Photojournalism: Through the third eye of Tom Saater

by Tahir Sherriff – August, 2014

Tom Saater is not a house-hold name. Its a name, that comes to life. You embark on a journey, and discover. A journey through imagery, where human eyes and camera lenses combine to provide you frozen moments – trapped in a spinning conversation. Saater is not a household name, but each day he tells the tale of everyday Nigerians in their homes. It’s a loose translation of the word passion.

Tom is a documentary photographer interested in social issues. These issues have been shared by local and foreign organisations like the Africa Report, Courier Australia, Africa report in Paris, Carter Centre, USAID, Daily Telegraph, Buzz Feed, Global Fund, Japan Times and Time Out.

The last time we met, he was working on a series with the French Cultural Centre and was equally part of The Invisible Borders Trans African Photography project stretching further the opportunity to explore the world while traveling with a group of Nigerians, South Africans, Kenyans and citizens of Eritera.

More personally, Tom is friend. A photographer who captures and brings to light issues like the young girl in Plateau state Nigeria, who suffered from Trachoma till she got help from the Carter Centre or the plight of the thousands of widows suffering in the north-eastern region of Nigeria while being plagued by Boko Haram, a situation during which Tom had to wear a bullet-proof vest while driving around Maiduguri city for almost a whole week.


Tom is the type of photographer who runs around with his iPhone 5, a 5D camera and Mac Book Pro in the rain and damages them all simply to capture the protests of crying mothers seeking the governments support to bring back their girls. Tom isn’t just a Nigerian; he is a citizen of the world.

So when Tom sends me a message to say he’s crossed over ten countries with the Invisible Boarders team and adds that there’s close to ten more to go, I send him a smiley, it’s all about passion. This he defines uniquely with the way he lives.


He is that one photographer who gives you, via his experiences, a good story that can stand out and inspire millions without the help of highly prolific stars. That character with a humility that extends beyond the lens of a digital camera and gives you a grand cinematic view which captivates your heart leaving you in awe of a scenery no matter how simple it might look. Saater isn’t just that awesome photographer, he’s also a friend. A friend of the world.


So lad, wherever you are right now doing what you do to make the world a better place to live in, I’m here, waiting to get glimpse of the world that you create. As you travel the world with memories like watching the last Super Eagles match in Ivory Coast, or hearing about the Ebola outbreak while at Mauritania I’m reminded that, for what it’s worth, this trip is another one of those actions ordinary people do to reach out to the extraordinary.

A trip which in its message will redefine our understanding of what boarders truly mean. A trip from Lagos to Sarajevo.


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