Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Nigel Morris | Tribes of South Ethiopia

Photo © Nigel Morris-All Rights Reserved
I've criticized, on a number of occasions, a handful of photographers who feature images of tribes in south Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, depicting them in elaborate (and contrived) headdress, and setting them up to freeze in front of their cameras in awkward poses, and in so doing rewarding them with lavish gifts of money for every photograph made. I traveled to the Omo Valley in 2004 at a time when this was the exception rather than the norm, and when the tribes were willing to have their photographs taken against a modest donation being made to the heads of their villages.

With a very few exceptions, the recent photographic work I've seen has been of overworked imagery, with the Omo Valley tribespeople overly made-up and fetishized by making them wear incongruous head gear and unnatural accessories. So it's with pleasure that I stumbled on Nigel Morris' Tribes of South Ethiopia on PDN (which led me to his website) since his portraits are free of these artificial accoutrements which, in my view, are demeaning. 

According to the PDN interview,  Nigel Morris's gear during his two week long trip to Ethiopia was a Phase One 645DF with my P40+ digital back and 80mm LS lens; two small cameras, a Fuji X100s and Fuji XT1; one flash unit, a Profoto B1; three light modifiers, an Elinchrom Rotalux 69-inch OctaBox, a Paul C Buff Soft Silver Para, and a Westcott Apollo; and two light stands. 

He tells us that he mainly photographed four tribes—the Daasanach, Mursi, Hamer and Bodi. He employed a fixer and a driver, and just rolled in the Omo Valley. He is a portrait and editorial photographer from Brooklyn, New York.