Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mursi Man, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, March, 2010

Upon unzipping the tent, it is clear to me that the sun will shine unhindered. The sky is full of stars and the wind is almost missing. We rise out of our tents, get everything packed and head to the first collection of homes less than one minute away.

There they are, waiting on us from yesterday. Today is a calmer day than the one previous when the market was open and full of tourists. We speak to the men and make arrangements for the photography. Although this community is quite active, we manage to select from the crowd and gain the cooperation of all.

We begin with the younger girls and manage to make some portraits until, out of nowhere, a large cloud appears and threatens our morning. To my dismay, it moves in the opposite direction of the sun and we achieve sunlight in less than one hour. We call on the men at this time and they pose for us happily. They have seen us around and know that we have done as we have spoken.

Some of them carry a utensil, some of them rifles. The man above is an example. They stand on the bumper of the truck at times to gain height in relation to my lens. This gives the perspective seen in the images. The sky in the background just disappears with the film selected, the process in the darkroom.

During much of my time in Ethiopia the thought of returning seems to fade away. While the children in the communities and many of the adults give of themselves, many of the rest seem quite indifferent, understandably so due to the intense touristic industry in the region.

Everywhere we go, someone has their hand out figuratively, whether that takes the form of yet another guide in addition to the other guide following us or in terms of the official tourist collectives that demand our patronage even though we are trying to mind our own business. At one point a group of unmarked men advise us to put our equipment away, telling us that it looks professional.

However, with the benefit of time and the development of the images, my camera yearns to return, as does my mind.