The Rendille people in the Northern Kenyan desert take great pride in their traditional culture, especially when it comes to ornamentation for both men and women. From elaborate headdresses to layers of beads stacked with precision, each item worn has a symbolic meaning that lets others know where that person is in life. Warriors in each tribe are recognizable through feathered headdresses, hair carefully styled with ochre, and beads draped across the chest. Women wear necklaces and earrings that let other tribe members know whether they are married or how many children they have, as well as their children’s gender.
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.