Congo, the more I am amazed at the corruption.

It is everywhere, in the highest echelons in Kinshasa, but also in the smallest village along the river.”

The browsing continues. Grimer images emerge between the cheerful holiday snaps and grandiose tableaux of people, fauna and flora.

Textile mill producing cotton fabric in Léopoldville, Belgian Congo Carlo Lamote (dates unknown) c. 1955, silver gelatin print Distributed by Inforcongo Eliot Elisofon Photographic © Archives National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution A1993-16-33 Source

Carlo Lamote was there when anti-Belgian riots broke out on 4 January 1959 in Léopoldville. The revolt lasted four days and killed dozens of blacks. “But those photos were never published,” says Carlo, resigned effortlessly to this form of censorship.

“Inforcongo had no interest in it, they did not want to make the concern in Belgium greater than it already was.”

The riots were nevertheless a turning point, as Congo was heading towards independence at breakneck speed.

On June 30, 1960 Carlo was working as a cameraman, his last job for Inforcongo. In one of the photos you can see him standing with his Arriflex 16mm on his shoulder, an extra in the margins of a historical scene in which Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and King Baudouin play the leading roles. “It was a very charged moment,” he says. Lumumba’s speech came as an ice-cold shower.

In this photo you can see how I zoom in on the king. Not coincidentally, because like everyone else I thought he would get up and walk away angrily. They stopped him, otherwise he would have done it.”

Congolese women in Leopoldville stand in line for contributing to the Caisse d’Epargne du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi, the national savings bank founded in 1950.
(Photo by C. Lamote / Congopresse, 1950s).

Belgium complex
Fifty years later, is there something to celebrate on June 30? And if so, does King Albert have to go to the party in Congo? “There is nothing to celebrate,” says Carlo.

“Everything is broken over there. I have seen Carl De Keyzer’s Congo book. I’ve been to all those places myself, you should put my photos next to his. The decay hurts the eye.


Can photos change the world? Carlo doesn’t believe in it. We are inundated with images of war and misery, he muses, people shrug their shoulders at it. Cédric sounds less resigned. “Of course I cannot change the reality in Congo. Photos do not have that power, as far as I know, it has only happened twice that photographers have influenced the course of a war. I think of Vietnam and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, although the photos there were taken by American prison guards. So I have no illusions, but I do have ambition: I want to break through the general indifference to the suffering in Congo. If people start to think and feel involved after seeing my images, then I have succeeded.”

War criminal Nkunda
The war photos awakened Carlo’s memories. He was the first correspondent when the Belgian paratroopers drove the Simba insurgents from Stanleyville in 1964, the massacre of black and white is very clear to him. Not a war, but just as gruesome was the mock trial with which Mobutu eliminated four prominent politicians in 1966. Les pendus de la Pentecôte, that’s the name of that inky black page in Congolese history. According to Carlo, it is his best report ever, while he was not able to shoot a single image. “All journalists had to hand over their cameras, both at the trial and at the public execution.

A colleague from AFP had smuggled a pocket camera along. I made a tear in my newspaper so that he could secretly photograph the execution. Unfortunately, that image failed. I saw four people die by hanging that day. I knew one of them, former Prime Minister Evariste Kimba, very well. I was blown away by that for a long time.”

Has he also worked in dangerous conditions? Cédric ignores Carlo’s question. He is often labeled a war photographer, but he resolutely refuses. Concerned photography is the English term he prefers. (…)

The farewell is cordial. Carlo does not dare to promise that he will come to the vernissage in the Brussels Botanique. Health, you know. But he definitely wants the book. “Tough work,” he says. “It is heavy, you go very deep. I don’t really see any comparison with my work, neither in style nor in terms of themes. But yes, two generations difference. Photography has changed, and Congo has changed.’ Cédric puts his arm on the elderly man’s shoulder. “And yet there is a common ground,” says the young Brussels resident. “Despite the difference in style and approach, we do the same. Photographers are the archivists of the era in which they live, each in their own way.”

