Saturday, March 30, 2013

Young Girl, Konso Community, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, February, 2010

She sits on a stone with everyone watching her from behind me. The color of her clothing, along with her expression, made me want to photograph her immediately. She was the first one asked and the one photographed most during our first short session on this day. She was understandably nervous, and the noise around us did little to help her. Chaos perhaps is the word to use, but she held her own and gave me this portrait. I admire her so and am happy that she has joined her brothers and sisters in my portfolio.

The wooden structures behind her are typical of this community. The houses have an incredibly sturdy look to them, and keep intruders out just by their seemingly hazardous angles. I remember walking through the narrow paths and remembering my camera bag being hit from every side while all of the children flew past me carefree.

We arrived early to this small community, and made these first images with the sun up above us. After an hour, we moved to an open space to fully realize the portraits. Many people were waiting and we wanted a larger open space to lower the volume since it was clear to us the volume was going to be there. Over eighty or so people gathered for the session, and people came in from every direction while we worked.

As some approached we asked them to be photographed to their shock, and all obliged. While the work was pretty difficult, the people themselves were nothing but sweet and kind. They are of course accustomed to tourists and yet maintained an air of kindness in the face of a certain level of exploitation. After every portrait I walked over to the sitter and shook their hand, then guided the next person to the spot.

While we photographed a camera was also rolling, recording the commotion all around us. Every few minutes my friends would help maintain an open area around the person being photographed, and try very hard to make sure I had a minute or so to do the work. Looking back at it now I am amazed that we were able to do the work period. I am both thankful for the opportunity and possess a certain bittersweet feeling, perhaps a longing to return and do better next time.

At least we have the image above, and a few more like it from this wonderful place.

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Halim Ina Photography