While preparing for a presentation to a camera club, I looked over some of the images I took on my second visit with the Konso tribe in Ethiopia's Omo region. Especially moving for me were the reactions of villagers to photographic prints I brought of images I had taken during my visit three years earlier.
I had photographed many women working and taking care of their babies. One by one, I brought out photo prints. Villagers crowded around to identify the subjects. Someone would run to get the person. The looks of recognition were amazing. When the subject saw their photograph, they were instantly rushed back in time three years ago. I could only imagine what must be going through their minds since they had no photographs, cameras or TV. Now their children had grown. Serious flash back.
But the most moving moment came when I brought out a photograph of an old man. The village elders I was meeting gathered around to identify the man. He had died. Someone said that they had seen his son working in the fields. "Get the son," demanded one elder. When the son saw the photograph, he hugged it and started to cry. This photograph was the only thing thing he had to remember his father.
It's not often I'm so moved I can't take a picture. This was one of those moments.
The print probably cost me 25 cents to print (but $3000 to deliver). The villagers, elders and chief were so grateful that they gave me a special escort so that I could photograph anywhere and anything in the village, even the sacred wooden statues.