BY ERIK RASPOET / photo filip naudts

Source : (Translated from Dutch using Google Translate)

2nd page. Source : Heart4Darkness
Portrait of a Tutsi with Amasunzu hairstyle. 1930s (Rwanda). ©Lamote

More information :

Joseph Makula (1929-2006) (Belgian colony propaganda)

A Congolese family in Léopoldville, Belgian Congo, 1958, ©Smithsonian

Joseph Makula (1929–2006) was a Congolese photographer. He initially served as a military photographer for the Force Publique before being hired as the first Congolese photographer for Congopresse in 1956. After Congopresse closed in 1968, he worked as a freelancer and established his own studio. He died in 2006

Joseph Makula was born in 1929 in Orientale Province, Belgian Congo. He attended a nursing school in Stanleyville, but enlisted in the Force Publique in Port-Francqui in 1948. The following year he was stationed in Léopoldville, and the editor of the army’s newspaper, Sango Ya Biso, tapped him as a photographer for the publication. He was later made a supervisor of a military photographic lab tasked with developing film. He left the army in 1956 and briefly found work at a newspaper, Pourquoi pas l’Avenir.

A Congolese saleswoman and customer in a shop in Kinshasa (ca. 1957), Joseph Makula, Source : ©Africa Museum

Later in 1956 or 1957 Makula was hired by Congopresse, the Belgian Congo’s official press agency, as its first Congolese photographer. He mainly photographed “évolués”, educated Congolese who formed an elite social group in the colony. He worked mostly in and around the capital, Léopoldville, taking few photographs in the outlying provinces and never taking pictures of villages. Unlike his European colleagues, Makula took few photographs of official ceremonies or visiting foreign dignitaries.

Following Congolese independence in 1960, Congopresse’s European staff departed, and Makula went to Belgium for a training course in photography. When he returned to the Congo, he trained a new group of Congolese photographers for the agency, including its only woman photographer, Mpate Sulia. In 1968, Congopresse closed down and Mukula became a freelance photographer. He set up his own photo studio, Photo Mak, in Lemba, Kinshasa, in 1981. It operated until 1991. He died in 2006.”

Source : Wikipedia

J Mulders (Belgian colony propaganda) (1950s)

Inauguration of the King Baudouin Stadium, 1952.
(Photo by J. Mulders / Congpresse, 1 July 1952). ©Liberas Expo

Worked with Carlo Lamote in the 1950s at Congopresse.

H Goldstein (Belgian colony propaganda) (1950s)

©Liberas Expo

Worked with Carlo Lamote in the 1950s at Congopresse.

Neil Leifer (Sports photography) (1970s)

This dazzling tribute to Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 boxing match in Kinshasa, Zaire, brings together the best of Norman Mailer’s classic commentary The Fight with color and black-and-white photographs from the two men who captured Ali like no one else: ©Neil Leifer and Howard L. Bingham. Link
Aerial view of George Foreman on his back as referee Zach Clayton makes his count during the round eight knockdown by Muhammad Ali at the WBC/ WBA World Heavyweight Title fight at Stade du 20 Mai. The Rumble in the Jungle fight. Kinshasa, Zaire. ©Neil Leifer. October 30, 1974. Link
Larry King, president Mobutu, Muhammad Ali in 1974. ©Neil Leifer.
Muhammad Ali looking at the Congo river in 1974. ©Neil Leifer

Richard Mosse (1980-) (Art)

Richard Mosse (born 1980) is an Irish conceptual documentary photographer.

Critic Sean O’Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said “His images from there often seem to skirt the real and the fictional, simply though their heightened and unreal colours. He has made the familiar seem strange and the real seem heightened to the point of absurdity. This is war reportage – but not as we know it.” Willy Staley, writing in the New York Times Magazine, said “Mosse highlights the eastern Congo’s natural bounty while acknowledging both the medium’s origins and, he points out, the West’s tendency to see in the Congo only darkness and insanity.”

