The Religion

Photograph/Jessica Hilltout

Photograph/Jessica Hilltout

Jessica Hilltout discovers that in Africa, where not even the basics are taken for granted, football is precious.

This article was originally published in September 2012.

Jessica Hilltout

Jessica Hilltout

This project, titled Amen, began in 2008 and pays homage to Africa. I love Africa and it loves football. While I made the photos and did the travelling, Africa brought this concept to life. I was interested in showing football as it is played by millions… far from the big stadiums, the money and corporate sponsors—the World Cups played everyday by friends and communities all over the continent.

I followed my gut and felt my way through villages in search of all those details. People let me in and proudly showed me their shoes, the footballs, their jerseys. And hence, I divided Amen into Goals, Balls, Players, Boots and Footie Fever.

Showcased here are portraits of the players for whom life without football is unimaginable. Football is played everyday around 4pm in towns and tiny villages alike. And so, I wanted this series to be a positive portrayal of Africa despite its daily struggles. Amen speaks of dignity, pride, endurance, solidarity and ingenuity.

To view the rest of Amen and to look at Jessica’s work, visit

While Documenting a Passion

  • For projects like this, it is best to use your senses as everything takes place on location. Looking, listening, talking and feeling are key.
  • Talk to people before you make pictures of them, include them in your plans and explain your intentions. What you project as a person is exactly what you get back.
  • Start a trip with a blank book and return with something marked with fingerprints, dust and stories. Not only can a logbook end up being a map of your trip, it can also help you see the progression of your ideas and encourage you.

About Jessica Hilltout
She is a Belgian photographer who dabbled in advertising, but eventually bought an old jeep and left the country with a friend. According to her, that impromptu trip was the start of the way she sees things today.

Tags: Africa, september 2012, jessica hiltout, football