Exploring Uganda’s villages with the help of the local community - Friends of Friends / Freunde von Freunden (FvF)

Exploring Uganda’s villages with the help of the local community


For photographer Daniel Müller, mnemonic frailty was not the sole impetus for picking up a camera. His first dabblings with the medium were born out of a natural affinity for meeting people and delving into foreign cultures. “My memory often fails me and photography helped me solve this problem,” he explains. “But aside from that, it allows me to engage with people in a very singular way that can’t be compared to anything else.”

Daniel’s approach to photography is distinctly anthropocentric, his goal is to create empathy through these fragmented stories—an element he considers one of the highest achievements in photography. “I always aim to share the feelings permeating a specific instance through something that’s essentially inanimate. I don’t mean to expose people, I just want to interact with them and respectfully engage with their world as an outsider. It’s more about celebrating people.”

As expected from a naturally curious eye, traveling is an inextricable aspect of Daniel’s practice. “The thrill you get from immersing yourself in an entirely different culture fuels my creative drive,” he says. “New impressions are overwhelming and exciting at the same time, like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face.” On a trip to Uganda, where he spent most of his time in Kampala, the country’s capital, Daniel translated the constant visual stimuli surrounding him into a photo series—one that’s rich in feeling and aesthetics. From navigating the chaotic city on boda bodas to meeting the local Jewish community and planting avocado seeds on a farm, his photos paint a lesser known portrait of this part of East Africa.

“The city’s main mode of transport is the boda bodas: motorcycle taxis which you just stop on the street and tell the driver where to go.”

The term ‘boda boda’ is believed to derive from the days when people first started crossing borders in East Africa to transport goods back and forth. 

“My friend Moses, a Kampala native, squeezes between walls to show me around his neighborhood. You really get the feeling that space is limited in this city.”

“Patrick, Moses’ little brother, sells second-hand shoes on the streets of Kampala. After school, he carries his mobile shoe rack around the city hoping to sell some of his assorted second-hand sneakers and shoes. The money he makes helps to pay the bills for his studies at a local IT school. Once I got to know Patrick, he let me take his portrait amid his father’s plantain field. Along with the Casava root, plantains (more commonly called Matoke in Uganda) are the staple food eaten in the region, often steam-cooked and mashed into a meal. By the time we arrived at the farm, which is located near the small city of Tororo along the Kenian border, the sun was about to set.”

“Moses took me to the hut his brother built when he was only 16 years old. These makeshift houses are put together with all kinds of discarded materials and end up having a very characteristic look. Nothing is visually neutral—you get to see a mixture of textures, patterns, and typography.”

“On my way up to the source of the Nile river I had to pass a couple of checkpoints before boarding the boat. One of the armed guards caught my attention. He was the only one sitting down and a great deal older than his younger comrades. The respect towards elders in the Ugandan culture is really high and what struck me is that you always have to pay attention to elders when they’re around. I politely asked the guard for a photo and he immediately assumed a warrior pose with pride. I was quite surprised by his fluent English skills and how much he wanted to talk. In return for me taking his picture, he asked me for cigarette before letting me pass through to the river.”

Thanks, Daniel, for showing us the way you experienced Uganda and introducing us to the locals you met and photographed. Keep up with our contributors’ travels on our travel blog

Photography: Daniel Müller
Text: Effie Efthymiadi