In March 2014, I started my first personal photography project in Ethiopia. However, the seeds had long been sewn back in 2010. Having been born in Africa (Sierra Leone), I always wanted this beautiful continent to be the subject of my first photography project. Early in 2010, I visited Ethiopia with friends from Dubai (one of them is Ethiopian) and as part of our trip, we did a 5-day tour to the south of the country. Travelling down through the rift valley, we visited various places that included villages and lakes. I was taken back at Ethiopia’s contrasting landscape, stunning scenery, ancient culture and beautiful people.
Whilst it was an incredible holiday adventure and we visited some small tribal communities, I felt that this experience was for tourists and that there was a deeper, more authentic side of Ethiopia to explore. This was the kind of vision that I had for my personal photography project.
For the next 4 years I worked hard to develop my technical and creative photographic capabilities as photography was still only a passion at that time. Then in March 2014 I decided I was finally ready to return to Ethiopia and start an on-going personal photography project with the incredible tribal people of Ethiopia.
So I returned alone with one simple condition. I playfully told my guide (and now friend) that I wanted to go to a place where no tourist or white men had ever gone before. But I was serious. I wanted to find a remote tribal community, stay amongst them and document them through fine art portrait photography. This journey was to be a unique life experience, but not just to explore and develop my creative side, but also to explore and develop my spiritual side too.
My guide has been taking tourists down to the Lower Omo Valley to explore the tribes for over 16 years now. Whilst he had been to most places in Ethiopia, even he had never been to this remote area before. It sounded perfect.
I shot this short video during my 2nd trip to this region in September 2015…I will post more articles about the Hamer people including how I photograph them in future posts.
To view more images of the Hamer Tribe visit my web esam hassanyeh