The Portfolio

Behind the Lens with Photographer Lee Litumbe

by Lee Litumbe

All photos by Lee Litumbe.

We are entranced by the dreamy photographs and storylines of 's Lee Litumbe. How does she manage to get those gorgeous shots? It's a combo of history, anthropolog, mischief, and — wait for it — real film.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a 27-year-old Cameroonian-American, and although I have spent majority of my life living in Atlanta, Georgia, I was born and spent my childhood in Douala, Cameroon, as a quintessential tomboy. Climbing mango trees in my compound (much to my mom's dismay), embarrassing the boys by outrunning them in every relay race in primary school, and riding my bike around my neighborhood are just a few of my favorite memories from that time. I like to think that I have maintained the same keen curiosity, spirit of mischief, and sense of adventure for life and the world that surrounds me — a free-spirited nature that I hope is reflected in the work I produce.

In regards to travel, my curiosity is sparked primarily by countries I consider off the beaten path — remote with unusual landscapes, or those I feel are inaccurately represented by Western media. Any country where I can expose myself to a new culture, language, or religion is one I would likely consider. I ultimately choose my travel destinations with the hope to expand my knowledge of any given region while also challenging what viewers think they know about it. One of my biggest goals is also to help take the anxiety out of traveling to any of those regions. The promise of indulging in delicious food doesn't hurt either.

Describe your photography style.

I consider myself a visual storyteller, so I always strive to capture the sights, sounds, textures, and flavors of a place, in addition to its landscapes and people. Because photography is also a big part of how I experience new destinations, I always have a camera with me, which can be slightly annoying for anyone traveling with me who doesn't understand that I will not always live in the moment because I want to try to capture it.

I initially started shooting film (I currently work with a Canon AE1 Program Camera and several different lenses) because it was the only camera I had, but it's now a conscious choice, as it captures a certain feeling I don't think can be recreated digitally or by using filters. It's definitely not the most convenient (or cost-effective!) style of shooting, but I love the feeling of anticipation I get every time I develop a new roll.

What do you love most about photographing on the road?

Whether I'm capturing the joyful innocence of children, the hustle and bustle of market life, or vast landscapes, photography allows me to find innovative ways to experience my surroundings. Photography has gifted me with an insurmountable amount of confidence and fearlessness, because I have to push beyond the boundaries of my comfort. Through a lens, my perspective is refreshed and I seek beauty in all things.

Where are you going next?

One of my biggest goals is to challenge myself to explore more countries within Africa and the African diaspora, and to educate myself on the history of the people and cultures that exist within them. I'm passionate about showing others that Africa is not defined by the poverty, conflict, disease, and socio-political issues that are constantly being projected by the media, and I am consciously working towards documenting Africa in a way that will attract more investment and tourism, not just charity. A few countries currently on my radar to visit in the near future are Senegal, Mali, Mozambique, Seychelles, Zambia, and Morocco.


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