Kenyan Stories

Everything from the humble woodlouse to specks of dust moving through a ray of sunlight. Each tells a story. ~ Fennel Hudson

With my camera, I try to bring the diversity of distant lands into our modern world, and share the stories I discover in my travels ; to create imagery that reminds us and generations to come how beautiful and diverse the world is. Our challenge now will be to keep the poetry of diversity alive…kenya_red_ambo-256 new sky Kenya_2015_red_-1903 Kenya_2015_red_-1907 Kenya_2015_red_-2120 Kenya_2015_red_-2172 kenya_red_ambo-234 kenya_red_ambo-236

In Kenya, the Maasai and Samburu warriors rite of passage used to be pretty standard: Spend three months in the forest, learn how to herd cows, kill a predator.

“Some years back, for you to become a chief, you had to kill a lion. But conservationists came in and stopped the killing,” explains Mtaine David Swakei, a Maasai leader.

Now dance is part of what defines the ancient tribes of modern Kenya, the “adumu”, or “jumping dance”.

It’s been captured in endless pictures and documentaries; and is a recognizable ritual of Maasai and Samburu life. On this day the young men performed a version of it for us. The adumu is just one in a series of rituals that make up the Eunoto, the ceremony in which the junior warriors, or morani, graduate to the ranks of manhood.

Magical Communion -Professional Photographer Magazine Feature!

Magical Communion -Professional Photographer Magazine Feature!

Excited to be the featured photographer in the February 2016 edition of Professional Photographer Magazine (a 6 page spread!)

MAGICAL COMMUNION   One friend told her she was crazy; another said she was insane. Others were even less kind. “I didn’t really blame them for telling me I was nutty to travel to Niger in West Africa in 2013,” says Manhattan- based Terri Gold. “After all, Ebola had recently broken out and the U.S. State Department was warning against traveling to much of the country.” The Peace Corps and other NGOs had already pulled out of Niger due to threats from extremist groups such as Boko Haram. But Gold was unfazed. The globetrotting photographer had already traveled to Rajasthan, India; the Omo Valley, Ethiopia; Lhasa, Tibet; Kham, China, and a slew of other hard-to-reach, often dangerous places to document what she calls “cross-cultural moments in time” and “the unguarded moment.” Ever since she’d seen photographer Carol Beckwith’s 1983 book, “Nomads of the Niger,” she’d wanted to visit the landlocked country, hoping to photograph the Wodaabe nomads as they celebrate their annual weeklong courtship ritual, the Guerewol Festival. “I’m pretty stubborn once I’ve set my mind on doing something,” explains Gold. “Besides, this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip.”

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.01.36GREATER RISK, GREATER REWARD   That said, an email from the trip’s Africabased organizer did give her pause. “She was writing to reassure us,” remembers Gold, who planned to travel to Niger with two other photographers. “She told us, ‘Don’t worry. We will have 20 armed guards with .50 caliber machine guns to accompany us, and it would take a multi-vehicle convoy to attack us.’” Gold pauses and adds, “We talked about calling off the trip but this was too good an adventure to cancel.” Her persistence and courage paid off. The remarkable images she captured during her three-week adventure have earned her numerous national and international awards and have been reprinted in online media, including the Huffington Post and the BBC. But more important to Gold is that they’re the latest contributions to her lifework, a yet-to-bepublished series of ritual and celebration photographs she’s made all around the world, dubbed “Still Points in a Turning World.” The collection’s T.S. Eliott-inspired title refers to rituals and moments that tie all people together, she says. Gold began her photography career shooting weddings and was intrigued by how vulnerable people acted during what she calls “grace moments.” “I loved capturing people’s emotions and how they were feeling during these special, unguarded moments,” she says. “I am not showcasing otherness, but rather providing a window on our common humanity.” Gold has exibited her work in Spain, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Colorado, Vermont and at the Annenberg Space for Photography. She’s preparing for more exhibitions this year. Recent awards include the International Photography Awards, Prix de la Photographie Paris, Humanity Photo Awards, and the Black and White Spider Awards.

