The Market Workers: A Tribute

We are so very pleased to announce the launch of our beautiful little book The Market Workers, a loving tribute to some of the hardest workers on earth.

This book has been a labor of love for many years, starting when I first entered the market in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia and saw the tireless energy and positive mindsets of the market workers who work so very hard each day to bring food, clothing/textiles, spices and household wares to so many. From simple dinner tables to high end luxury hotels, these people make sure there is a ready supply of items that feed the body and soul.

This book could not have been created without the help from so many others. Enormous gratitude goes first and foremost to Lincoln Miller, owner of PushDot Studio, who labored over the files to get them to look colorful and lively, all with a consistent feel, even though the images were created over a three year time span. His talented and gracious wife, Dardi Troen, owner of Ditroen, worked with renowned educator and artist (and very good friend!) Kirsten Rian to create the look and feel of the design of the book and sequence the images. We could not select a cover image (this proved too difficult when I love all of the workers!) so the cover is a very simple black face with red/orange foil type.

Aida Muluneh, founder of the Addis Foto Fest, penned a heartfelt introduction to the book and coordinated an exhibit, and mentor and friend Mary Ellen Mark, who has had a huge influence on my visual heart and soul, wrote a special sentiment.

Words escape me when trying to articulate the gratitude I have for the assistance I received while in Ethiopia from my many friends there, from the city officials in Bahir Dar, and above all, from Habtamu, my trusty guide and friend who works in the markets in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

The printing was done by Brown Publishing, with astonishing results. The colors are deep and saturated, and skin tones are true to life.

Each book was lovingly crafted with a hard cover, the highest quality papers and flat lying binding. This is a very short run (only 200 copies) and many of them were given to people in Ethiopia (including the energetic market worker who coordinated the project within the market) when the book was launched during The Market Workers exhibition opening at the National Museum of Ethiopia last December.

Prints have been shown at Lightbox Gallery, PushDot Studio, Katayama GalleryThe Clymb headquarters, and have been included in many other international exhibits. Special gratitude to Laura Domela, for her painterly hand at post processing each image to appear lifelike. The sales of these prints offset costs that enabled this book to be published, so a sincere thank you goes to those who purchased prints.

Each book costs $40, plus shipping and handling.  All proceeds enable me to pay for the cost of producing the book, plus allows me to keep doing the work I do in Ethiopia.

Kindly email me to reserve a copy.

 

The Market Workers Book

The Market Workers Book

Behind the scenes of the Market Workers series: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Market Workers Lightbox Gallery

 

OnTrak Magazine: Vikesh Kapoor

How can a young man, so early in his life, produce such forlorn material that depicts strain and stress and mystery and broken down spirit, with the tendrils of hope right within and outside of reach?

This is Vikesh Kapoor‘s style of song, and he sings it with conviction, as though he really did experience such down trodden affairs.

Photographing him was not an easy task – when he reaches for his guitar and begins to sing, he is lost in the lyrics and I had a difficult time finding a connection through the camera. For most of our session, I just put the camera aside and listened to him.

Once the guitar is by his side, he returns to his impish and stylish self, joking and smiling in a playful manner. But the specs of my assignment was to photograph him while he was playing. I waited and joined him in his means of story-telling, forgetting that I had a job to do. Sometime during his songs, I was able to pick up the camera and create these images by not looking through the experience-ruining lens.

Something feels a bit controlled about him, but not in the traditional way. He seems to be really thinking about things: his day, his upcoming tour, his lovely girlfriend perhaps? No, there seems to be a tragedy that lurks behind his boyish grins. Who knows if he has experienced some trauma that brings him to this music – it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t seem to question where his creative center comes from, and neither should I.

The Portland Mercury writes that his album “The Ballad of Willy Robbins is a vital, blood-spattered document of the times America currently finds itself in, examining hard-working people and their families as they’re sidelined by big business and the bottom dollar”.  At such a young age, he is certainly able to channel nuance, the loss of a cherished something or someone, with anguished tentacles running deeper than we allow ourselves to feel in this highly distracting world.

I wonder what he will do next.

Images shot for OnTrak Magazine; his story is on Amtrak trains now.

Vikesh Vapoor

Vikesh Vapoor

Vikesh Vapoor

Vikesh Vapoor

Vikesh Vapoor

 

 

The Cadence of Motherhood

I watch her slip into a surgical cap and gown, and carefully wash her hands. This isn’t the first time she has been in the operating theater in Africa, nor will it be the last. She stands tall and confident, and moves about as though she has the experience of a lifetime.

