This gallery by the photographer Trevor Cole consists of a number of portraits taken in Ethiopia, Somaliland and Namibia. Trevor has a passion for indigenous people and how they live in such a connected way to their environment.
Portraiture is something that enables Trevor to see the person and relate to them. He feels that photography should be an interactive moment that captures the subject and offers an insight into their character. He aims for his images to portray a feeling or a connection, or perhaps even summon empathy.
As a result, some of his images are candid and spontaneous, while others may be posed but seek to expose an inimitable moment nevertheless. Trevor sees beauty in all, and he finds life lines in the old, as well as the innocence of youth, enticing. He also seeks to somehow convey the ways in which people live, as well as their cultures and traditions. He feels that a portrait can reveal a hardship or a happiness, and he has often noticed strikingly similar traits in communities, due to numerous environmental factors as well as genetics. Trevor endeavours to capture these common characteristics through alternative perspectives.
Trevor believes that taking portraits of people in the marketplace, street or in a tribal village requires interaction. At times he discretely takes clandestine shots with a longer lens, but most of the time he likes to get to know whomever he is photographing. When it comes to portraiture, he always asks for permission and, if rejected, he respects personal choices, which may be based on conservative cultural or religious beliefs. However, in his experience, he does often find that spending a little time and using a little humour can yield a positive response.
Trevor notes that photographing tribal people requires a different approach. For example, a good guide is vital when it comes to photographing the Himba in Namibia. He has found that taking some provisions to the village and presenting them to the headman makes a huge difference and enables a very friendly atmosphere that involves the whole village. Whereas he has encountered a different ballgame in Ethiopia where there is the additional precedent of paying villages and/or individuals. However, Trevor always prefers to give to the village instead of a person because he feels that otherwise there is a tendency to favour the most photogenic!
Trevor is very sensitive to the impacts that tourism can have, so he will always try to avoid treating a village like a zoo. He feels that it is all a delicate balance and a good guide can help to decide how best to go about things. For example, when he stayed in a Suri village, he simply wandered around without a camera in order to become a familiar sight as he believes that interaction is what can make the moment count. And in that moment he wants to capture light, colour, emotion, character and spirit. He tries to shoot in the golden hours or at least where there is shade from the intense African sun. In the right light, at the right time, with the right connection, Trevor believes that the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and that is something he strives for in his work.
Just click on the 'Next' button above each image to see the beauty in the faces of Africa, and head to the last page of this gallery to find out more about this talented photographer.
Cover image of a Suri tribesgirl at a wedding ceremony in the Kibish region of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.