This photograph is from the series Omo: Expressions of a People, taken during an excursion through Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and recognized by scientists as the cradle of humankind, this dust-blown area is home to a diverse mix of indigenous cultures, including Suri, Hamar and Nyangatom. The people of the region share a semi-nomadic way of life that has, thanks to their independent spirit and geographic isolation, changed relatively little over the centuries. Coming-of-age initiations, marriage rites, cattle herding—society in the Omo is still organized around these essential practices. This image shows a young Suri boy carrying a goat on his shoulders, as people in this region have depended on livestock for their survival for centuries. Children, especially boys, are often given important responsibilities regarding goat and cattle herding, and these dominate much of their childhood and daily tasks.
Drew Doggett has made a name for himself in the documentary and fine art world with his photography of some of the planet’s most unique and isolated indigenous cultures. His 2009 solo trip to the isolated Himalayan area of Humla, Nepal, resulted in a book, Slow Road to China, and six gallery exhibitions in New York, Nashville, and Washington, D.C. Omo: Expressions of a People, a collection of photographs from Ethiopia, is the second of several expeditions Doggett has planned as part of this ten-year project. Trained in fashion photography, Doggett creates images that capture a larger, perhaps classical, idea of beauty—one that speaks to worlds beyond the immediate context of his subjects. His photography of these traditional communities encourages Western viewers of all ages to draw links between seemingly disparate cultures. The interaction of landscape and human physicality is a particular focus of his work. Since 2009, Doggett has incorporated a philanthropic element into his artistic pursuits with Art Cares. Thanks to this non-profit project, proceeds from the book and fine art prints of Slow Road to China have already funded all operations at a health center in rural Nepal for a year. In 2012, the Omo collection was accepted into the Smithsonian African Art Museum’s photographic archives. Doggett’s fine art photography is on display in buildings and private collections around the world. He lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina.