Africa Diary – Day 5 – Nailing the Hamer!

At 3:00 a.m. I awaken, aware of two things; the sounds of Ethiopian Coptic Chanting, and a seriously screwed-up lower back.

Before I’ve finished breakfast Mr. Fix somehow has managed to find me a massage therapist.

Much improved by her great elbows, we drive the short distance to a traditional Hamer village, where, accompanied by Calè I immediately scout locations and talent.


One of the funnier moments of the day happened before we even start photography.  A tribesmen was making Ethiopian style bee hives in the middle of the village.  These hives resemble a long skinny drum made of tightly bound grasses.  The finished hives are suspended high in trees where bees turn them into a hive.  After some time the hive is taken down and the honey is harvested.  In contrast to the rest of the village, this craftsman wanted nothing to do with us and basically told us to take a hike.  He and Calè got into an argument, which ended with him being paid to allow us to shoot around him.



All of my equipment for this trip has been battle-proven over many shoots, with the exception of the Broncolor MOVE Outdoor Lighting Kit.  Since the product has only just come to market mine was brand new.   Sure I’ve been a proud Bron owner for years, I’d been given a thorough tutorial and had tested my new kit prior to travel, but I had not actually shot a project with it yet.  Basically the MOVE is a battery powered portable lighting kit that fits in a backpack.  It is also one of the most; elegant, smartly designed, functional products that I have ever used.  It was a dream to work with, even in the dust and heat and Goat shit of southern Ethiopia


Hammer women are beautiful, they are adorned in shells, beads, and wear a hairstyle of clay mixed with water and cow butter, it lasts a month and as the butter gets old, is interesting to stand close-to.


Today turns-out to be a great session, some of the best, most compelling subjects I’ve ever photographed, and some of my best work.

We got word from Jinka that the Mursi situation has calmed, so after we wrap, we head straightback, 128km, with an extra passenger.  We are giving Calè a ride to Addis Ababa so he can meet a friend at the airport on Saturday.  In return he has agreed to be part of our crew for the duration.

Back in Jinka same drill – recharge batteries, back-up files.

We finish the day with a traditional Ethiopian dinner just up the street at Gojo restaurant, and discuss  Mursi tomorrow


  1. My biggest question to you my friend, is not your photographic process,
    (I know you’re a master), is are you breathing the poverty? Breathe it,
    and let the true gratitude of the opportunity of your life sink in.
    This happened to me in Nepal. Each day I encountered villagers who
    possessed absolutely nothing. All they could do is smile, and offer
    a cup of tea to me to sit with them. I wanted to know what was in the
    tea. This simple happiness tea was not available in the USA

    • Dermot

      Yes, absolutely. I was and am fully aware of the very fortunate situation that I am in. It was inspiring to see happy people regardless of how much, or how little they had.

  2. PhotoAD

    Would love to see more from this day!