This is one of the more surreal photos I’ve taken. While photographing for a workshop in Cox’s Bazar (the longest unbroken natural beach in the world), I came across a group of boys gathered around something just where the sand meets the sea.
They were clearly excited and slightly afraid of the snake, which was injured and trying to get away. I stopped them from poking it with a stick, and the snake started moving towards the water. As I raised my camera, one of the boys behind me – out of my sight – had thrown a large stone without me realising, and it bounced off the snakes head a split second before my shutter went off. It took me a second to realise what had happened. Needless to say, the snake was dead after that.
I stayed in the remote village of Kingangi (in Kasai-Orientale province) in March this year, while photographing part of my Leprosy Eliminated? project. I woke up on the second morning to the sound of singing. The singing itself was uplifting, raw and organic. I went to see what it was all about. Sadly, it turned out that young child of 18 or so months had died unexpectedly the previous evening.
A small crowd of women was gathered, looking inwards, all singing and dancing. But there were no smiles and no laughter. The men sat sombrely to the side. The young father, who was maybe my age came up to me. I asked if it would be ok to photograph. He had said it was no problem. I crouched down and squeezed gently through the crowd of women. The child, less than 12 hours dead was lying on the table.
The dances of the women were rocking up and down, almost like a theatrical wailing. Some of them were crying. The mother sat, clearly numb with disbelief. I took a few photos and put the camera down. I suppose it is tradition of some sort, though I never found out the details as I had a long trek that morning. The cause of the baby’s death was unknown.