Felix - "The Lesson" Part One

“So what are you going to do then huh Felix?”…

Speaking in hurried tones to a young 24 year old man who pushed his way to the front of the throng of children at our feet… softly he was telling us that “you're exploiting the children”…taking photos of them as they're hungry rushing and running over one another to get a piece of candy” and maybe on one level he may well have been right. Not about the exploitation but the scene did look similar to words on the statue of liberty… “their tired masses yearning to breath free”… there was something in his words that were worth paying attention to…

Never freelancing, we were working with the permission of everyone from the chief of the village to the subjects we were shooting and finally, we were wrapping the set in the late light and should have taken off to our guarded compound. However I took exception to his comments...it made me pause as we had just completed a few hours worth of portrait photography when the children, about as patient as they could stand it, became restless and so scores of them scrambled up next to us in hopes of being first in line to get a little bit of the candy we had on set. They were the same children that showed up the day before but we only had a few pieces so they were told to come back again today for a bit more. In the dust kicked up from the children’s feet, the failing light growing darker, it was clear that we only had a short amount of time left before it went completely dark. Admittedly, I wanted to make him see that he was wrong and even as staff tried to rush him away...I reached out for them to ease up, to let him go. He made a simple “accusation”...made in a simple way and while it didn’t feel like it belonged to me technically...it did however hit a cord in my heart and I wanted to hear what he had to say.

It triggered something inside which made me stand and listen to what he had to say. His voice and words felt sincere and I wanted to prove to him that it wasn’t that simple "to take care of everyone" and so instead of seeking the safety of the land cruiser I pulled him close to me with my hand outstretched in a sign of friendship…hoping that he’d take it of course and yet at the same time I became increasingly aware, from the looks on the faces of those watching from the edges, that all of this intensity could quickly unravel into something dark. Our compound was on the other side of the village and I didn't want my team cut off from the relative safety it provided - we were "on the streets" and we had to be careful...

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Two

As he complained to me our dialogue grew louder with each point, the children now confused, just wanted me to throw however many pieces I had of the brightly coloured "starburst memories" into the air…and in this moment, amongst the background of children looking up at me and staff equally looking bewildered at my actions and wondering what to do next - as if suffering from shell shock with the noise and the kinetic energy all blending into the same set of tones. I paused for a moment. Being hyper aware of darker elements standing in the shadows nearby, I knew this could easily get out off control. So aware, looking face to face with this young guy, I sensed that showing weakness and backing away wasn’t an option for me. In all of the hyperbole everything went silent in my head in a cinematic way, like it wasn’t me standing in the circle of blowing dust but someone in a crowd that I was watching from a distance, like at a baseball game…watching to see whats going to happen next.

Suddenly it came over me…to give him the candy. Yes! Give HIM the candy!! Let HIM figure it out…let HIM know what it feels like to not be able to help everyone and in that moment, on the edge of Lake Turkana, I found myself standing in a sea of outstretched hands – completely out of control, I was without a doubt...metaphorically in deep waters.

Yelling over the noise at the top of my voice I strained to give him his options, maybe futile but I became filled with a crystal clear message that I wanted him to understand, wanted him to know that I wasn’t part of “those” which come to town to buy souvenirs, complain and leave as quickly as they came, that I wasn’t here to take advantage of anyone. To the contrary. So I continued to push my point to Felix who was confused at best…obviously this wasn’t what he’d bargained for but “school was in”…for both of us really and we were both going to get something out of this - possibly a micro lesson in development maybe with this 3’ tall huddled mass of children at my feet...“yearning to breath free”…or at the very least to get some coloured starbust dreams from my pocket.

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Three

I pushed my clenched hands out to his chest and pushed up against him yelling at the top of my voice, straining for him to hear me and without my translator, to understand me yet as I shouted and pleaded with him in the moment…at the distance my colleagues grew concerned for the growing throng that surrounded me but so far it felt okay.

“I mean you’ve got all of the treasure now Felix”...all of the candy – here take it all!!…all of the multi coloured starbust dreams and so you’re the king now….you decide now who gets to eat and who goes home with an empty stomach…!!

Holding my hand up my fingers counted out his options as the “New King” in town.

1. You eat all of the candy yourself keeping your own world fat and happy!
2. You share the 10 pieces you have with your closest friends and just push the rest away by turning your back on them
3. You line everyone up for a bit of fun and a game to let them put their life of hardship on pause…and you throw it into the sky for all to have a chance at the starbust memory and you throw it all towards the sea and watch them run and push and shove each other with squeals of laughter and tears trying to get their hands on a piece of the prize just like children everywhere

So what do you want to do Felix…its all your decision now man…whatch gonna do!??

