Saturday, February 20, 2010

First Day of Photography, Dorze Tribe, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February 1, 2010

After two days of traveling, we arrive in Arba Minch, the beginning point of our photography. From this small town, we purchase food and water to last the next two weeks or so. Then we head to the mountains for our first afternoon of photography.

Here we meet the Dorze Community, known for its marvelous weaving and fabulous bamboo homes. One man approaches us and invites us to his lodge complex, a series of bamboo homes arranged for tourists. After a few minutes of preparation, we find a place on top of a hill and arrange our equipment. The people begin to gather and we proceed to make portraits for the next couple of hours.

As in other countries, the community is willing to give me their attention and show me their kindness, without any preparation in advance. One by one, they stand in front of my camera for their portraits, some for more than five minutes, even exchanging pieces of clothing with each other. Much is done in silence with body gestures or facial expressions.

The video camera rolls as well, documenting the changes in moods and the sounds of the masses as they watch the individuals being photographed. The image above is a still from the first day of video work; her name is Esther and she is the first one photographed.

The next morning, we walk around and see the bamboo forests from which they acquire the building materials for their homes, for their furniture. We also see the banana trees, the apple groves.

In these mountains, the people support themselves, grow their crops and find their water from springs. My companions tell me that few tribes over the next few weeks will have access to such materials, to such sources of food and water.

Life is certainly hard here, but I am told that they have more than others.

Over the next few weeks, this is revealed as the truth.