Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sahel: Wodaabe Nomad Woman


Wodaabe Nomad girl of Niger’s Sahel. All dressed up, she is standing among the spectators of a yakey dance, which is at once a male beauty contest between clans.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sahel: Wodaabe Nomad Woman


Wodaabe Nomad girl of Niger’s Sahel. All dressed up, she is standing among the spectators of a yakey dance, which is at once a male beauty contest between clans.
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Sahel: Wodaabe Nomad Girl


Wodaabe Nomad girl of Niger’s Sahel. All dressed up, she is standing among the spectators of a yakey dance, which is at once a male beauty contest between clans.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Indian



Yanomami man of Brazil’s Amazon rain
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Man


Yanomami man of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest laughing under the cover of a piece of anteater’s fur. A wad of chewing tobacco shows through his open mouth, and a tiny white feather sticks to his chin.
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Man

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Yanomami man of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. A wad of chewing tobacco keeps his mouth open.
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Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Woman

 

Yanomami Woman of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. Aren’t her eyes heavy with wisdom?
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Woman


Yanomami woman of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest.

In 1982 I spent a month sharing her people’s lives and a place at one of their fires for my hammock.

Though the Yanomami look primitive, they have a keen sense of humor and are in no way less intelligent than us. They know good from bad and could teach many of us how to better raise our children. They could teach us many things, even if we have more to teach them.


What surprised me most of the Yanomami was not their apparent differences, but how much like us they really are. Though they lived isolated for hundreds or thousands of years, and were first contacted only in the 1950s, I saw among them all the characters we deal with every day in our own world.  The leader, the politician, the mediator, the actor, the bully, the clown, the inventor, the philosopher, the artist, and even the paper shuffler. They only needed the clothes, the tools, and the right surroundings  to look the part.
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

How A First Camera at 18 Led Me To A Life Of Adventurous Travels And Enriching Experiences



At 18, looking ahead to a long exciting life.



Today, much of that life is behind me. Not so my quest for the lesser-known members of our fascinating humanity.
--

Once, in what now seems like another life, a friend lent me the money to buy a camera--a small Kodak Retina with a fixed 50mm lens.  He used it to take this picture of me. I was 18 and obviously happy, as if I knew the wonderful turn photography would give my life, years later, far from my native Belgium. But I knew not, of course. And it was just as well, for I would have to beat worse odds than I could ever imagine, starting with the need to self-educate.

This friend had been my scout master until, at 15, I was forced to leave school and the boy scouts to go work 12 hours a day, often with no days off.
He used a Leica to shoot action pictures that thrilled me. Besides helping me to buy my first camera he spent two days teaching me the basics of photography. I quit my job to free myself for this opportunity.

I wonder sometimes what direction my life would have taken, had that loan not been offered. For life is a net of possible paths, every one leading in a different direction. To excitement or boredom. To success or failure. To happy or failed marriage. To longevity or early death... And we rarely know which path is best before having followed it for a while, sometimes too far. But I was lucky. I did not know it, but that precious little Kodak Retina was the first of many steps that would lead to a life of wonderful, though sometimes dangerous, adventures in Africa, Asia, and South America.

At 21, after two years of military service as a sergeant in Occupied Germany, I worked on a ship bound for the Belgian Congo. There, spending my only two free days on land photographing the natives, I had an epiphany. As a kid I had dreamed of becoming an explorer. Since then, having learned that the world no longer needed explorers, I had cursed the fate that had brought me to this world too late. But now photography, I thought, could help me live the explorer’s life. I would seek out the little-known regions of the world and their intriguing people with a camera and a pen. I would produce magazine stories and books. I had no idea how difficult that would be, but I was ready for a conquest.

To start, I needed money. And luck this time arrived with a Sabena Airlines three-year contract in Congo, where my salary would triple what I earned in Brussels. I was 22, and got married before leaving.

At 24, having rebelled against an injustice, I lost my job and was flown back to Brussels with my wife and a Vespa 125 cc I owned. Three months later, now the proud owner of a Leica M3 and two lenses, I mounted my Vespa and rode it all the way to Cape Town, through the length of Africa and across an Algeria at war with France. It was not an intelligent idea, but that’s what occurred to me then. My naïve plans were to write a book about that adventure. I had read many travel books and thought I could write one too. And in my mind that book would pave my way to more adventures.

That 1957 journey, along nightmarish trails rarely traveled by other vehicles, was lonely. Especially when my Vespa stopped working, and help, in the middle of nowhere, could take two days to arrive. Sand, rocks, and later the mud of a rainy season constantly catapulted me over my handle bar. To protect my tiny capital, I ate at indigenous markets and slept under the stars, occasionally pulled out of my sleep by prowling wild animals. Wildlife was abundant in Africa. Much more so than people.