Not quite what he expected me to do …even defiant, Felix was hopeful that he could maybe do something impossible. He wanted to give a piece of candy to every child standing and jockeying for position in the dust…pushing and shoving, Felix was soon overwhelmed and was being swayed back and forth with the movement of the children’s desire, the candy high up on his chest and I stood back a few feet and watched, myself hopeful that the object lesson I just created on the fly wouldn’t backfire and end up hitting me along side the head in some way that I’d regret…

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Four

Felix bobbed back and forth, almost held aloft by the throng of children that wanted whatever it was he had…arms outstretched to the sky, pawing at his every move…the look on his face said everything and it didn’t take long…for the test to be over. Felix struggled back towards me and said...”here!...you take it back”...”I don’t want to have to decide which is the right answer”…and with that I sighed in relief and reached out to him and took the multi coloured starburst memories back…took them all back and prepared again to line the children up for a fair run, for a bit of a game amongst the hardship they endure each and every day, at each and every meal time for the lack of basic food

There was nothing fair about any of this…I looked to the sky…letting them see my intentions and let them go, hurling the purple people eater…the orange mango…the yellow banana rama….the strawberry koolaid…the pink flamingos, all of them a dream for a child in itself and I took aim, and with a pause before the rush, a pause before the outcry…I let them fly…one after the other they left my fingers like a baseball heading for the catchers glove in another world series bout with me as pitcher…

And with that they all ran away screaming and running pushing and shoving down the beach to chase down a dream of brightly coloured candies all lost in a sea of bare feet scurrying to find the prize buried in the beach sand. However they didn’t all go running towards the waters edge. One child…one small young child stood in front of me speaking wildly…her face contorted, her hands motioning for me to give her sibling, held high in her arms…a starbust dream….just one please!

I smiled a congenial smile – shaking my head “that the cupboard was bare, that there wasn’t any left…there was no room at the inn”…for the likes of her and her younger sister. The smiles on my own face gave way to the gravity of it all. Her frown, telling me in a perfect language that she was hungry...making me bow my head that I didnt have enough, not one left to give this little waif of a girl and so for her and her little sister I had nothing to give...nothing

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Five

As the children finally scattered back to their homes…the sun almost down with dusk covering all of us like a thin piece of black velvet, complete in its ability to make things go dark yet I was still able to make out Felix in the shadows a little ways away from the pack, still surrounded with cries and laughter…and I asked him if he learned anything. He said in a quiet voice that he did, that he never wanted to have to decide who receives and who is left in the without and you could feel the gravity of the lesson learned, we all felt it…instructor, student and passers by who watched this exchange played out in front of us, between us…

But Felix I said…”what did you learn”…”what lesson did you take for your own today”. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I only had some 17 pieces of candy and the children knew from yesterday that we only had a limited amount of starbust memories…and those old enough understood the game and they accepted this, as we did, but what was the best choice Felix?

He stood in the twilight and looked at me like an expectant student who didn’t study his lessons last night, didn’t have any answers and was called on by the teacher….and so he waited for the lesson to be taught. I asked him “what was the best answer Felix” which is the best choice!? He was silent and as the group of men gathered around me we all wanted to know the answer which would soon slip from my lips

Well Felix, the lesson was that…“All of the choices were bad, all of them sucked Felix…there isn’t anything fair about it”

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Six

There wasn’t a good choice at all but its like aid work the world over Felix…there are just so many mouths to feed and only so much food to go around, so much money and only so many people who feel it deep in their hearts to play a role with their own world so filled with it's own trials and tribulations. We've all heard this before. Yet what do you do? Do you do nothing and be complacent, pleased that you alone have enough food or do you share with your elite friends the abundance of your well tended gardens or do you recognize that you can only help them one at a time…and step up and do the best you can for as many as you can.

This...is the good work Felix.

And he smiled…thanked me…acknowledged that I was older than he was (that hurt) and shook his head that he is pained with all of this…that there is never ever enough to go around and never wants to be the one to decide ever again who leaves with a starburst coloured memory, a piece of bread, the grain or flour aid organizations dole out…or who will leave empty handed, forced to endure another day with an empty stomach
In this lesson the teacher was also the student.