But she is only 18 years old, and she is on a mission trip to Ethiopia to help with maternal care surgeries.

Brynn in surgery

As I watch my daughter work alongside deft handed surgeons, my heart pounds a bit harder. Here she is, whole and healthy and grounded, and had we lived in this same Ethiopian town at the time when she was born, most likely we both would have perished. She means the world to me.

I suffered obstructed labor with my first child, and luckily lived in a nation where I had access to emergency obstetrical operations. Two other children came after the first, born under the same conditions, and all three are now enjoying robust lives. And now I have a family to cherish. They mean the world to me.

Ben, Aaron, Brynn

My connection to women in Ethiopia runs deep. I am devoted to bringing their stories afar with the hope that more people will rally around global maternal care concerns. Each time I look into their eyes, I want to express my sorrow for the inequity of health care around the world. Why was I so fortunate to have had access to emergency obstetrics and these women, the women who teach me so very much, do not? In this day and age, it is unforgivable.

Fatumo

Yet, faced with so many problems and maneuvering a day’s hard work of fetching loads of wood and carrying heavy jerry cans of water while traversing rugged terrain just to get food on the table for their loved ones, these mothers show no remorse and reflect only astonishing resilience. In their eyes, I don’t see sorrow or resentment or desperation; instead, I see a quiet fortitude, boundless happiness, and flickers of hope.

Lalo

Ethiopian woman praying

One woman takes my hand and helps me learn how to milk a camel and cook over a fire. Another tells me that my attire will never attract anyone. And yet another mother shows me how to nurture a child through a tantrum. They all, each and every one of them, show me the virtue of grace and the benefits of choosing happiness over despair, even while experiencing dire circumstances.

Taiko Cooking

Joni and The Camel Milk Producers

The demand for good maternal care in Ethiopia is high. Men will carry a woman for days to a health post only to find no staff in sight due to a shortage of doctors and health care officers. Women will stand in line at rural health posts for weeks, waiting for assistance. I applaud organizations such as The Liya Kebede Foundation, The Hamlin Fistula Hospital and The Barbara May Foundation and many others as they work tirelessly to bring effective health care services to these women.

Women waiting in Gimbie

Woman waiting for health care in Gimbie, Ethiopia

Yet it is the young girls who are embedded in my heart the most. They learn early on to withstand pain and suffering, and to only focus on the positive threads in each day. It is these girls who need reassurance the most – that the world is here for them, and substandard and inequitable health care practices are unacceptable.

They deserve to know that they mean the world to us.

Fanta

Young girl in Sheno, Ethiopia

The Passage

 

Pink Martini + Oregon Balley Theatre

I love shooting for the Oregon Ballet Theatre, and this last shoot was exceptionally fun!

Here are two renditions of the poster they created for this performance.

Photographing Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini was a highlight of my career.  He was alert, game for anything, and even taught me a lesson or two.

 

OBTFINAL

OBT_25_Poster_final

Acosia Red Elk

Photographing a person always has a spiritual feeling for me, but standing before Acosia as she dissolved one with her land was quite an astonishing and humbling experience.

We have so much to learn from our land’s indigenous culture.

Go to a pow wow, not only to watch the dancing, but also cross the cultural divide, dismiss any personal shyness and hesitation, and spend some time talking with someone from a tribe. Listen to their tales of history and beliefs. It’s opened my world and shifted my thinking substantially.

I can’t thank Acosia enough for letting me into a small part of her rhythmic world.

Watch her dance here.  Get the article here.

Acosia

Joni_Acosia_PDF-4

Magazine Assignment: Young Farmers In Oregon

This assignment from 1859 Magazine goes down as one of my all time favorites!  The editor, Kevin Max, and I drove all around Oregon talking with young farmers who are devoted to bringing good things to our tables.

From fruit to cows to pigs to wheat, and even vacant city lot planted vegetables, we learned a lot about what it takes to make a commitment to growing things and understanding the unpredictable nature of land.

Here’s a collective cheer to these fascinating and energetic souls!

1859 Magazine: Farmers

1859 Magazine: Farmers

1859 Magazine: Farmers

1859 Magazine: Farmers

Young Farmers, for 1859 Magazine

“Abebe” Goes to Vermont

“Abebe” has been curated into the upcoming “Blue” show at the Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction in Vermont.

We are especially excited for this, as this image is being considered as a cover for the upcoming book that will be released in September 2014.

All images from The Mercato Workers series were taken in the market in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

Abebe

Copyright 2017 Joni Kabana. All rights reserved. Site by TD