Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mursi Man + Ornaments, Mago National Park, Lower Omo Valley, March of 2010

His portrait was made early one morning in Mago National Park, almost four years ago in the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia.

The night before we slept near a stream and under a large tree. For our dinner, we had corn from the previous day and some canned tuna. While we slept, a guard from the park services department watched out for us along with some men from his tribe, the very tribe we intended to photograph the next morning.

The reason for the decision to camp was based on the amount of gas remaining for the trip. Sleeping near the tribe allowed us to eliminate the arduous trek over the mountain range and also lessened the wear and tear on the truck, as well as the driver.

Clouds, for some reason in the land of sunshine, decided to appear on the horizon just as the sun was shining most beautifully this entire week. Sleep was hard to find all night because of this. Every once in a while, I unzipped the small tent and looked up at the skies only to see stars. Then I went back to sleep only to repeat this a few times during the night.

In the morning, before the sun came up, I checked on the sky one more time, saw only stars. Excitement built and we decided to move quickly. We packed all of our gear, placed it on top of the truck and headed to the village only a minute or so away.

Opposite to what most people told us, a tribe that was supposed to be most difficult was in actuality more than gentle. We began with the girls, then the women and then the older men. During this morning's session, a large cloud appeared out of nowhere unexpectedly and seemed to be moving in the same direction and with the same speed as the sun.

With the previous five days in mind, I almost decided to put everything away and give up. The translator told me to be patient, told me that the sun will reappear in less than one hour. In the end, he was right. The sun did reappear and even though it was higher and stronger than before, the people were able to stand up and collaborate beautifully.

We finished on a high note and moved on to the next tribe, until our return next year hopefully.


Note: This portrait was exposed onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination.

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