Source : Wikipedia

Book : Infra on Amazon

I Shall Be Released (2015) © Photographs Courtesy Richard Mosse, Jack Shainman Gallery

Pieter Henket (1972-) (Art)

My Love, 2017, ©Pieter Henket

“Pieter Henket (born January 21, 1979) is a Dutch photographer living and working in New York City. His notable work includes shooting the cover of Lady Gaga’s debut album The Fame, and photographing National Congolese acting out their mythologies in the Congo rainforest for the book Congo Tales published by Prestel Publishing in 2018. He is known for a photographic style that takes inspiration from the 17th century Dutch Golden Age of painting.” Wikipedia

“Born into a family of artists, Henket’s early fascination with film and photography was bolstered when he moved to New York City in 1998 to enroll in a three-month documentary filmmaking course at New York University. Soon thereafter he began interning for the director Joel Schumacher, where Henket learned staging and production. Time spent experimenting in the studio and doing portraits of friends and strangers in equal measure resulted in editorial work for magazines such as Esquire.

His photograph of Lady Gaga was used for the album cover of “The Fame” (2008), which sold over 15 million copies worldwide. The photograph was included in the exhibition American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2010. In 2012 he photographed the Carnaval de Rio, a Brazilian carnival taking place every year in San Luis, a city in the mountains of Argentina. The work, Stars to the Sun, resulted in a book and several exhibitions, which led to a relationship with the environmental activist group Tales of Us. 

Henket is the author of The Way I See It (Uitgeverij de Kunst, Uitgeverij Waanders, 2013); Stars to the Sun (Lannoo Publishers, 2014); and Congo Tales (Prestel, 2018). Henket’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at institutions such as the Museum de Fundatie in The Netherlands, and the Museum Barberini in Germany. His work is held in the collection of the Rijksmuseum.” Howard Greenberg



Kiripi Katembo (1979-2015) (Art)

Born in 1979, Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Died in 2015 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he lived and worked.

“Kiripi Katembo, also known as Kiripi Katembo Siku, (June 20, 1979 – August 5, 2015) was a Congolese photographer, documentary filmmaker and painter. Katembo’s short films, photography and other projects focused on the daily lives of the people of Kinshasa, as well as the economic and social challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was also a founding director of Mutotu Productions, his film production company, and the executive director of Yango Biennale, based in Kinshasa.” Wikipedia

Avancer, 2008 / 2013. Series: Un Regard. Kiripi Katembo.

Kris Pannecoucke (1969-) (Art)

“A freelance photographer and videographer for over twenty years, Kris Pannecoucke was born in 1969 in Kinshasa and spent the first years of his life in the DRC.

The artist has traveled the country for personal projects, magazines and businesses. During a scientific expedition in 2010, he took his first pictures of the Congo River. This trip marks the starting point of his interest in this majestic waterway. Kris traveled through it for years and collected his most beautiful photos in the book “Fleuve Congo River”, published in 2017, with the support of TMB.

The portraits of the Kinshasa performers, visible in this exhibition, have been published in several international press references, including The Guardian and Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin.” Le Monde des Flamboyants

Kinshasa street artists

“Kris is a documentary photographer / filmmaker born in Congo where he has mainly worked for the last decade.

With Picha Publishing, a photo book publishing house, he published his first photo book ‘Fleuve Congo River’ (Sold out) in 2017.
The river was the ideal route to take to portray today’s Congo.

Book : Fleuve Congo River.

He recently produced ‘Nyama’, a commissioned book about bushmeat, livestock and food security in the DRC.

Kris broadcasted earlier 2021 his first film documentary on ‘financial inclusion in Congo’ on French German television channel ARTE.

His photography work appears around the globe in magazines and papers like The Guardian, National Geographic, GEO, Internazionale, l’OBS, De Volkskrant or The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.” Kris Pannecoucke website

Kris’s Instagram

Finbarr O’Reilly (1971-) (Photojournalism)

“He joined Reuters as a freelance correspondent based in Kinshasa, Congo in 2001. In 2003 he co-produced The Ghosts of Lomako, a documentary about conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the same year he co-directed the documentary, The Digital Divide about technology in the developing world.” Wikipedia

Copyright Finbarr O’Reilly. All rights reserved.

“I’ve spent the last 20 years as an award-winning visual journalist and author working in conflict zones and complex humanitarian emergencies. With extensive experience managing complicated operations and logistics, especially in challenging environments, I have a track record of delivering industry-leading coverage as well as building and managing diverse, effective, and innovative teams able to thrive in an ever-evolving media landscape. 

