Meet Sarjo Baldeh: Gambia’s Young Female Photographer Making Headlines in AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast

by Joseph Omoniyi
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Sarjo Baldeh is a rare talent in the booming industry of sports journalism in her country. Instead of using a pen or microphone to report, she tells stories through her camera lens, capturing stunning images that speak volumes. In just 24 months, she has excelled in the field of sports photography. The 21-year-old photographer from The Gambia, has made history as the youngest and first Gambian photographer at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Sarjo’s photography career started to take off in 2015 when she was 15 years old and in 9th grade. She had the opportunity to be part of Starfish International, an organization that hosts volunteers from different countries. During the program, Sarjo began taking pictures, and that ignited her passion for photography.

When asked about her motivation, Sarjo says, “I think it is the love and the story behind the scenes that drives me. Also, the respect I have for the profession, wanting to learn, improve, and never be complacent.”

Sarjo aspires to be a technician after finishing her studies at the GTTI. She is confident in her abilities and believes she has what it takes to achieve success, just like other young female Gambians who are making waves in their respective fields.

Sarjo caught the attention of our sports editor after covering the Gambia versus South Sudan African Cup of Nations qualifier. She is now pursuing a career in sports photography and photojournalism.

When asked why she chose photography, Sarjo says, “Photography is a gift, something meant for me. It’s a burning passion. I started when I was going to school, and I continuously kept on taking pictures.”

Sarjo looks up to Fatou Ndure and Rene Moses as her role models in photography. They have guided and mentored her, helping her grow as a photographer.

When asked about her future plans, Sarjo confidently states, “I see myself going to a photography school one day and achieving my dream.”

Despite her passion for photography, Sarjo also prioritizes her studies. Balancing both can be challenging, but she manages to document her school activities and has become known as “Sarjo the photographer” among her peers.

Sarjo takes pride in her patience and the impact she has made on people’s lives through her photography. In the coming years, she envisions owning her own studio, representing The Gambia in international competitions, and advocating for more females to thrive in photography.

As a young female photographer, Sarjo stands out in a field predominantly occupied by men. She defies stereotypes and has become a powerful photographer, even though some may refer to her as a “cameraman.”

Sarjo’s dreams extend beyond photography. She aspires to work with FIFA as media personnel, leaving a lasting legacy and paving the way for other young female photographers in The Gambia.

Sarjo has become a role model for many aspiring photographers. She has formed a social media page called Team Baldezz, where she and other passionate individuals showcase their skills in photography, videography, graphic design, and scriptwriting.

Aside from photography, Sarjo is also a student studying construction at the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).

For Sarjo, being part of the Africa Cup of Nations is a dream come true. She sees it as an opportunity to network with other photographers, learn from them, and gain valuable experience.

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