They are many on the African continent who have decided to use their art primarily as a tool for change. The young men we meet today use drone imagery to make people discover their home country from a completely different view angle. Over the months, their brand has become so trendy on Cameroon’s social media that it has been associated with some major events in the country like the victory tour of the newly crowned African champions of football in February 2017. Even if they are not the pioneers of drone photography in Cameroon, Junior Chavez, and Frank Mensah can be considered as those who lifted that type of photography to new highs. We had the pleasure to discuss with them.
Hello guys, this word has been coming back over and over in the imagery industry in Cameroon, what is Camairdroneboy?
Camairdroneboy is a company that presents the best of Cameroon via social media, using a mix of imagery (mostly aerial). We work in agricultural monitoring, monitoring of construction sites, tourism, documentary films, and archiving. The company is made up of 2 partners, Junior Chavez and Franck Mensah. Both passionate about photography and helping our people rediscover their country through the imagery.
What is the idea behind Camairdroneboy?
Our aim is to get the Cameroonians to fall in love with their country all over again by showing them images they can be proud of. Images that inspire the growth of our nation, its beauty, and advantages and furthermore images that give our people the pride to share where they come from with the whole world. Not sure in which category that places us but that's what drives us.
Was it an experiment or a well thought and planned project?
At the base, it is a passion for tourism mixed with a need to represent our country fairly in the media. A trip we shared to a remote area of Cameroon neither of us had been subsequently helped us decide to put together a project that would get the types of images we saw there to our people everywhere across the world, therefore stimulating tourism and investment. Both being photographers (Franck specializing in still photography and Junior in still an aerial photography/videography) and patriots, we understood there was a need to fill; a need to use our images to inspire a whole chain of events for our country (inspiring hope of a better future, better media representation). A few weeks later, Camairdroneboy was created.
#CityCentre | © Camairdroneboy
When did it occur to you that drones were the lacking ingredient to selling the Cameroonian destination?
Drones are at the center of what we do but are only one of the many promotional tools we use to attract people to Cameroon. Drones have the advantage of presenting places that are seen every day under completely new angles. At the time we began our journey, our drone was our competitive advantage in the field of tourism. Alongside our classic cameras, it permitted us to show more of the country on a different scale and at a cheaper cost.
What is the essence of your works?
We have the double goal of first showing how beautiful Cameroon is to its people and then showing how beautiful it is to the world. We would obviously like to accomplish both feats, they both go hand in hand. People visit countries because of the beauty they have been shown through the imagery of some sort. We are lucky we live in a time where with the internet we can do both at the same time.
Tell us about one of your favorite shot. Why does it stand out?
The one that sticks out most are the waterfalls at Memve'Ele in the southern Cameroon which are so extraordinary but unfortunately little known to Cameroonians. We definitely believe it was necessary to walk those kilometers to reach them. Through the thick forest in the southern part of the country, it was simply magnificent. That is the essence of what we do. Going through that thick forest and having the reward of seeing those falls at the end was priceless. This video says it all
#MfoundiCascade | © Camairdroneboy
Any milestones yet?
We are only at the beginning of a much larger adventure than the field of drones, our satisfaction lies in allowing our fellow citizens to better appreciate and discover their country so as not only to present the negative on social networks. The tools are helpful but our main undeniable advantage over the rest is our passion to make our country better through our work. It is the one thing that factors into every decision we make. I'm sure others are passionate about what they do, but our passion is attached to our Patriotism and a love for where we call home, Cameroon. We worked so long without being paid because we knew our images are part of the solution. We see our images on television every day, and even though most just take it from our social media without permission, it reminds us that we are already having an impact on how Cameroon is represented image-wise. It tells us that our work is good enough to be used by networks. Although pirated, this free publicity has gotten us work.
People hear mostly about Camairdroneboy, less about the team behind, why?
We don't work for recognition we do what we do because it is necessary, and our country needs it. We let our work speak. Our passion comes out through our work which is why we put our work in front, NOT ourselves. Our countrymen and women might not yet see the importance of it all now, but they will thank us later and that is good enough for us.
#EquipmentFund | © Camairdroneboy
What is the future of Camerdroneboy?
The future is an everyday struggle. Our immediate project is to improve the quality of our services.
Some of our highlights include the coverage of the Lions of Cameroon victory parade after being crowned African Champions at the AFCON2017, but also being hired by CNN to work on a documentary on the Baka Pygmies in Cameroon.
What is your other project, Cameroon Roads Untraveled?
Cameroon Roads Untraveled is the land version of Camairdroneboy. It is aimed at getting Cameroonians to discover their country and to travel inside it. Franck is the brain behind Roads Untraveled.
He was taking pictures of things people couldn't see on the ground and when he met Junior who was doing the same but more from the sky, the team was formed.
We noticed you went on a campaign to hold responsible a well-known international media house as they used some of your works without giving proper credit. Any comment about the incident?
This has been arranged amicably, we thank once again all our fans who showed us their sympathy. But today, it is a thing of the past.