Friday, July 17, 2009

Four Students, MACODEF, Western Kenya, 2007

Four students, four personalities, four attitudes, four stories stand before us for a few seconds before the next group of students replace them. They walk from building to building without shoes but with a desire to learn comparable to the best students at the best universities. The teachers are just as eager and the foundation that assists them just as willing.

We make these portraits in the early hours of the day, after the portraits of the girls. According to the good people of the foundation, to photograph the girls first in this part of the country goes against policy, for it is men, then boys, then women and then girls. As with my photography elsewhere, we start from the bottom up. To my surprise, the representative from the foundation is pleased with this approach and decides to tell people that this is just my way.

For the most part, everyone respects this choice, with women waiting their turn after the girls and with men waiting until the end. The choice to photograph this way is many times a dilemma, inevitably going against every single culture and policy in every single country. In my experience unfortunately, a place that holds girls first in importance has yet to be found. So we create this place every time we set up for portraits, just as this article is about girls even though the subjects are boys. My camera adores the boys just like the girls. It is just time to give the girls their time in the sun.