Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Mursi Woman + Sky, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, 2010

This is a silver gelatin print of a young woman from the Mursi Community. It is made by me, the photographer, in my darkroom. It is printed on Ilford MGIVWT glossy fiber 11x14 paper, and toned in selenium for permanence. It is processed in a Zone VI washer to archival standards, and allowed to dry overnight on a screen. This young woman lives is a most difficult environment, and holds true to her traditional culture. Even though you'll see very few other Ethiopians in her area, vans of tourists stop now and then. Each time the tourists step out and walk into the village. Once they do the community walks over to them in order to try and earn a living with their goods, mainly the lip and ear plates as well as woven baskets. They also earn a living by being photographed, as each tourist pays a certain amount for a photograph. 

The camera/lens combination was a Hasselblad 501CM/180mm, and the frame was exposed onto Fuji's brilliant Neopan Acros 100 using natural light. This portrait is from a library of well over 300,000 negatives exposed over the last 24 years, from four continents and a dozen countries. Every person is spoken with prior to the portrait, and the process is explained fully. Most of my work is on film, and the countries are revisited year after year in order to continue the documentation of the same families, of the same communities. 

The purpose of selling these portraits on Etsy is to support the social work being accomplished through my photography. Presently we have six sewing centers in two states of India, serving both the Hindu and the Muslim communities. In these sewing centers, young women learn a trade while also making clothing for their families. The centers are located in the rural areas, where young women have only one option normally, marriage and a family. At this moment, due to COVID-19, the work is on hold. However, we plan to restart the centers in 2022 and the funds from the sale of these portraits will be applied to the work in India.

As a side note, my belief is that you will be very pleased with the print in person, as the tones of a silver gelatin print are difficult to represent through the screen. One may sense the surface of the print by looking at the gloss in certain areas of the print's surface. In the end, the print you will receive will be slightly different than the one represented on the screen, both in tone and in emotional impact... different in the best sense of the word. Every print is an original, and my hope is that it finds a good space in your home.

Each print will be signed and dated by me, the photographer, and numbered to a maximum of 50 prints (11x14) per negative.

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