On my return to Brussels the Vespa Company invited me to speak at a press conference it convened in my honor. In exchange for the 125 cc beat-up Vespa, which the company would exhibit around Europe, it offered me a brand new 150 cc Vespa, which I accepted.

I enjoyed a moment of fame, and a magazine editor approached me, interested in reading my story. But he found it unpublishable. I did not know where to seek editing help and the story was not published, except for free in several installments of a Vespa Club magazine (recently, I also told it in a memoir, which is in the hands of Neil Soderstrom, my agent). But nothing was lost. The Vespa journey had taught me much of what I would need to succeed later.
    
For now, I realized that, as a solo traveler, I would have to learn not only to shoot better pictures, but also to write better. I would eventually learn to write for publication not only in my native French, but also in English and Spanish
(25 years later, while living in Colombia, I would self-publish nine photo books on that country).

http://victorenglebert.photoshelter.com/gallery/My-Photo-Books/G0000dR9HYikKM1E/

The next six years brought me different kinds of adventures. First two kids. Then Immigration with my family to Montreal and, 15 months later, to New York. But my focus remained unchanged. Sleeping only five or six hours a night, I worked two jobs the whole time, always to earn enough to pay for another cheap African journey.

I was finally ready for it in 1963. I was 30. This time my wife would not let me go alone, and my father-in-law thought aloud that I was a boy scout who would never grow up. We hitchhiked from Algiers to the coast of Benin and back, and hired some Tuareg nomads to guide us through the Sahara on a month-long camel journey between Niger and Algeria.

Venture magazine gave my story its cover and ten pages. Argosy magazine, a photo agency, and other photo buyers paid me enough extra money for the use of my photography that I more than recovered the journey’s modest expenses and extra photographic gear I had purchased before leaving.

National Geographic had also shown interest in my story. But I had shot it in black and white, and its editors had recently decided to go all color. They hesitated a whole year, but in the end decided against making a last exception. So I persuaded them to let me ride with a Sahara salt caravan, which they accepted. The story made the cover of their November 1965 issue. It also spread over 16 pages of Paris-Match magazine and covered more than half the pages of a French book on the Sahara.

This sudden success started many decades of other adventurous travel assignments, for those two magazines as well as many others, besides books.
I would eventually document the cultures of some 30 indigenous people in three continents, sharing their lives for weeks or months each time, and learning that below the surface humanity is one big family.

I taught this to my children by taking them to many of my favorite places, including a five-month trans-African jeep journey:


http://victorenglebertphotography.blogspot.com/search?q=+trans-african+

Amazon Rain Forest: Yanomami Warrior


Yanomami Indian of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest holding a bow and arrows. His hair is covered with bird down
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sahel: Tuareg Girl Waiting Out The Midday Heat


Overwhelmed by Niger’s Sahel midday heat, a Tuareg girl of the Illebakan vassal caste rests under her family’s leather tent. Like carbon paper, the indigo of her clothes has colored her skin.
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Sahel: Tuareg Madonna


Tuareg woman sitting inside her tent near Tchin Tabaraden in Niger’s Sahel.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sahel: Sensual High-Caste Tuareg Woman


Tuareg women don’t hide behind veils of false modesty. They look men straight in the eyes. Though Moslem, they belong to a Berber matriarchal society that gives them rights equal to those of men, and then some.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Sahel: High-Caste Tuareg Women Enjoy A Priviledged Life



High-caste Tuareg women resting inside a leather tent in Niger's Sahel. Male and female servants do the work.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sahara: Noble Kel Rela Tuareg Man And Daughter Inside Tent


The blinding sun is burning out Niger’s Sahara Desert behind a Tuareg man and his daughter, of the noble Kel Rela tribe, resting under their leather tent. The girl’s mother died giving her birth and her father raised her, often nursing her from the saddle of his camel. They developed an exceptional bond.

Sahara: Midday Nap Under A Tuareg Tent


Out of the scorching midday sun of Niger’s Sahara’s Tamesna region, a Tuareg man and his  baby take a nap under their leather tent.
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Sahara: Resting Tuareg Mother And Daughter


The midday heat of Niger’s Sahel chased a Tuareg mother and daughter under their leather tent for a nap, the mother on her bed, her daughter on the sand.  Their arms are dyed dark blue from shiny pieces of clothing, like the girl's indigo head dress, whose color comes off as if from carbon paper.
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Colombia: Noanama Boy Under The Spell Of A Forest Vault


