Trading Places

Trading Places

The Merchants of Nairobi

  1. Steve Bloom
  • ISBN 9780500543818
  • 21.80 x 29.20 cm
  • Hardback
  • 144pp
  • 138 Illustrations, 138 in colour
  • First published 2009
‘A unique book that uses photography to get right under the skin of a community and will excite anyone who delights in the creative energies of the street, and of the photographer’ – The Photographer
‘A compelling read and moving portrait of a side of Africa not often seen … An excellent read and valuable to anyone looking to get into reportage photography’ – What Digital Camera?
‘… an intriguing procession of street art that is as colourful as the characters Steve interviews’ – Amateur Photographer

Steve Bloom has ventured away from the centre of the dynamic African metropolis of Nairobi into neighbourhoods where malls and supermarkets have not yet penetrated
– a world that is changing fast.

Here people buy their daily necessities locally, from small shopkeepers who decorate their hoardings with hand-painted signs. The results are often delightfully quirky – an authentic form of popular street graphics.

Store façades are painted with images of goods of all kinds, from light bulbs to cuts of meat. Affirmative messages abound. ‘Beauty is your birthright’ proclaims the Eclipse Hair Salon. ‘Never give up’, urges the Bora-Bora Bar; ‘Life continues’. More than one shack hotel wittily declares itself ‘Hotel Hilton’.

‘Ghetto life is not easy’ says the façade of Abdalla Store. Indeed not: life here is very hard, yet this book is a tribute to the creativity and generosity of the human spirit. It is also timely, for hand-painted hoardings are rapidly being obliterated by advertisements for mobile phone networks and global brands, adding an extra poignancy to this celebration.

Steve Bloom is the bestselling photographer and author of Untamed; Elephant!; Spirit of the Wild; and Elephants: A Book for Children. His most recent publication, Living Africa, is a spectacular photographic journey through the length and breadth of the continent where he was born and grew up.
See Steve Bloom talking about 'Trading Places'
See more on Steve Bloom including the video for 'Living Africa'