Ethiopia blog

Aside: Portraits

Click here to see a gallery of portrait or portrait like photos from Ethiopia

I am semi-consumed with photography while I’m travelling. It’s not that I’m thinking about taking a picture every second or hunting for that big travel image (think Eiffel tower in black and white), but instead photography is my way of describing the experience of a new place. This often arises through smaller and less significant things than monuments and museums. Any google search can bring those up, along with the many generalizations and associations that are already labeled upon them in your mind. Instead, the feel a city can invoke is carried in the minuet and intimate. For me it was:

 The mash of color and texture in Marrakech 

 The rich and nearly surreal sea life in Greece

 The emotional content of everything in Seville


And so on.

In Ethiopia this is no different. My camera is almost always with my body. Being in a developing country, I had some scepticism in how this would be received. In Marrakech it was rarely received well. I was asked several times – kindly and not so kindly – to delete any pictures my accuser had been in. Luckily, Ethiopia is more relaxed and less tourist centric, and in general the populous is un-phased or intrigued by my camera. I even got asked to take someone’s picture! What a joy. There is constant struggle in photography to decide to intervene with the subject in order to get the light and feeling just right for the portrait or action shot, or provide no interruption and simply observe. I have always preferred the latter. However this trip I am asking for portraits. This requires a close shot, one that would be intrusive regardless of the size of the camera, as the subject now becomes the individual and not necessary their surroundings. The details of their face, their expression, outfit, and posture all provide a plethora of those intimate moments I seek to capture. Yet the person is aware of the camera, so can this really be authentic? It seems that way, seeing some of the great portraiture work of the past. But the age of the selfie has somewhat turned my view of portraits sour. But it’s worth trying, and this is a great place to do so.

Click here to see a gallery of portrait or portrait like photos from Ethiopia