The images in this series were taken in Ethiopia’s sun-baked Omo Valley, an area recognized by scientists as the cradle of humankind, and currently home to a rich variety of semi-nomadic ethnic groups. Diverse in many respects but linked by their shared migration path, these groups lead a way of life that is both colorful and austere. Physical attractiveness is held in extremely high regard amongst the Omo peoples. Bracelets, necklaces, and headdresses are treasured and worn with pride. Men and women alike ornament their bodies in strikingly beautiful ways, and these celebrations of individuality speak beyond their immediate context.
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.