My focus in recent years has been on leading collaborative multi-platform projects that develop and promote a more representative range of voices and perspectives in the photojournalism industry while translating strategic and editorial objectives into engaging and compelling narratives that influence global audiences.

I am committed to educational, mentoring, and personal development initiatives aimed a meaningful diversification of the media landscape and the promotion of social justice.”

More information :

Pamela Tulizo (1994-) (Photojournalism/Art)

Pamela Tulizo studied journalism and has always had an interest in photography. In 2015, she began her research in the techniques and basics of photography thanks to her friends who were already photographers in her town of Goma, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Finbarr O’Rilley, a Canadian and well known photographer of the DRC, started a project called Congo In Conversation by the Carmignac Foundation that promoted Congolese photographers in 2019. Pamela is one of them.



Double identité
Double identité

Pamela Tulizo’s research is focused primarily on the image of women. Photography is one of the communication channels she uses to enter into dialogue with her community and the world. In her imaginary world, Pamela imagines herself and is embodied in the characters that we find in her different photos in order to present or tell another side of the woman with a kind of courage, energy, determination, commitment, by force.

Guerchom Ndebo (Photojournalism)

Villagers provide a charcoal oven with fuel to make charcoal on a piece of deforested land on the edge of Virunga Park, just north of the eastern Congon city of Goma. Photographed with a Canon EOS M50 and a Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, set to 21mm, 1/1600 sec, f/4 and ISO400. © Guerchom Ndebo for the Carmignac Foundation

Guerchom was part of the Congo In Conversation project by the Carmignac Foundationone.

Links :

Arlette Bashizi (Photojournalism)

Photographer : Arlette Bashizi Website

Arlette was part of the Congo In Conversation project by the Carmignac Foundation.


Ley Uwera (Photojournalism)

Goma, DRC, May 2020. Vulnerable children gather for a shared meal at a muslim community centre in Goma during
Ramadan last week. © Ley Uwera for Fondation Carmignac

Ley was also part of the Congo In Conversation project by the Carmignac Foundation.

More links :

Gosette Lubondo (Art) (2020s)

Galerie Anglia

Born in 1993 in Kinshasa, where she lives and works.

Photography is very much a family affair for Gosette Diakota Lubondo.

It all began with her father’s uncle, Etienne Nkazi, who was born in 1894 in Bas-Congo. It is unclear how and why he became a photographer, but according to the family’s collective memory, he started work in 1914. Evidently, he was one of the very first Congolese photographers. It turns out that one of Nkazi’s brothers was a very close disciple of the religious leader Simon Kimbangu. So close, in fact, that he was chained up after his arrest in 1921, and then banished into internal exile in Maniema. Etienne Nkazi remained close to Kimbanguist circles. Late in life, when visiting his brother in exile, Etienne Nkazi settled in Kasongo in Maniema, where he died in 1964, with his photographic archive disappearing along with him.

She discovered photography fortuitously at the age of 14 at a small family gathering. In a surprise move, the organizer declared that the gathering was solely for women and everyone accepted this innovative idea, whether they liked it or not. The all-female gathering meant that the usual family party photographer was not there, so a female replacement was needed. Gosette was entrusted with the camera. And what a revelation! Her snapshots proved popular, but most importantly she discovered an unexpected interest in photography. From that moment on, she worked to perfect her skills by working with her father.

In 2013, she took part in an important internship with the collective of Kinshasa artists called Les Eza possibles, and then in a workshop run by the photographer Alexandre Christiaens. She produced her first solo work in the same year. The theme was the imprint left behind by Kinshasa’s dilapidated transport infrastructure. This was her first thematic series and was called Au fil du temps.

Gosette graduated in Visual Communication in 2014. She also showed her work for the first time in a collective exhibition, Lady by Lady, at Kinshasa’s Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles. The exhibition was organised by KinArt Studio. In 2015, she took part in the exchanges facilitated by Simon Njami at the 10th Bamako Encounters, the African Photography Biennale. She then joined a photography masterclass promoted by the Goethe Institute and facilitated by Simon Njami once again.

