Liberian photographers: Swimming against the tide of new technologies

APA-Monrovia (Liberia)

Since IPhones came to Liberia, residents of the capital Monrovia who depend on photography to earn a living have been experiencing a serious downturn for their enterprises.

This is because most people now use iPhones to take wedding photos and videos, as well as for ID cards or storage in albums.

People using iPhones for these purposes are saving huge sums of money that they paid photographers who also took videos of events. 

The recent development has rendered photographers operating from sidewalks in the capital Monrovia virtually incapable of eking out a living. 

“I used to make up to 5,000 (five thousand) Liberian dollars daily before the invention of the iPhone. Now, we are just here. I hardly make up to 300 dollars per day,” a Photographer on Broad Street in central Monrovia, Isaac Morris, told APA.

“Nowadays, we make money only from ID card photos. What is also affecting us is the fact that photographers in Monrovia have increased more than five-fold due to the high unemployment rate. About five years ago, we had no more than five photographers on Broad Street in central Monrovia, but nowadays, the number of photographers has quadrupled," another street corner photographer Paul Comeh said.

“I am okay, Bro. It’s just the business we are doing. Sometimes I go home without a cent to feed my family,” Peter Samika, a photographer who is just recovering from sickness told APA.

Another photographer witnessed that he is engaged in the sale of plastic bags, chuckles and other commodities to supplement his earning capacity. 

“You have to be innovative to survive is these trying times. You cannot depend on photography these days to earn a living because this profession is virtually dead," he confessed.

In central Monrovia and its suburbs, it's easy to determine the number of internet cafes that are still in operation in the wake of the coming into being of iPhones which are nowadays used to access the internet, whether FaceBook, Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platforms. 

Indeed, the estimated seven internet cafés in central Monrovia, only two are now fully functional.

Many of the cafés which have been transformed into printing documents only use the internet to print documents sent by email. Even the two internet cafés that are operating on Broad Street in central Monrovia are not generating the money they used to make before the invention of
the iPhone.

 “Our earning has dropped significantly. Before now we used to earn a lot of money on a daily basis that enabled some of us to construct houses. But we are now earning less than one fifth of what we used generate from intern café users,” an operator of one of the two internet cafes in central Monrovia, Prince Coleman, told APA.

The operator of the other internet café on Broad Street, Paul Wie told APA that they are still engaged in the business to earn a living. 

“The internet café is no longer the source of income generation that it used to be. We are engaged in this business because one has to be somewhere to earn a living to feed your family.

In the Monrovia suburb of Gardnersville where an internet is located, an operator was sitting alone in a mood hardly describable. 

When asked whether his internet café was active, he said "I later learnt from someone who visits the café regularly that the operators are more engaged in printing documents the user types on one of the desktops; and that he only uses the internet to download and print documents sent on the internet.

The same experience was visible at a once popular internet café at the Stephen Tolbert Housing Estate on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia. 

According to him, he only uses the internet to download documents meant for printing. 

The operator, Samuel Steven, said they are no longer interested in providing internet services not only because of the hike in the price of data, but also because very few customers go to the café to browse the internet.

People access the internet anywhere now using the iPhone. In buses, taxis and private vehicles, passengers are seen checking mails Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, Instagram and others using their iPhones.

Even reporters at the Liberia News Agency and other media outlets in the country write and file their stories on their iPhones.


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