Felix - "The Lesson" Part Seven

While in the midst of the confusion with all of the children my team looked at me for signals that everything was ok – hoping I knew what I was doing…and yet for me there was never a lapse in my thought about what was playing out there on that solitary beach so many miles away from what may well be truck loads of starburst memories, clean water and sustaining food, delivered to other communities across the desert…development aid to help fill empty bellies, but for me it was about letting children be children…always…always…theyre ready for a game no matter what theyre conditions are and this time, this time, its the children that taught the teacher.

It was me that learned the most that starry night aside Lake Turkana, that I also have a role to play out here, to pause from my own world to use my photographic skills to help serious integrity filled organizations raise awareness to issues both simple and complex. I can do this. I have done this and I will continue without abaiting

And maybe, just maybe…the most important part lesson I learned was that they just wanted to dream a dream filled with laughter…filled with smiles and a chance to be part of something fun, of something good, if just for the moments shared running along a distant beach at sunset…laughing with their friends.

The next time I pass this way again, and I will, I’ll have more than enough starburst coloured memories for lots of races for the children along Lake Turkana. The work continues and so does the chance to create good dreams filled with love and with the promise of good things yet to come.

Meru - "Beasts of Burden"

This image portrays the immense burden that women, regardless of tribe, manage each and every day for their families survival and for some it provides a very humble means of income. In Meru, women have to deal with full sized trees instead of the lighter, high desert scrub which is found in the more Northern regions of the country. We guessed this load to have weighed over 90lbs considering that Scott, our resident Marine, couldn't lift the wood off the ground.

She had just walked over 2 miles and was nearing her home just up the road a ways where out of breath, sweating profusely, covered in tree clippings, wearing hand me down shoes and suffering from full blown Aids...she quietly smiled while dropping the burden to the ground and without stopping, without complaint she prepared for another journey to the forest and agreed to let us walk with her a ways.

It is simply inconceivable that human beings have to work so hard for so little, anywhere be it in Meru, Kenya or in the Appalachian Hills of West Virginia right here in the USA. Yet this load of wood, her second of the day, would be for sale at the market this night and she would be paid a king's ransom of one dollar and twenty five cents for her effort. Think this through for a minute. There isn't a market anywhere on this earth where $2.00 a day in your pocket is enough money to feed your family, and keep in mind that the two dollars in your hand just wasn't given to you...you still had to earn it the hard way and at times with back breaking physical work. This problem is at the heart of one of the MDG goals, striving to end critical poverty for those trying to live on less than $2.00 a day. This is what it looks like.

For this woman, the load of wood you see her carrying on her back in this image, albeit willingly each and every day, is just the burden you can see. Maybe it's not having enough money to buy a piece of goat meat this week or not being able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables or having enough education to realize where to seek social services let alone enjoying a new blouse or a fresh dress straight from the store, a vacation anywhere than here...medical care for the asking or a home with a clean bed and the money to send her children to school.

Or maybe she'd like to have something just for herself like a few of those Aids drugs she hears everyone talking about...but to be clear, I never saw this woman complain, cry under the load she was carrying nor ask me for one thin dime. Yet in simple terms the camera I made this image with would be the equivalent of her hauling wood at $2 bucks a day for 6 days a week...for the next 11 years of her life.

How did things get so out of balance. How did some of us get so much...wanting so much more while others, painfully so...have received so little.

Turkana 2 - "...young tribal leader"

This young girl, now a young woman, represents the future of her tribe - a young leader she will help to usher in new ideas for better healthcare,
new methods of drought resistant farming and will share in a strategy that will preserve the remaining forests, harvest rainwater and create new ways
to reduce fuel consumption to help aid in the survival of the tribe. The elders, the "old men", the leaders make it difficult for change to take place. It
can be the best culturally sensitive idea yet if the tribal leaders don't want it or don't agree, it will never happen. Real change from within, from it's
young men and young women, will need to be patient until the generation changes hands and with this the leadership of the tribe. Only then will
it's youth, with fresh ideas and dreams for it's future, be able to gently break from tradition - choosing a different path...to help the tribe survive.

A length of rope..."a panga and a huge heart"

At no more than 95lbs at best in weight, this proud Turkana woman walked for 4 hours to arrive at a small stand of dead trees to gather
fire wood. Without regard for herself, in what can only be described as blistering noon day sun, she began to tear the wood apart with
her bare hands, refusing to yield to sore muscles, hunger or thirst - instead focusing on the work she needed to get done and her long walk
back to her village. The sound of a single panga smacking against dense wood echos across the desert floor - determined, she needs to cut
enough to have made her journey worthwhile. This bundle she will sell tonight so it's important for her to return before dark.

