Sunday, May 16, 2010

Arbore Boy, Design on Face, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, March, 2010

After five days with the Mursi Community, it is time to head back for the capital. Before we begin our drive north, we decide to photograph one more tribe a second time.

Ten days ago we visited the Arbore Community and made portraits from a distance, with a home providing protection from the sun for me. The session happened in the middle of my sickness and being out in the sun was unbearable for me.

We arrive today a bit early, but healthy. The children recognize us immediately and call on the rest to come quickly. We do all we can to tell them that we have at least one hour before we can begin but they continue coming. We end up finding a place under a tree for all of them to use as shade while I walk around this time and make still images of their homes, their environment.

After about an hour of hearing their giggles, it seems time to begin the work. We choose to photograph the young boys first, then the girls, women and men. The boys line up according to height, making it easier for me to adjust the tripod down rather than up and down.

They pose beautifully, none of them shy perhaps due to the fact that many tourists visit their community. Other evidence of this happens to be the designs on the faces, made mainly to attract the attention of foreigners as they drive by.

We finish the photography of the boys and then the girls begin to line up, according to height again. In this community, the women and girls will wear a black fabric over their heads. We decide to use this fabric for the images and all of the girls take their turns arranging their pieces of fabric.

The images are exquisite, my mind is giddy with disbelief. This is my last day and the images are out of this world. People will view them and think the Middle East, Africa, Islam or Animism. In the end, what happens to these negatives is a story for another entry. It will be sufficient to write that the spring for the shutter snaps before the very first negative of the girls and that the rest of the negatives from this day are lost to history.

This very single moment will be the reason for my return next year, if nothing else.