In photo: Portraits taken by German photographer Mario Gerth in Angola, Kenya and Ethiopia.
A part-time banker and photojournalist, Gerth has traveled to over 60 countries, extensively taking portraits of various ethnic groups throughout parts of Africa.
In my exposure to the work of Gerth and other Western photographers like him, such as Sam Barker, Joey Lawrence and Eric Lafforgue, I’ve often wondered what motivates these individuals to select these specific groups of people to document. Often times the same ethnic groups seem to be chosen over and over again. More importantly, the relationship between those pictured and those behind the lens more than raises my curiosity. Questions of power, agency, framing and history often swirl in my mind when I come across project such as these, no matter how beautiful they seem. It would be interesting to see a documentary that both revealed and dissected this process and see how these communities are affected by it.
Are these photos birthed out of fascination for the ‘other’, or the preservation of at risk communities?