Essay Projects

Maasai Woman, Child and Goat Milk, MWC

Maasai Woman, Child and Goat Milk, MWC

Maasai mommaHere is another portrait from my recent trip to Kenya. I was there with New Course to check in on four women’s groups that all live in the Maasai Wilderness areas of Kenya.  New Course has started a program with these women to help them form local women’s groups that pool resources in order to do things such as purchase solar lights; eliminating the need to purchase kerosene for lanterns and freeing up those shillings for other uses or re-investment. One industrious group of ladies had already purchased two goats with the savings are are able to now sell goat milk.  If you want to read more about Mpowered and our Luci light program, see the New Course website, or pop over to David Middleton‘s website  to see some great photo’s of these lights in action.

In this village in the Maasai Wildnerness Concervation area we were able to visit some homes of the local families, and were welcomed into their “boma” or village. This was a great honor for us – to be allowed to visit, go into their homes and speak with the villagers. We were able to give them a couple of Luci lights, not part of the business programs, but as a way of thanking them for hosting us all allowing us to photograph them. One boy was so thrilled; he is currently “top student in English” at his school and he got right to reading. We helped them to arrange lights along some brush fencing where the goats are kept at night to keep them safe from predators. Yes, lions and hyenas are still part of life for some people in the world.  You can see the young girl checking on her goat and then holding the light for her mom so that she was able to milk her goat by the light of the solar lamp.checking the goats in the boma

This may not be the best, most artistic or most powerful image I have ever taken, but I am freaking proud of catching it. Consider the odds of NOT getting it… had to be in Kenya in the Maasai Wilderness area.  Had to be welcomed in, and able to move in close. It was night, therefore dark, I repeat dark, and therefore I needed lots of ISO and enough shutter speed to catch the spraying stream of milk, in the dark.. and if you have ever milked a goat or cow you know it’s a moving process. I shot several bursts each time she pulled on the teat. Once the goat stepped right in the way. Goat’s don’t care if you get the shot. Once my own shadow was in the way … a whole bunch were just too blurry or pre or post stream… you get the idea by now. So here it is, mid-stream maasai goat milk!


goat milk

Not your everyday subject.


Then, there is the little princess Lillian who is the featured image on the blog. Is she not the most beautiful child ever? Except your own, or your grandkids of course… she is one very very pretty little girl.  Not everyone, and certainly most adults, would not look at all attractive in this uplight, but she is wonderful and her expression captures the moment nicely. The last one is of  Lillian’s mom, who also happened to be milking the goat. In this one she is carrying the cup of milk and holding/nursing her baby.  One thing I really don’t understand about our culture is why we are so hung up and squeamish about breast feeding, breasts (if not associated with sports, Victoria secret ads, or beer commercials) and breast milk.

Did you read in the paper about breast milk banks? I did, along with a friend the other day, who, yes, was totally grossed out. Like, eeewwweeeeee icky… about breast milk being consumed by ummm human people. The same species for whom breast milk is actually intended? This same person drinks cows milk and plenty of it. Goat’s milk, cheese, butter you name it. Now, isn’t it odd that THAT seems normal to us? Have you ever seen a dairy barn? A cow udder smeared in cow poop… and mother’s milk is an eeeewwwwwe? Not an ewe, that would bring us back to goats. So, I know I am way afield of photography, but that is where my mind wanders most of the time – far far afield. You need not accompany me unless you want too!!

So, back to photography for any of you still reading:

The portrait in the previous post is also a portrait of one of the young women from the Maasai Wilderness Concervation area. She was beautiful and strong, and yes, I chose to over expose the image by about a stop – something you can do very easily on a bright day with a subject with dark skin – and that over exposure allows me to easily “erase” the back ground, and concentrate on her face. I knew where I was headed with the final image when I took the shot. I wanted that look – of a hot sun whited out day.  I also pulled down the color for the same reason, to keep the viewer focus on her face and eyes. We contemplate her as she contemplates her future.



Lillian and the luci light



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