JUNE 1, 2024


volume 2


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Welcome to our second installment of 'Stories of Senegal,' a heartfelt exploration of this country's wonders through the perspective of my friends, fellow artists, designers, and influencers. As we unfold this series, get ready to discover the vibrant art, delectable cuisine, and untold stories that encapsulate the spirit of this place I hold so dearly. Today, lets celebrate Senegal's remarkable art and authenticity through photographer Lorenzo Montanelli’s lens!

Lorenzo Montanelli is an incredibly talented Italian photographer who got in touch with me expressing interest in capturing DIARRABLU in Dakar. Since I've never had a photographer in the studio before, I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to share more about our work and collaborate with a fellow creative. 

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Why did you first decide to visit Senegal?

Every year my wife and I choose a country to visit. A place where we forget our daily businesses and we breathe new air. I've been following Dak’Art Biennale on social media for a few years and I thought that was the right place to look for an artistic environment to photograph. Simple tourism is not for me, so I always need to add a purpose to my trip, and that’s how I came in touch with you [Diarra]. Together, we arranged shooting in the magical DIARRABLU Villa and Atelier. 

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Sunset at Cap Skirring

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View in Sine Saloum Delta

What aspects of my brand intrigued you the most?

Reading your bio caught my curiosity and attention immediately! The mix of your African roots and the technological side developed in Silicon Valley is absolutely unique. Then, once we finally met you and your mother, Khoudia, all our expectations were more than satisfied. You were both so kind and the perfect hosts, and the love for your work is remarkable! 


How was your experience at the DIARRABLU Studio? 

Shooting the collection has been a real pleasure for my eyes, the colors, and the cut reminded me exactly of the style I had in mind: the right balance between comfort and elegance, classy but not boring grey! 

In the end, we had a wonderful lunch with all of your family, which was another priceless experience because it was exactly what we needed: to be in touch with a different culture, a different atmosphere, in a country far from Italy but feeling at home at the same time! 

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What do you love the most about Senegal?

Not just wonderful beaches and the amazing landscape of Sine Saloum, Senegal is full of inspiration for the art. We spent nights at Loman Art House in Dakar, a Villa where Loman, the owner and a fabulous artist and curator, rents rooms and organizes exhibitions and events. She actually gave us great advice. That’s how we met Mauro Petroni, an Italian artist who is having a great exhibition to celebrate his 40 years of activity in Senegal and the rest of Africa, and also Barkinado Bakoum, a Senegalese painter who won prizes at Dak’Art and in foreign exhibitions. 

But I think the most important lesson to learn about Senegal is how this artistic soul is breathable in the air all along the country. In every spot, in people's use of colors, in their looks, in their approach to life. 

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Barkinado Bocoum in his studio in Dakar


Not just wonderful beaches and the amazing landscape of Sine Saloum, Senegal is full of inspiration for art. 

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Couple at Goree Island

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Sunrise in Cap Skirring

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Players at Toubab Dialao

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A photography tip from Lorenzo:
I love to shoot using only natural light, without adding flash to my pictures. It makes me feel closer to the subject, creating a more intimate relationship with them.Sometimes, however, we need good lighting to highlight people's faces or the clothes they wear. One way to achieve this is by incorporating surfaces in the set where the sunlight hits directly, such as stone walls, concrete floors, or the side of a building with windows.

Using light reflected by natural surroundings instead of artificial flash creates a more authentic atmosphere, ensuring the subject is well-lit while maintaining natural colors for their clothing and interesting skin tones.

Occasionally, I find myself shooting in a narrow, quite dark street, but a ray of sunlight might hit a window in a building at the end of the road, projecting like a spotlight in a theatre. When this happens, it's a magical way to portray the subject as a performing star!