Women in the nomadic North...all tribes and all faiths are locked in a test of survival with all women, young or old, culturally taking their
place in supporting their families, like their ancestors had before them. Making the drought even more acute is that the forests are disappearing
and good water is scarce. NGO's of every persuasion and from every country are seeking answers to ensure a culturally secure way of life for future generations yet to come and while it's not easy, without question there are no easy answers, like this Turkana woman...they continue, placing one
foot in front of the other with the hopes that eventually, a culturally sensitive solution will come into play.

"If they could only see...what I see..."

I've created images for development and relief throughout East Africa for nearly 11 seasons now, applying my advertising skills and cultural insight for good, in producing images that will help support programs, to help them keep going and to help keep the money coming in which enables extremely important work to continue. It's a simple reality that without funding it all grinds to a halt which is particularly frustrating to me, it's personal...given that I meet a myriad of human conditions face to face, in tough places and at times I wish that..."if only they could see what I see"...they would be a foot soldier for life in trying to be part of the solution.

However, this project...The Paradigm Project...is very different from any that I've worked on.

Before I left the states on this latest journey, a series of discussions took place on just how to make this new body of work more effective, more strategic and yet equally intimate and to effectively give it a "signature" look and feel to the photography. Different in so many ways, it still came to life like so much of my work...through hard work and by being sensitive to the images playing out in front of me. A very well known photojournalist friend of mine instructed me long ago to "shoot from my gut"...that this will yield my best work...and he was right. It all took shape that hot afternoon in the back lot of a tumble down local hotel whose owner was serving “fresh goat meat and rice” to desert travelers while a usually unseen and typically humble group of Gabbra women...became part of…became partners with me...in raising awareness to the struggles of women in East Africa’s Kenya.

Straight, pure, devoid of manipulation, Richard Avedon’s timeless work in the "American West" project provided a degree of inspiration to me for which I'm grateful. It provided a role model if you will and helped me think through the best way to bring images of these women to life. On reflection this wasn’t the end of our journey…it was simply the beginning...

"Old school ways..."

In what seemed like ages we were finished. In working through all of the women I noticed that the two youngest were missing and had gone home to eat. Due to their ages, I weighed bothering them for a brief moment yet in the end I sent part of our team to see if they’d return…if we carried their wood loads for them. A few minutes had passed before the Land Cruiser came around the corner with the two girls sitting in the front seat, wood stacked high on the roof rack with neighbors and strangers helping them with their wooden burdens, placing them once again on their backs. I was thankful for their helping us but the best way for me to show my appreciation was to get the images over as quickly as I could. They each stood in front of me…hot, tired and anxious…looking expectant and seeking direction on what to do. However, I deliberately gave them very little direction and although there was a language barrier they quickly seemed to settle into their own distinct look. I played my part and recorded the moments given to me.

As quickly as we started it was over, with everyone coming over to see the instant images of the young girls, passing "old school" Polaroids from hand to hand with all of them suspended and for that one brief moment they forgot about being thirsty or hungry. They laughed out loud together as if they were watching some kind of comedy show that they all understood and well…maybe that’s exactly what they witnessed that day. Regardless, all of the “actors” on both sides of the camera seemed to have enjoyed their moment on stage that day…

Ramat 3 - "White Sand"

"Fragile spirits held safe..."

Pressure was on and I felt it…literally…sweating enough to cause salt crystals to form at my eyelids. I worked instinctually with the film driven camera system which is so odd these days with everything being digital yet it felt so familiar in my hands after so many years of depending on it and it wasn’t any different today. It came to life even though it was covered with a fine layer of red Kenyan dust with it’s motors emitting a squeal and a whine in trying to keep up with my demands with Polaroid flying everywhere, with directions and names being shouted out - assuming someone was writing it all down while I quietly watched one fragile yet enduring spirit after another take their place in front of me.

Humble with no words spoken and their mouths tightly clenched not really knowing what I expected of them or really what I was doing. They shifted their weight to and fro until I offered up a Polaroid for them to see themselves and like Alice in Wonderland they came alive, realizing that they may have never seen themselves before and never had any attention paid to them like this and for this they stood without complaint…wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Not very different from downtown USA anywhere really.

Ramat 2 - "White Sand"

"With all the laughter spent..."

