" When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." - Tuli Kupferberg Before I left for Africa people would ask, "Why are you going?" " Are you going to be a nature photographer now?" "What are you going to do with those pictures?" " You're a people shooter." My favorite comment was, "I know a bunch of people who went to Africa and took pictures. It's really no big deal."
Here's my answer: it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I ever shoot another picture of a bird or an elephant or even if I go to Africa again. It doesn't matter if anyone sees the pictures at all. What matters is how the experience of stepping away from the comfort of my same camera settings and my same equipment and my same mindset informs my future work and my life. I mean, why go to Egypt to take a picture of the pyramids when there is one in Memphis?
After five days being completely out equipped and out of my element, I was finally on familiar territory when we visited a fishing village on Lake Kariba. I had so much bottled up frustration and emotion from the past few days that, when I arrived and saw all the people, I became laser focused and it just all came out. I told a friend that I'm not sure I would have made these pictures at the beginning of the trip as opposed to the end. Not that I think I have to go through misery every time I want to take a meaningful picture, but it was certainly something I could draw on in the future.
Elyane had been there the previous year and came bearing gifts of seeds for the gardens.
The kids loved to see their pictures on the back of the cameras.
Kathy made a new friend that escorted her through our tour of the village.
Then she picked up another one.
Seeing all the dirt, bare feet, and torn clothes, and smelling the overpowering odor of drying fish would have made it easy to project my own values on the scene, but I resisted. I wanted to show the joy and the dignity in work that the people of the village had. This was one of my favorite days and when I felt things finally coming together.
The hard part was getting a good portrait. Once you started taking pictures of one or two, ten more would show up. The children loved having their picture made!
Here are a few.
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