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.01.58UNDER THE SPELL    Since childhood, Gold has been fascinated by explorers such as Mary Kingsley, Isabella Bird, and Alexandra David-Neel, intrepid women who traveled to foreign lands to report on cultures and traditions. When Gold herself began traveling, first to Asia in the late 1980s, she noticed a common humanity among various cultures. “While we may have our bar mitzvah, a foreign tribe may have a bull jumping ceremony,” Gold says. “These rituals look different, but the values are the same. We laugh and cry at the same things. I wanted to try to capture that on film.” She began visiting parts of the world that fired her Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.02.11imagination and brought along her camera gear. “While friends were going to Paris or London, I was more interested in setting off for those curious corners of the world, such as Timbuktu or Rajasthan—places that seemed to me to be steeped in mystery and intrigue.” She admits these self-assigned trips could be expensive, but because she has no children to support, “I am free to follow my own passion.” That passion included a desire to highlight the mysterious side—what she terms “the magic realism”—of the places she visited. She’s long used infrared film and knew it could give her that special quality she sought. “I like the way infrared pierces the veil; it has an invisible iridescent quality, a shimmer to it. It illuminates another dimension,” says Gold. “I thought it was the perfect film for these parts of the world where there is so much mystery.” Using infrared harkened back to her days as a lith printer, a process she learned at Manhattan’s International Center of Photography in the 1990s. “With lith printing no two prints were the same,” says Gold. “I liked the sense of discovery it offered. It was always a dance in the darkroom.” Infrared film offers her a similar surprise element. “Infrared gives you the mysterious right away. It also sees things you don’t see,” says Gold. “You don’t know exactly where the colors are going to fall. For example, you do know the green leaves are going to turn slightly white but it all depends on how the sun is hitting the leaves. It’s the same with water. It’s impossible to pre-visualize with infrared. “Many of my early photography mentors talked about the necessity of pre-visualizing your work, but that did not work for me. I want to go on a journey with my photographs and want to be surprised. I love the unexpected.”

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.02.25Inspired by a friend’s photograph that had been painted, Gold began painting on her own prints, often adding encaustic wax. She sometimes uses extensive post-processing and is fond of split toning. “Taking pictures is just the beginning for me,” says Gold. In the pre-digital days Gold had to carry four to five cameras—everything from several 35mm cameras loaded with regular and infrared film to a Mamiya and a Hasselblad and film changing bags. “I would freak out at airports and beg the customs people not to open my infrared film canisters. Now it’s a lot easier, and I travel with converted infrared digital cameras.” She usually carries a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. “Digital has freed me up so much,” says Gold. “I have more freedom in aperture, exposure, and shutter speed. And now for the first time with infrared I can get some idea of what I am shooting.” Gold captures almost all her subjects in infrared but admits, “It doesn’t always work. I know it has its limitations, but I always give it a try. I always also have a color camera along with me.” If making memorable photography is about capturing a moment, then Terri Gold’s trip to Niger is a life lesson in the importance of making those moments happen. As she readily admits, it would have been very easy for her to cancel her trip because of all the perceived dangers. “In fact, a week or so after we left Niger, al-Qaeda rebels spilled over into the country from Libya,” she says. “If we had cancelled or delayed our trip, we never would have gotten back there.” But she didn’t cancel. She braved 110-plus degree Fahrenheit heat to document a ceremony in one of the world’s most remote deserts and returned with powerful images. For all the travel warnings, her trip went smoothly. “Any worries about violence and unrest disappeared during our time amongst the welcoming Wodaabe, especially when we camped under a tapestry of the Milky Way accompanied by the chanting of the nomads and the lullabies of their animal herds.” While she hesitates to describe herself as brave, she says she now understands completely the Wodaabe adage she learned on her trip: Who cannot bear the smoke will never get to the fire. • terrigoldworldimagery.com

Robert Kiener is a writer based in Vermont.

 

Black and White Spider Awards 2015 Winner

The 10th Annual Black and White Spider Awards has selected two of my images as winners in the 2015 juried selection!

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Preparing for the Gerewol Festival

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Tuareg Nomad Teatime

10TH ANNUAL BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS HONORS PHOTOGRAPHER TERRI GOLD FROM THE UNITED STATES

LOS ANGELES December 15, 2015 – Professional photographer Terri Gold of The United States was presented with the 10th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Honorable Mention in the category of Portrait at a prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow webcast Saturday, November 21, 2015.

The live online gala was attended by over 10,000 photography fans around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the industry’s most important event for black and white photography.

10th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from Bonhams, Random House, Aeroplastics Contemporary, Stockholm City Museum, Annenberg Foundation, Leo Burnett, FTM Art Advisory and Fratelli Alinari who honored Spider Fellows with 505 coveted title awards in 31 categories.

BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography.

View the entire gallery of images at thespiderawards.com

 

 

Nomads In Niger on BBC Picture Desk

Images from my Nomads In Niger series are now featured on The BBC Picture Desk.

