But as ever, those on this side of the Atlantic are barely noticed.
Photography was once considered a man’s territory, but each year, more and more women set out on the journey to launch and lead their own companies.
It’s been a privilege to watch the growth of one home-grown talent, who has become an unheralded superstar.
Senyuiedzorm [pronounced Say-nyu-ay-jorm] Awusi Adadevoh has travelled every major global sporting event since 2008, yet few people know of her in her own country.
This weekend, she was recognised as Ghana’s Best Sports Photographer at the Sports Excellence Awards in Accra.
A business-savvy lady, she has inspired other women with dreams of founding startups, and from the beginnings of publishing an all-colour journal called Sports Unlimited, to working gigs for multinationals, it’s been quite a journey for the graduate of the African University College of Communications.
DEDICATION, PASSION AND HARDWORK
At the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, Ghanaian journalists watched as the ultimate in bad news for a photographer hit her – her entire camera set was taken by a taxi driver.
Imagine spending years working on putting together a bespoke kit, complete with thousands of dollars of equipment. But as she pointed out at the time, she had storage devices that had held years’ worth of word.
That day in Mongomo, in the east of the Spanish-speaking country, Senyuiedzorm, a highly-accomplished, well-travelled and battle-scarred warrior, sat down and wept.
Imagine the scene: by a tarred road, across the street from a four-star hotel where the Black Stars were lodging, a lady in boots cut a solemn figure, inconsolable.
It was an image that she herself would have wanted to take for posterity. The passion of her tears probably moved the spirits of this world, and eventually – somehow and unbelievably – her equipment was found. When the equipment was found, the transformation was remarkable, she carried on covering the tournament and flying around the country, as if nothing had happened.
In fact, a similar story of adversity seems to follow her wherever she goes. And, after watching her for years, I think it stems from her gender.
To compensate and protect themselves, women often feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. It’s pretty much the same for women in photoghraphy at the highest level, too.
And that is why her commitment to doing her job, leading to coverage of two Olympic Games, two World Cups, five African Nations’ Cups, photoshoots with some of the biggest names in sport, need to be celebrated.
She may not have been born in the United States or somewhere in the western world, but Ghana is proud of its own Annie Leibovitz.
It’s great news to hear that more female photographers are being nurtured in Ghana. However, when it comes to sports photography as a specialisation, Adadevoh is the only one around.
And for the past decade, she’s been the lone ranger blazing that patch. In a field usually owned by men, she’s had her A-game.
Adadevoh has done so much that it’s hard to know where to begin. For a mid-’30s woman from Ghana, the fact that she’s a constant commissioned worker for the Confederation of African Football, Fifa, several agencies across the world, and owner of several patented photos is remarkable.
One of the most remarkable stories of her career was when Angola, as hosts of the 2010 African Cup, asked her to produce a journal of the competition in English and Portuguese. That was huge.
And then there was when Vodafone asked her to hop to England on a Friday, cover an FA Cup final, and she was back by Monday. It’s been fun, but as an observer, I know it’s been hard.
In fact, arguably, the photographic football history of the Black Stars from 2008 to present has not been captured in more vivid detail by anone like she has.
Asamoah Gyan, the Black Stars captain, is said to have shaken his head is disbelief when, on his birthday last November, he was shown an album Senyuiedzorm had done for him. The album told the story of his national team career from 2008, till present, in breathtaking images. Images from Ghana, Angola, England, South Africa, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and many countries in between.
“This lady is amazing”, he is quoted as saying.
It is rumoured that even the Ghana Football Association and the National Sports Authority do not have a more exhaustive album than she does. And it won’t be surprising.
If you doubt it, go to her professional Facebook page for a peep.
Some of her photo-exhibitions at the Golden Tulip Hotel have drawn awe from the dignitaries who have graced them. Typically, Senyuiedzorm won’t comment on the money side of the work, although it is a known fact that photography in Ghana at that level can be more loss-making than a money-spinner.
She’s published several journals chronicling major sporting events in the last eight years in Ghana. And you have a feeling that she’s just getting started. But from the beginning when it was completely abnormal to see a woman hauling a huge camera on her shoulders at functions in Accra and Kumasi, it’s now very usual to see her pulling her camera bags in Nairobi, London, Beijing and Rio.
It’s a story of passion. And it’s a story of love for the arts.
That award on Saturday is just reward for Senyuiedzorm’s hard work.