While the women were still a distance from town, I started to gather our team - breaking away from the gang of women to seek a background for what would be a formal portrait while they still have their loads on their backs. A half mile away, the town offered what seemed to be few choices until a washed out, soft aqua blue green wall caught my eye. As it happens out here, things can unwind quickly so I motioned for my driver to pull around the back of the building to be ready as the women arrive to town, asking him to see if we can get an OK from the owner of the hotel to use the wall.

All of this came together in the next 10 minutes as cases of equipment were thrown from the back of the truck to the ground in the yet still swirling dirt from the lurching land cruiser. Time wasn’t on our side today but with the location selected we started to instinctually set up the film camera system, decide about lighting and the myriad of details that go into making an image…all of which was the easy part. It’s the style of image that I needed to come to grips with and in quick order before the women arrived – assuming that the last thing they’d want to do is stand around in the noon day sun with 50lbs of wood on their back.

With time tightening, there was an old metal framed bed conveniently placed here for us I’m sure and so I pushed it out of the way to serve as our camera cart to get the gear off the ground and also to try and keep an eye on little fingers attracted to bright gleaming metal things as some 50 people began to literally surround my station as if to watch the circus that’s come to town. Well it didn’t take long for us to realize that while we were sorting out an exposure and pulling a Polaroid that well…the women all went home. Without pause, I asked the driver to see if they’d graciously come back as I needed their help one final time that day. Soon the women started to shuffle through the crowd, lumbering and sweating, their backs beginning to protest under the heavy loads they've carried back from the desert and now they stand and circle around me in silence...the smiles the songs and the laughter are all gone now, with heads bowed down they wait for me...

Ramat 1 - "White Sand"

"Sing a song of promise..."

The long dirt track back to Torbi was perfect for a few stoic images of women walking alone in such a vast landscape and so I gathered this ad hoc group together and started to walk with them back to town. Again, working the scenes in front of me, trying very hard not to slow their pace as they were now under a heavy load. However, I found it refreshing that they still had the energy to have a laugh with one another about God only knows what although I assumed that much of it was at my expense, on second thought...I know it was at my expense.

Staying close together they slowly began to sing what could only be a work song with their newly added extra weight swinging back and forth across their backs like pack animals. Their rough hands bleeding at the knuckles from hard contact with unyielding wood…their dark brown skin freshly scratched and etched from wrist to shoulder all the while holding onto rope and the odd yellow plastic container which holds a small measure of cocoa brown colored water to drink on their way back to town. Yet through all of this they sing loud and pure of heart with little indication that they’re hurt or even feel pain anymore. All such emotion is lost in the abyss of communal toil where phrases such as “All for One and One for All” prove to be just lost western words in some movie somewhere.

In this desert wasteland, admittedly home to many of Kenya's proudest nomadic tribes...you'd find little comfort in the pain they feel each and every day from not having enough food to eat or water wells that have run dry. And if the relentless suffering from the elements isn't enough for you then the threat of getting caught in the crossfire of tribal blood feuds - the unending quest for revenge, surely must be. So the sorrows of life come fast, thrown at these desert dwellers by an unfair world and yet maybe the songs sung by the women this day contain wisps of hope that maybe together…together…if only for just one moment we can get through anything...if we just stick together.

"A decisive moment..."

The women soon scattered around the high desert and so I divided our photographic coverage up with me going one way and Scott going the other. Without a doubt the women were working hard although it became apparent that they had much smaller loads to carry, much smaller pieces of wood in size and weight to gather and a much shorter distance to walk back home by virtue of their desolated outpost. No city or freeway to navigate nor free roaming elephants to worry about.

Soon they started to bundle the wood, providing me with graphic details of the materials they use such as the heavy ropes and crude axes…Their scarred hands with bejeweled fingers tying and twisting lengths of hemp to secure the load before lifting it to their shoulders. With the muffled groans of people enduring physical labor filling the air, I’m aware to not overspend my welcome. Instead I try to work at the edges quickly without engaging them to try and balance the needs of the project with the need to stay out of the way....not to push them too hard. I’m skilled at making the best images possible at a particular moment yet to be culturally sensitive and constantly aware. I need to know when to lift my camera, when to watch and when to walk away…all while constantly assessing the composition to capture images that mean something…images which aren’t disposable…

