Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Woman from Mursi Community, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, March, 2010

When it came to photographing the women of this community, the presentations were limitless. While much of it was for the sake of the tourists, including me of course, there were examples when they were themselves and enjoyed the session. My inability to communicate with them directly, as well as my translator's inability to do the same, led me to use hand gestures and facial expressions.

Their laughs were surely directed at my clumsiness, at my difficulty within their environment. While everyone else was dressed comfortably for the heat, here I was in the formal attire of pants and shirt. They saw my camera as an antique compared to the digital versions in the hands of the tourists. They were used to standing for group shots for a few seconds, and interpreted my work with a tripod differently.

My friend and guide just advised them that my camera was an old one and that all of my busy movements were to make sure that it worked properly. Every time he would explain my work to them through his own translator they would smile and laugh a little bit.

From most we asked for a minute in front of the camera, perhaps six exposures or so. They stood in a group to my right, in the direction of this woman's gaze. They would walk over, stand for their portrait and then go back to the group watching the work. The sky was used as the background to keep the images in line with my work from other countries.

After our session we went for a break in order to wait for the afternoon sun. Heading back to town seemed pointless, and we found a secluded spot to hang out until our time arrived. We wanted to give the community some peace and quiet, rather than burdening them with our presence.

In my next entry I will tell the story of our return to the town, and how we managed the breakdown of our truck halfway through the mountain path.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

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