While his father went into the forest to get some plantain bananas, this Noanama boy feeds his patience studying Colombia’s Choco rain forest’s canopy.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Colombia: Loving Noanama Couple Of The Chocó Rain Forest


In a tight embrace, a loving Noanama couple is watching the Docordó River flow below from the height of their stilted hut in Colombia’s Chocó  rain forest
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Colombia: Kuna Mother And Daughter


Kuna Indian mother and daughter sitting in a hammock inside their hut in Colombia’s Choco rain forest along the Gulf of Uraba.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Colombia: Atrato River Market At Quibdo


Plantain, manioc, sugarcane, coconuts, and pineapples are changing hands in Quibdo, at an Afro-American market on the Atrato River in Colombia’s Choco, a rain forest region and department bordering  the Pacific Coast.
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Colombia: Atrato River Market At Quibdo


 Plantain, manioc; sugarcane, coconuts, and pineapples are changing hands in  Quibdo, at an Afro-American market on the Atrato River in Colombia’s Choco, a rain forest region and department bordering the Pacific Coast.
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Colombia: Market Day Activity At Puerto Tejada

In this 1974 photograph, Colombia’s Puerto Tejada’s market activity , in the Cauca Department, is spilling over surrounding streets.
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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ethiopia: Asaita Street Scene


In Asaita, a village of Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, a pack camel tied to a dilapidated truck awaits its Danakil nomad master patiently. The man is buying a few things in one of the shops surrounding the central square. The houses are all built of lava blocks.
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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ethiopia: Danakil Council Under A Lava Rock


In Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, a small group of Danakil nomads holds a council under a rock. One of the men holds a goat by a rope.
     The Danakil Depression, part of the Great Rift Valley, is the world’s hottest region. It’s an inferno of active volcanoes, black lava fields as far as the eyes can see, vast salt lakes, and sulfur sources whose oxidation from yellow to green and brown are among this phenomenon’s few colors. And yet, it is of gripping beauty.
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Niger: Wodaabe Nomads’ Love For Their Cattle Is Reciprocated


The Wodaabe nomads of Niger’s Sahel treat and love their zebus like pets, giving each of them a name. They raise them for status, not for the butcher. Which is why this cow acts like a dog, licking its owner. Like dogs, too, Wodaabe zebus follow their owners on the march like children following a teacher. They cause no need to be prodded from behind.
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Algeria: Biskra Street Scene

Algeria’s Biskra’s deep shade that hid me while I shot the 1969 picture of my last post allowed me this second shot.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Algeria: Biskra's light And Shadow


Street scene in Algeria’s Biskra.
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Algeria: A Ghardaia Oasis Busy Street

While the Sahara Desert’s sun shines brightly outside, a street of Algeria’s Ghardaia Oasis is shaded by wide pieces of fabric stretching between walls. The blue sky bathes the street in its own color.
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Algerian Sahara: Irrigating A Palm Grove

 In Algeria’s Kerzaz Oasis, a Harratin man pulls water from a deep well with a bucket balanced by poles weighed down with stones at their ends. He pours the water into a metallic canal that irrigates the palm grove surrounding him.
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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Algeria. Shawia Berber Courtyard in Aurès Mountains


A courtyard separates several Shawia Berber houses in Algeria’s Aurès Mountains, part of the Saharan Atlas.
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Algeria: Magnificent Sahara

Ahaggar Mountains in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, the perfect region to find one's soul. Once, for a month, I explored it on a camel with a Tuareg companion.
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Chad: N’Djamena Bazaar


A 1973 photograph of N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. A man drops a coin in the hand of a seated beggar. Bazaar shops are shaded from the scorching sun by covered walkways.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Indonesia: Prambanan Hindu Temple At Dusk



The blue light of dusk bathes Prambanan, a ninth-century Hindu temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site near Jogjakarta, in Indonesia’s Java Island. A volcano looms in the distance.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Indonesian Borneo: A Wet Village Along The Kapuas River



A mosque overlooks the village of Selimbau along the Kapuas River, in Indonesia’s Borneo, known as Kalimantan. There were no roads there, in 1968, only rivers and the surrounding leech-infested rain forest.
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Ghana: Ashanti Schoolchildren Praying Before Classes

In Adukrom, near Kumasi, Ghana, Ashanti children, most of them in brown and yellow uniforms, pray before entering classes. Some of them are holding pencils.
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Ghana: Girls Carrying Own Chairs To School




Many years ago, when I shot this picture in Adukrom, an Ashanti village near Kumasi, the local school’s classes had benches but no chairs. Each morning, soon after dawn, children in school uniforms carried their own chairs to school on their heads. A boy in the background is taking a bucket shower. Outside school, a woman sold the kids breakfast at a price the kids’ parents could afford. 
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