Esam Hassanyeh, Hamer Tribe, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Portrait of Dera Kore.
I had set up a studio in a school hut. There were about 35 people in the small hot room all waiting to be photographed when I spotted Dera Kore so I asked her mothers' permission to photograph her.
However, Dera was so nervous in all of the chaos that it took her mother some persuasion to get her to sit. Naturally Dera looked so uncomfortable in the first few shots so I asked another child to pose. Later I asked Dera's mother if she could sit again. There was something about Dera's look that I just had to photograph.
The room was noisy and filled with excitement but Dera just sat there in the pose that I had arrange and did not move a muscle. I was transfixed by her stare so I did not dare to move her. I was also intensely focusing on the lighting and trying to get people to be quiet so I could shoot. After the first 8 clicks or so my guide gently tapped me on the shoulder and said "her eyes are filled with water and she is about to cry".
With all the chaos going on I had not even noticed....for Dera did not move or make a sound. I immediately stopped shooting....whilst I had taken a few other shots, this image captured was of her first tear. It was the only image taken of her crying before I stopped.
To me this image is not about emotion or drama but simply represents all that is Hamer.
The Hamer have such an incredible culture based on honour, duty and respect. The elders lead by example and others follow with duty and pride.
Dera had been told to sit and pose by her mother so she did. Her own fears were of no importance to her. All she did was to follow her mothers instructions.
The Hamer people do not record their age or birth date as it is of no importance to them. However, Dera must be about 10 years old. How can a child so young act with such dignity and obedience in fear...