So often when we look at photographs of other cultures, it is because of some sort of tragedy or human suffering. The purpose behind the images is to shed a light on the circumstances the people are living in; whether it is disease, some sort of natural disaster, or famine and starvation. There is an implied purpose to exploit the subjects of the images as well as to exploit the viewers’ emotions in order to manipulate us into helping in some way. I realize those types of images are important. Without them we would not be able to put a face on people in this world who are worse off than we are. We would have no idea of the need that exists and therefore would not help. The problem with only looking at those types of images, however, is, it tends to make us think we are better than they are. When all we see is the tragedy and the suffering, it reinforces a feeling of superiority in our own culture. After all, we are the ones who can help. They are the ones who need it. That is why I love seeing portraits like these by Diego Arroyo. His portraits of the Samburu, in Kenya, do not show us a people living in squalor; instead, they show us a culture that is proud and beautiful. They do not exploit or try to manipulate. They are just simple portraits of a people living in a land that is mysterious, where they are holding on to old ways, which, to them, are better than anything we have to offer.
[via Lost at E Minor]