TerriGold_NomadsInNiger_19“I was blessed to share time with this incredibly unique group of people and to learn about their cultural traditions, communal values and ethical perspectives”

I see more than ever the importance of sharing our stories to gain a deeper understanding of the timeless past and the imminent future. The cultural diversity of our planet  is where our greatest creativity lies. Our challenge now is to keep the poetry of diversity alive…

The BBC feature can be viewed here.

feature shoot – Photographer gains Once-In-A-Lifetime Access ToThe Festival Of Niger’s Nomadic Tribes

Feature shoot

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So happy to have work presented on the Feature shoot blog today. Link to the full article here

http://www.featureshoot.com/2015/07/photographer-gains-once-in-a-lifetime-access-to-the-festival-of-nigers-nomadic-tribes/

When rainfall quenches the bone-dry terrain of Southern Niger, says New York-based travel photographer Terri Gold, a thousand Wodaabe nomads, along with thousands of their treasured animals, coverage across the desert in celebration of the The Guérewol Festival. As part of the weeklong event, the men dress in traditional finery, adorn their faces in paint, and perform for hours in hopes of winning the admiration of a set of young women judges. After braving the 110 degree heat in search of the merrymaking, Gold at last happened upon Guérewol after weeks of anticipation. 

Niger has hosted no tourism for the better part of the last decade, explains the photographer, who embarked on her journey with three additional women. Because of the political surroundings and the threat of al Qaeda members coming in from Libya, she was flanked by eighteen armed guards who bore automatic rifles in hands; the trucks in which she traveled were outfitted with fifty millimeter machine guns. Drawn initially to Niger by the work of fellow photographer Carol Beckwith, Gold was guided by The Nomad Foundation’s Leslie Clark, who took them from the city of Agadez, where the mud brick mosque of 1515 still stands, and into the desert.

Because the Wodaabe tribes are spread out across the land, Gold and her companions had no way of knowing precisely when they would convene for the annual festival. The Wodaabe are governed by the whims of the Sahel; they follow in the footsteps of their goats, camels, donkeys, sheep, and cattle in pursuit of the water sources that change continuously with the seasons. Life for the nomad is treacherous and each is exposed to the brutal elements, and yet for Gold, this is part of the beauty of the Wodaabe. Their philosophies are founded on both the bitterness of their struggle and the abounding rewards of their perseverance. The photographer repeats the Wodaabe adage, “Who cannot bear the smoke will never get to the fire”.

Only in the season of rain are they able to converge as a community, to find lovers, and to carry out age-old customs. Guérewol, suggests Gold, is a joyous sight, filled with laughter, singing, and dance. One the men have dressed up and performed for the women, winners are chosen based on strength, stamina, and beauty. They bear a cloth that covers the lower half of the body, embellished belts, and headdresses ornamented with feathers, all of which create the effect of great height. As the sun beats down upon them, they endure until at last the women advance and make their picks.

Though al Qaeda groups were to enter the area only days after Gold had departed, she admits that violence and unrest seemed far away during her time amongst the nomads; all fears were secured and hushed when she lay “camping under a tapestry of one hundred thousand stars accompanied by the lullabies of the animal herds.”

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The Travel Photographer | The Nomads Of Niger

I am happy to be featured on my friend Tewfic El-Sawy’s informative and inspiring travel  photography blog.

http://thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2015/01/terri-gold-nomads-of-niger.html

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 The Travel Photographer.Infrared photography and off-the-beaten path nomadic people…this is exactly what photographer Terri Gold features in her new Nomads in Niger gallery.

She photographed the Wodaabe; nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, who periodically migrate from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad, and the western region of the Central African Republic. The number of Wodaabe is estimated to be 100,000 and are widely known for their beauty, elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies.

Terri tells me there has been no tourism in Niger for 6 years now, and her photography group numbered less than five. The Wodaabe festival she attended had no fixed date, so it was a matter of crossing fingers and being patient. Her group had to have 18 guards armed with Kalashnikovs and a 50 mm machine gun on each truck.

The Guérewol festival is an annual courtship ritual competition among the Wodaabes, when young men dressed in elaborate ornamentation and made up in traditional face painting gather in lines to dance and sing, vying for the attentions of marriageable young women.

Terri Gold is an award-winning photographer and artist based in New York City, and has built an impressive reputation for her infrared imagery of rituals, rites of passage, festivals, celebrations and portraits from all over the world.

Her artistic creativity and energy were patently obvious during my Tribes of South Rajasthan & Kutch Photo~Expedition™which she had joined in January 2010, as she moved from one photo shoot in a village to the next photographing with her two cameras; one “normal” like those used by the rest of us, and the second professionally modified to shoot infrared.