Friday, February 13, 2015

Man + Necklace, Mursi Community, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, 2010

The Mursi Community of the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia is a formidable, photographic subject. While the number of tourists visiting their extremely remote villages is surprisingly high, they continue to live like they have for generations.

Of course they have adapted, and present themselves to the cameras quite well. What used to be reserved for customs and festivals is now put on display in exchange for payment. They live however without tap water, electricity, government schools nor hospitals. The men are supremely beautiful, and seem to have been carved from the earth around them.

I remember having photographed the women earlier in the day, and asking to photograph the men later. Suddenly the men decided to renegotiate the financial agreement, wanting more than the women to be photographed. For me it was the principle of it, and the translator went back and forth with the men trying to come up with a solution.

Then I asked the translator to speak for me directly, and he went on to do so, explaining that what mattered to me was that everyone be reimbursed the same for a photograph. Whether they were children, male or female, this was the most important aspect of our negotiation for me. They paused for a minute and then agreed to be photographed for the same fee as the women.

I was deeply honored by their decision to allow such to happen, and impressed with their calm demeanor throughout. So far they fascinate me more than any other tribe in Africa, and will be photographed by me for decades to come should those decades be given to me on this globe.


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

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