Portraits /

Unscripted moments in time

In the rivers of south Bangladesh, a boy affectionally places his arm around his friend, just as I’m about to click. In a stick hut in the Danakil Depression, a boy gets tired of waiting for me to focus my camera and starts looking the other way while blowing a balloon. And in a colourful market high up in the Guge Mountains of southwest Ethiopia, a woman looks away and laughs at her friends who are giggling as she poses for a photo.

Rafiya Hamadin Jahalin was born in the Negev between 1902 and 1910, which means she could be up to 117 years old. Rafiya has lived through the Ottoman and Jordanian eras, and now the Israeli occupation.

This is the man who spotted me slipping in the mud as I was awkwardly jumping across muddy canals in the backwaters of Kirtipasha. He rushed over, advised which part to cross before extending his hand for balance. He then invited me into his tiny wooden house and offered me lunch. As I’d already eaten we settled for coffee and clean water. Before leaving I asked if I could take his portrait. He agreed, but quickly disappeared into the next room. Ok, maybe not then. He then returned in a white T-shirt (it's rare to see a male wearing a T-shirt in the canals) and a comb (even rarer). After combing his hair in the nearby mirror (see background), he gave me the nod of approval. Ok, now we we’re set. When I pulled the camera out he chose to stare into the distance rather than look at the lens. He then asked to review the shot before promptly signing it off.

A woman in a fruit shop in Chencha market, a colourful market high up in the Guge Mountains of southwest Ethiopia. On Tuesdays and Saturdays locals trade for mango, sugar cane, woven blankets, decorated gourds, livestock, footwear and even Tej (locally produced honey wine).