In 2018, Gosette produced the Imaginary Trip II series, for which she received the support of the Quai Branly- Jacques Chirac Museum. (…)

There is even a mystical dimension, albeit discrete, to the second series. In both cases, there is no over- expression or excess, the artist shows that she is serious, respectful of the locations, and humble. (…)

The scenes sometimes appear timeless in both of the Imaginary Trip projects.


Written by : Pierre Daubert, Biographical introduction to the Gosette Lubondo catalogue, Editions de l’œil, 2020″

Source : Galerie Anglia Gosette Lubondo full biography (pdf)

Leonard Pongo (2020s) (Art)

“Pongo is a photographer and visual artist. His long-term project “The Uncanny” has earned him several international awards and world-wide recognition. He currently works on “Primordial Earth“.

Pongo’s work has been published worldwide and featured in numerous exhibitions including the recent IncarNations at the Bozar Center for Fine Arts curated by Kendell Geers & Sindika Dokolo and the The 3rd Beijing Photo Biennial at CAFA Art Museum. He was chosen as one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2016, is a recipient of the Visura Grant 2017, the Getty Reportage Grant 2018 and participated in the Joop Swart Masterclass 2018.

“Primordial Earth“, his latest project, was shown at the Lubumbashi Biennial and at the Rencontres de Bamako where it was awarded the “Prix de l’OIF”. It was exhibited at the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts for his first institutional solo show in Belgium in 2021 and is currently on show at the Oostende Museum of Modern Art until November 2022.

Pongo’s career is shared between long term projects in Congo DR, teaching and assignment work. Pongo is also a member of The Photographic Collective. His work is part of institutional and private collections.” Website

“Inhabiting the Landscape

By exploring the diversity of landscapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, artist Léonard Pongo offers an allegorical imagery of the country. Imbued with a sense of magical beauty and mystical power, the landscape seen through his eyes becomes a setting to rebuild the self, and the earth becomes the source of an awareness from which tradition, philosophy and conceptions of the universe emerge. For Léonard Pongo, exploring the environment, as well as sensory experience, are pathways to an emerging vision of the world – it is by becoming one with the landscape that it becomes possible to engage with life.

Drawing inspiration from Congolese traditions and Kasaian cultures, Primordial Earth: Inhabiting the Landscape presents the landscape as a character with its own will and power, like an open book that tells the story of humanity and the planet, with Congo at its centre.

It is an approach that has a particular resonance today, at a time when the ecosystem is under threat.”

Links :

Vincent Tremeau (2010s) (Photojournalism)

The Breath. Goma in the mist at nightfall, at the foot of the active Nyiragongo and Nyamuragera volcanoes. Copyright Vincent Tremeau.


Alexis Huguet (2020s) (Photojournalism)

Instagram feed

“Alexis is a French photojournalist based in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been living since 2015 in several countries in the Central Africa region, where he works as a photojournalist and correspondent for AFP (Agence France-Presse) and collaborates with many international humanitarian organizations. His photographs have been published in multiple international newspapers: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, etc.” Website


Hugh Kinsella Cunningham (2020s) (Photojournalism)

Inner Light, Surviving the Ituri Conflict. Djugu Territory, Democratic Republic of Congo. Ituri Province has seen over 1.6 million people displaced by rebel attacks alleged as crimes against humanity by the UN human rights office. © Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Hugh Kinsella Cunningham is a photojournalist. Work published with National Geographic, The Guardian, BBC News, The Sunday Times Magazine, The United Nations & Save the Children. Grantee of the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting.Link


Invisible Wounds. North Kivu. The Kivu Ebola epidemic saw an outbreak of the deadly virus in one of Congo’s most neglected regions, traumatised by war. Stained darkroom C-prints. © Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Thomas Nicolon (2020s) (Photojournalism/nature)

