IT'S A VERY SMALL WORLD...
LAKE NATRON, EAST AFRICA
When I decided to visit East Africa, a fine art project was on my mind. After one day in the Ngorongoro region, my focus shifted toward poaching.
I met Pay (pronounced "Pie" or sometimes called Johnson Mbaryo), a game ranger from the Sonjo tribe, who was working as a game ranger stopping poachers at Manyara National Park. He was our guide at first, then he became a close friend and accompanied us, often helping to navigate sometimes-deadly terrain, hungry wildlife and tribal disputes.
Pay is from a mountain village in the Ngorongoro region. He went to school in Tanzania to be a naturalist, working to preserve the beautiful land of his family and his ancestors.
We were so thankful to have Pay by our side, especially as a "local" who was familiar with the unique politics and culture of the tribes we encountered. He was able to introduce us to friends in the Sonjo tribe who would become the subject of my portrait series. He also helped communicate with them about my photography equipment.
For individuals who were wary of cameras, being able to give them an instant polaroid from my Hasselblad was an immediate icebreaker. They were fascinated with the photographs, and for some of them it may be the only printed image of them and their family they will ever have.
I was able to document a portion of the incredible stories from this trip in my East Africa project, but a return trip is definitely in the works!