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The They Come Out at Night Issue

The Story Behind the Cover of VICE Magazine's November Issue

We spoke with photographer Michele Sibiloni about the inspiration behind his nocturnal work in Kampala.

by Michele Sibiloni
14 November 2016, 12:00am

This story appeared in the November issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

For this cover, we highlighted the accompanying portfolio without explicitly referencing the main subject material. The trappers wait a while for the grasshoppers to come, and we wanted to emphasize that anticipation. The flies, lit up here, signal the grasshoppers will arrive soon.

Michele Sibiloni is an Italian photographer currently based in Uganda's capital city, Kampala. He's been documenting the region for several years, most notably in his previous book, fuck it, which focused on the city's nightlife and the characters he met along the way. In his latest series, he spends time with local grasshopper trappers.

Michele Sibiloni

VICE: What's the story behind our cover image?
Michele Sibiloni: I took this picture in Kampala. After about three hours of hanging around the same plant [where the trappers worked], I got into my car and waited for the grasshoppers. Eventually, one of the workers told me that some fl ies were starting to appear. He said this normally signaled that the grasshoppers would arrive shortly. He climbed to the rooftop to scan the sky for their arrival, and that's the moment captured on the cover.

How did you get access?
In some places, I asked for permission. I would talk to the trappers about what they do, and only then would I start to take pictures. In other places, I just walked around between the traps. Some hunters come out at night and attempt to catch other insects. They don't capture many of them—only enough to eat for the day, or enough to sell for a small amount of money, so they can buy different food. The trappers tiptoe at night, either alone or in pairs. They wear hoodies, scarves, and hats to protect their skin and eyes from the blinding lights of the traps. I move the same way, quietly—following the people, instead of the grasshoppers.

How long do you plan on covering the grasshopper harvesters?
Until I get bored of what I'm doing. But for now, I like to be in these places, and I always find new things that I didn't notice the previous season.

Where do you get your day-to-day inspiration?
I draw inspiration from what's around me, and what I have a connection to. I try not to overthink anything before I photograph, or while I'm doing it. I question what I do later, after I'm done. I think it's a necessary step for any new photo project.

Michele Sibiloni shoots in Uganda, outside a homemade grasshopper trap.