The narrative of Ethiopia often depicted on international media is not the same as what the younger generation was raised hearing about from their parents and grandparents. It often focuses on the wars and famine the country has gone through, or highlights only the lifestyle of the elite of the time. One of the reasons for this was that most of the photographs which appear in photography books or magazines were taken by photographers with little or no cultural ties to their subjects.

Old photographs by Ethiopian amateur and professional photographers are rich historic resources which have been widely neglected up to now. This is the inspiration behind the project: Vintage Addis Ababa. Aiming to democratize the narrative of Ethiopia’s past by bringing to light diverse perspectives, Vintage Addis Ababa is an art project collecting stories told from the viewpoint of everyday people themselves.

This archival project, currently backed by the European Union and the Embassy of Switzerland in Ethiopia, preserves local photography from decades past for decades to come. The old photographs are crowd-sourced from private archives to create visual memories of Addis Ababa’s past.

By exploring such prospects, Vintage Addis Ababa is working to bring out untold stories – ones that show that even in times of pain and suffering, there was joy and love. Amidst national crisis, there was still hope and laughter.


The team of three: Philipp Schütz, Addis based Swiss photographer, and his colleagues Wongel Abebe and Nafkot Gebeyehu, all of them active story tellers and cultural producers, officially launched the project on July 21, 2017. Everyday a photograph is shared on Instagram, Facebook and their website on Tumblr


It has so far attracted over 40,000 followers, many getting in touch to contribute photos and stories of their loved ones. Since the launch, over 800 photographs from various contributors have been collected covering five decades (1940’s – 1980’s).

By sharing old photographs of weddings, studio portraits, family photos etc. the team is working on building a more intimate and all-rounded perspective of history.


The end-goal of the project is to publish a photo-book with the photographs collected. The coffee table book will feature photos that show the life of everyday people in the old Addis Ababa.

Do you have old photos from Addis Ababa in family photo albums that were taken at least 50 years ago?


If you are interested in contributing old photos, please send an email to or write to them on Facebook (vintageaddisababa) or Instagram