I shoot at the edges without my subject paying too much attention to me…knowing I’m there but accepting me in their midst. And when it feels right…feels right…is right…I place myself in their personal space which is where you begin to find the heart of a strong composition. This type of photography is quick yet needs to be accurate. You need to know when to cut and leave so you don’t over work the scene or the subject. I’m not a photojournalist like some of my esteemed colleagues nor am I covering hard news. So I have the luxury of being sensitive to my subject’s needs or they simply, as they do without any hesitation, utter a few unknown words, turn and walk away. You literally have zero control. So to get any image, let alone a good one, can be extremely trying. The celebrated “decisive moment” type of image when elements come together like old friends on a country road are rare and at times just appear out of the blue…almost like gifts from on high…which means you have to remain “dialed in” to your subject

International Photography Awards 2009 - 3 Honorable Mentions for the image "One Voice"

Located along the windswept Northern region of Kenya's vast Chalbi Desert...this child and his mother endure the resulting harsh conditions
from an ongoing six year drought. Water for Kenya is a critical issue which continues to take its toll on humans and beasts alike, especially
severe in the arid regions that share a common border with Ethiopia. Cattle raids and inter-tribal struggles, typically resulting in the death
of young shepherds tending their herds, have more to do with water rights than owning cattle. Little to no water, a lack of firewood for
fuel, relentless winds and a brutally scorching sun, make for a hard life leaving Kenya's tribal communities at risk...as they try to survive.
Photographed in support of The Global Food Crisis. (Location protected)

The International Photography Awards (IPA) announced its winners of the 2009 competition. We are pleased to announce that Rodney's image
"One Voice - The Global Food Crisis"...has been recognized and has been awarded...3 Honorable Mentions...in 3 professional categories in
Deeper Perspectives, Portraits and Advertising Other Ads, selected from over 18,000 submissions from 104 countries across the globe.

Three Faces of Ngero - "Rendille 2"

(continued from "Rendille 1" presented below this image)

In development work you at times have little choice but to photograph difficult subjects in difficult conditions to show that there truly is
a need which cries out to be filled. Without photographs it's not easy to assess what's happening on the other side of the planet from the
comfort of your own living room and knowing that many people don't believe what they read, photographs are our best option. I feel
it's incumbent on me, as a senior image maker, to support accuracy in my work as best I can. To present people in need with respect and
with dignity and to remind myself and the viewers of my work...that I do not own their poverty, that I'm only a conduit for their message
and it's extremely important for us to not to mess with that. Ngero graciously let me create these images of her, with her permission each
image presents a different face of just this one woman.

Each image visually different. Each image saying something special about Ngero and who she is. There isn't any way on earth you could
arrive into a desert village, unknown, and try to "take" images without asking first. You'd literally be putting yourself in harms way. I've
spent alot of time meeting people from the village, beginning with the chief - seeking his approval before I ever lifted a camera to my eye.
Nigero knew this and also what the photographs were to be used for and agreed to help me show a small part of her world and to this degree
the images created here are honest. The way I see her or the way I've created this image is more about respecting my subject than it is to
support my project yet when I've managed to create an image that is dignity filled, it's exactly the kind of image I went to create...

Three Faces of Ngero - "Rendille 1"

I've read that "you will never find real truth in a photograph" and to a degree I believe this is accurate.

As a pro photographer I can utilize so many effective skills to support my point of view which may not
have a thing to do with the truth of the moment, the project or the integrity of my subject. I can direct a
subject to smile and be happy when there's nothing to be smiling about or I can direct them to appear sombre
poor of spirit or even desperately in need...all to support again, my own way of seeing them or the situation
and this at times can be about as far away from the actual truth that you can get.

Ngero, a Rendille woman lives in Kenya's rougher than not, great Chalbi desert region where clean water,
wood for fuel and food supplies may run short and it's been this way for the past 6 years of a major drought.
Knowing I have the image making power to show people like Ngero in moments of strife...my project is about
empowering women and so I chose to present her as she truly is...a proud, intelligent, warm hearted and well
respected Muslim woman who is a leader in her village. While she doesn't enjoy an abundance of the commodities
I mentioned above, she also isn't sick or poor of spirit. So it's possible to address the needs of a project I believe
without taking advantage of both the people living in tough conditions or the people who are depending on what
they're seeing from the images I create...that the image shows part of the truth so they can decide...how to get
involved or how to help.

Development images tend to be either a "crying baby in real need" or a "young girl in a school uniform with a
big smile"...need and success...and while there will always be a need to expose harrowing conditions so that
honest people and organizations can come alongside the community and help...I believe whenever possible I will
concentrate on creating fresh, positive images about a people whenever I can and if I do my work well, you will be
able to see for yourself what is right...and what is wrong...