Priest, Asheten Maryam Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia, june 2009

Priest, Asheten Maryam Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia, june 2009

I have forgotten the name of this gentleman, but he is the priest at Asheten rock-hewn church, on the mountain above Lalibela. Here, he is shown just after locking the door to the church, which we had finished visiting.

When you photograph people in Ethiopia (and, I am told, third-world countries in general) they tend to pose very formally, as portrait-taking is a rare and formal affair for most of them. To get candid portraits, I usually spend a bit of time getting the formal-style portrait, then show them the result on the camera LCD screen, indicating that I got the photo, at which time they will usually get on with what they were doing, and I will attempt candid shots. If they start posing again (common), at this point, a hand gesture will usually be enough to indicate that they should go on with what they were doing; if not, I indulge them by taking another formal-ish shot, re-starting the process. I really like the pose and expression here, just as he turned around from the camera, just before he decided to pose again; I only wish the camera hadn’t ddecided to focus on the door, just behind him. . .

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