I loved my time in Ethiopia. I’m not really sure if I had expectations personally before I travelled there, I had just been drawn to explore this beautiful country. However, subsequently I was often asked the same question by people surprised I had been there, who’s own impressions were linked to the depiction of famine, desolation and starvation mostly stemming from the bandaid concerts of the mid 1980’s. Nothing could have been further from my experience if it tried.
Ethiopia is an incredible country, my trip was mostly a cultural rather than wildlife oriented trip and I started by exploring the northern region, an area dominated by awe-inspiring architecture, telling the stories of the rich history of past dynasties that ruled this region over the preceding centuries and the almost incomprehensible accomplishment of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.
However once we heading to the south of the country it wasn’t only the climate that changed from the northern highlands, but also the people. Ethiopia is an amazing melting pot of diverse cultures and people, their beliefs and identities intermingle in the south but not always peacefully.
This beautiful mother and her young child were part of the Karo people, a small more peaceful neighbour of the infamous Mursi. To visit them, we had travelled far off the beaten track, a feat made harder by unseasonal heavy rains. After a long, hot, bumpy journey over donkey tracks we arrived to a bend of the mighty Omo river where their village was perched high above the river with a commanding view. Whilst spoken communication was impossible with most of the people I encountered in southern Ethiopia, it made space for a fleeting smile, a persons energy, a quiet observation of a persons rank and their importance within their community. This connection on a deeper, heartfelt level is so important for any portrait photographer to observe, it is that subtle essence of an image that will captivate the viewer and connect them across time and space with the subject. It is the essence I strive for in all my imagery, the unseen life-force that transports you to unseen places and unknown lands.
In black and white she remains as timeless to me as that moment, when I look at her now she steps off the paper, as real and vivid, as she still remains in my memory and my perception of our encounter from many years ago.
HOW PURCHASING THIS PRINT WILL SUPPORT CONSERVATION:
My time in Ethiopia connected me to the soul of the people of Africa in a way I had not experienced elsewhere. It was a gentle reminder (something sadly often forgotten by those well-meaning who are based overseas) that first and foremost this is their land, this is their home. Good conservation should not be based on judgement and intolerance of the people of Africa, which is sadly a narrative often pervading the messages on social media. It should aim to support and empower, to offer them opportunities for a better life and work with them to enable them to live, work and thrive alongside wildlife and wild places. The challenges of living with the large wildlife of Africa are numerous and varied and in a world riddled with judgement and all to often lacking in compassion and tolerance, the choices these people must make for the survival of them and their family are frequently simply not taken into account or given enough consideration.
It is for this reason that I support organisations where communities are part of and indeed at the heart of the conservation actions. It is with this approach where long-term success is likely to be achieved, where the people feel and are valued and in turn will have the capacity to value and protect their own natural heritage.
The African Parks network is one such organisation and whilst they don’t currently operate in Ethiopia they are working to change the narrative and future for African people living with wildlife in some of the most vulnerable and remotest areas in Africa. They run 19 national parks across the continent working closely with the governments in each country. Whilst protecting and re-establishing the wildlife, they also work to provide healthcare, education and employment to the local people. But perhaps more importantly in many of these areas they offer security, the anti-poaching teams employed to protect the parks and the wildlife, create a ripple that often allows for the neighbouring communities to find relief from the fear and threat of armed raiders and poachers. African Parks shows compassion for the local communities and in many areas this simple change of narrative is resulting in the greatest results for the wildlife. If you would like to support the African Parks Network directly or learn more about what they do and how the donation made when you purchase this print will help, you can visit their website here: https://www.africanparks.org
Instead of offering bulk mass-produced prints, I want you to know that you are buying something special and unique. I feel that people should purchase fine art photography prints because the artwork speaks to them and they feel an emotional connection to the print and the photographer. All my prints are strictly available as low number limited edition runs. As a limited edition print sells its price will appreciate accordingly in the online store, as fewer remain available to purchase.
This picture is printed on archival grade fine art Hahnemühle Photorag paper. If you have not seen this before it a softly textured paper that gives a wonderful quality to an image, really empathising the idea of the texture you would imagine if the people were actually standing in front of you. It is a brilliant paper for bringing out the subtle tones and textures.
I recommend that when you receive your print that you have it properly mounted and framed by an experienced professional frame shop to ensure the maximum care and longevity of your artwork.
Should you wish to purchase a limited edition print in a different size to that listed, please contact me and I will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a quote for the cost to produce the print in your desired size. I am also happy to provide quotes for framing or printing onto Chromaluxe if you would like to have your print sent to you ready for you to hang on your wall.