Bushmeat trade in the Congo. Thomas Nicolon / Reuters ©2022

“Thomas Nicolon is a multimedia storyteller and a National Geographic explorer. His photo work focuses on wildlife conservation, and has been published in National Geographic, Le Monde, Mongabay, Reuters and many more outlets.
Thomas lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 5 years, where he worked as a correspondent for news channel France 24, as well as a videographer for WWF, UNHCR and others. In 2019, he created Lily Productions, a company dedicated to delivering high quality films and photographs to news channels and organizations anywhere in the world. Thomas is available for assignments.” Website


John Wessels (1987-) (Photojournalism)

John Wessels is sharing ‘A Fight for Democracy’, documenting 2018 general elections in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and ‘Fighting Ebola and Conflict’, about the major outbreak of the Ebola virus in Beni, in DRC in 2018, on our Instagram account. See the 2019 Photo Contest winning stories:

“John Wessels was born in Johannesburg, South Africa (1987). Studied Survey Engineering and later did the Photojournalism and documentary Photography Course at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa. Started his professional career in Mozambique 2014, from there has focused on  work centred around social and humanitarian issues. Currently based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a stringer for Agency France Presse (AFP) as well as freelancing for the likes of UNHCR, ALIMA, Jeune Afrique and Le Monde.” Website

He is currently based in Senegal.

Fighting Ebola and Conflict. John Wessels (Link)


Brent Stirton (2020s) (Photojournalism)

“Brent Stirton is a Senior Photographer for Getty Images, based in New York. His award-winning work has been widely recognized for its powerful depiction of issues related to conflict, health and environmental issues. Stirton specializes in documentary work and is known for his alternative approaches to photojournalism, including lighting portraiture in the field, and his prolific work rate. He travels an average of nine months of the year, working exclusively on commissioned assignment.” Wikipedia

Rangers and locals carry the body of a mountain gorilla killed in Virunga national park, DRC, in 2007. Photograph: Brent Stirton


Jérémie Elonga (2020s) (Nature/Urban)

Jeremie Bofefu Elonga is a Congolese photographer.

Instagram feed


Colin Delfosse (1981-) (Photojournalism/art)

“Born in 1981, Colin Delfosse grew up in Brussels, Belgium where he is currently based. Graduated in journalism, he turned to documentary photography in 2006, cofounded a photographic collective then worked with different agencies. As a freelance photographer, Delfosse keeps a strong focus on personal long-term projects in Central Africa.

After his first assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) covering the elections in 2006 he keeps going back to DRC frequently, focusing on social and contemporary issues in the region. His work on Kinshasa’s voodoo wrestlers is the starting point of the international recognition of his work.

Several years later, he embraced new perspectives and started working with a large format camera to capture President Mobutu’s legacy.

For the last five years, Delfosse has collaborated with the UNHCR to cover the flow of incoming refugees in Central Africa and West Africa.

His work has been shown in different festivals — Łódź Fotofestival, Prix Bayeux, Lagos Photo Festival, les Rencontres d’Arles, Visa pour l’Image — and published in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, Le Monde, L’Internazionale, Society, The International Herald Tribune and Jeune Afrique.

Since 2015, Colin Delfosse also works as a photo editor for the Belgian investigative magazine Médor that he cofounded.”


Esther Nsapu (2020s) (Photojournalism)

Boulevard Lumumba, Bukavu (Congo), 2023, Instagram account

“Esther N’sapu is a journalist and photographer based in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was motivated to work in this area, given the conflict situation which has persisted in her region for several years now. Before, she covered topical issues on the security situation as a journalist, but she didn’t want to stop there. This is why she also joined photography in order to inform the world through her photographic images. Today, her images are like a catalog for foreign travelers and tourists. Through her travels, discoveries, and achievements, her region is known to the world.

The photographic work of Esther N’sapu is based on the daily life of human beings. She wants to show the outside world that despite the difficulties and the problems, life does not stop. Through these photographic images, she wants to show her region in a new way, not as a land of conflict but rather a land where there is love and hope.”


Congo Positif collective (2020s) (Photography/Nature)

A collective of Instagramers to promote a positive image of both Congos.

There may be many more but these are arguably the most well known in 2023. If I have forgotten important ones, don’t hesitate to send me their name.

Let me know 🙂

Feel free to follow my public account on Instagram with photographs of the DRC and other places – see the post below with links to some of the above photographers.


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