Sunday, April 26, 2015

My photographs bring emotional magic to Ethiopia's Konso tribe.

One of my most moving photographic experiences ever was in the remote Ethiopian village of Busso. The photographs below were taken on two different visits: the first in 2001, then a return trip in 2007. On the second visit, I brought prints made from the slides taken on my first trip.  

The reactions to seeing the prints were tears, joy and pure delight.

Busso is one of my favorite villages in all of Africa. Konso tribe, Ethiopia.

In 2001, I photographed the old man on the left. There he was holding his pillow/chair staring out at the world through his hand-me-down glasses which still had the original sticker indicating the magnification. It turns out the old man died before my return trip. When I gave the print to the old man's son, he cried with joy. It was the only thing he had to remember his father by. I was so moved by the son's emotional reaction, I couldn't take photographs for a few moments.

On my first trip, I was fascinated by the scarification on the woman's face and her warm smile while holding her first child. When I showed her the photograph, she ran to get her children. The baby in the left photograph is now the taller of her two sons standing in front of her in the more recent picture on the right.

I love taking photographs of people doing everyday things, like this woman working her sorghum harvest. Six years later, on my return trip, the elders identified the woman and called her. She just kept running her finger over the photograph as if touching some distant memory.

I wonder if we technologically adroit Westerners have become immune to photography?

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