Travel photographer Matthieu Rivart has spent a great deal of his time travelling to some of the world's most remote places to document the beauty of vanishing cultures. These trips are his attempt to understand human nature, and to preserve its essence through photography before our world becomes less rich in cultural diversity.
The Himba tribe is one of the first indigenous tribes that Matthieu ever heard about. Living in the northern desert region of Namibia, the Himba are a semi-nomadic people whose population is estimated to be around 50,000. As this region is considered to be one of the wildest on the African continent, they have largely managed to resist modernisation.
Every time Matthieu visits the Himba, he drives through Namibia to reach Opuwo, the small capital of the Kaokoland region, which is close to the border of Angola. In Opuwo he meets a local guide, who shows him the way to the most remote villages, introduces him to the inhabitants, and also plays the role of translator between the photographer and the people.
From his own experience, Matthieu can testify that being accompanied by a good guide is the key to a successful trip. Before heading to the Himba villages, Matthieu and his guide buy food to show their gratitude to the tribe for welcoming and spending time with him. In every encounter he has, Matthieu first builds a strong link with the individual before taking a photo. He believes that a good photograph relies on a unique interaction between two people, so he has always been reluctant to give money in exchange for taking photos, as he believes that paying people prevents creating a genuine connection. He also fears that money earnt from cultural tourism could threaten the Himba's traditional way of life, as the financial incentive erodes at the culture and turns the people into objects of entertainment who are merely required to re-enact traditions for spectators.
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