Photography in the Metaverse

In Focus: #SuperGrannies – Tobin Jones and the SuperGrannies of Korogocho

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Each powerful portrait is now available to purchase as unique NFT editions on OpenSea  with 10% of proceeds going to the subjects. Each primary 1/1 NFT sale comes bundled with both the trading card and photograph versions of the NFT, and includes an archive quality print.

In a heavily populated slum in Nairobi, there exists a small secret society of grandmothers who have decided that enough is enough.

In Korogocho, grandmothers are often seen as easy targets by some young gang members. “Shoso Jikinge”, which is Swahili for “Grandmother, Protect Yourself”, is a secret society of elderly women skilled in the ancient art of Kung Fu. This group of admirable women have learnt how to punch, carefully assess dangerous situations and reliably call for help.

“I’ve got my mind! I’ve got my body! I say NO!”

Six women proudly yell at the top of their lungs during their weekly class in self-defense. The environment is welcoming and the resilience is powerful. One after another, they take turns to use a variety of weapons to practice on punch bags as they repeatedly rehearse their war cries with fervour. 

Swiftly, their committed weekly training sessions transformed into real life defense skills and now these grannies are very proud to have noticed that the incident rate has hugely reduced.

One photographer, Tobin Jones, caught word of these courageous grannies during his time working in the Nairobi slums and he gladly took on the honorable duty of documenting the superpowers these strong women possess.

Using a trading card format, Jones has highlighted the incredible strength and power these grandmothers demonstrate in their everyday lives and by matching old-school film photography, digital frames and NFTs he has created a compelling group of 12 photographs to share their touching tales. Each NFT Photograph nobly delves into their individual skills, weapons and intimidation.

A National Geographic film about the SuperGrannies of Korogocho

Tobin Jones

Here, Jones talks us through his SuperGrannies project:

What was your first experience with the SuperGrannies?

I had known about the SuperGrannies for several years before I ever photographed them. I’d worked in the slum where they live doing different stories over the years and had heard of this group of grandmas who’d taken up fighting in order to defend themselves and, of course, the idea of a group of elderly women learning martial arts immediately jumped out at me. The problem was I couldn’t ever quite figure out how I might be able to photograph the story through that traditional photojournalism lens. I wanted to do something a little more creative, a little quirky, something that straddled the line between traditional photojournalism and art. It took a little while to come up with the idea, but once I had it, I went searching for them and was quickly invited to one of their meetings. They sang a song, did a dance, strung up a bag full of clothes to use as a punching bag, and the rest is kind of history!

How did you feel afterwards?

I really loved photographing this group. They were such an inviting and positive group of women and were a real pleasure to photograph. I think what was tough was realizing that the reasons for this group ever forming in the first place came about because of a really tough set of circumstances. Many of these elderly women had been prayed upon while living in the slum because of their age and had faced both physical and, in some cases, sexual assault.

What was the most challenging moment during photographing the SuperGrannies?

The most challenging part of this project wasn’t so much the photography itself, but rather all of the technical parts of the project – which included shooting in film, developing this film, digitizing the negatives, and then finally manually coloring in each photograph to get the exact look I wanted. Although I had started off in photography shooting and developing my own photographs back in university, this was a bit of a relearning process, and the colorization of the project an entirely new skill I had to develop.

What is your inspiration behind the style of this collection?

The inspiration for the style of this collection really goes back to the very first methods of color photography. Before color film, if you wanted color photographs you had to get an artist to individually color in each photograph. It was an extremely time consuming process, but one that created beautiful photographs. This process of course mostly died out once color photography was invented, but was always something I wanted to incorporate into modern photography in order to create that juxtaposition of an olden day photograph in a modern setting. 

My reason for then creating trading cards out of these portraits is that this seemed to fit in well with the ethos around NFTs. I liked the idea of giving these grandmas a supernatural identity and perhaps giving the project an appeal beyond that of what would be the usual audience. 

I also loved the idea that by creating NFTs out of these photographs I’d essentially be transcending several eras of photography. The analog era of film, the digital era of computers, and what I see as the future era of photography and Web3.

What is NFTPhotography to you?

I think too many people think of NFTs as something akin to art, but the reality is that NFTs really represent a new form of digital contract that has the potential to make it much easier for creatives to both sell their work and continuously profit from this work as it gets sold on from owner to owner in the future. As a result I’m incredibly excited by the space because I think it’s going to make it much easier for photographers to do the types of projects they want, get paid for these projects, and hopefully make it easier for new photographers to enter the space. 

How did you discover your passion for photography?

I first started taking photographs right after finishing school and then really got into it during university when I started developing my own film and spending time in the darkroom. I think what appeals to me about photography is that it allows you to be an extrovert and go out into the world, but then also allows for you to be an introvert when you retreat afterwards back into the darkroom. I’m a little bit of both of these, so this balance suits me well.

SuperGrannies of Korogocho (#SuperGrannies), created by Tobin Jones, has just opened its Greenlist where you can grab your chance for early access to the exclusive collection of NFTs. Each primary sale includes an archive quality print. 

We are donating 10% net proceeds from the collection to the SuperGrannies of Korogocho.

Related #SuperGrannies stories

#SuperGrannies Drop timeline

Greenlist: Open Now

Presale: 28th April – 4th May 2022

Drop date: 5th May 2022


Check out our latest drop:

The Constructed Self (#ConstructedSelf)