Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Angst (ɑŋkst)

n. a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

These photos were taken worlds and years apart, however the emotion is one in the same.  (Left) Early one sticky morning in the small village of Humjibre, West Ghana,  I walked out of my cinder block house and followed a dirt trail that lead to the road into town. Halfway up the hill, dodging potholes and speeding taxi cars, is a small community clinic where nurses hold a monthly baby-weighing session for local mothers. Infant mortality is high in the Sefwi-Bibiani Bekwai region and the clinic tracks infant development in the community. I had volunteered to help out the week before and, if truth be told, I was more curious of the baby-weighing visuals than the actual tracking process. It was an hour of angry baby yelps and cries and mothers chuckling as their wriggling bodies were placed into a cloth swing and extend into empty space.

(Right) During my 3rd year studying Photojournalism at WKU, I was exposed for the first time to the joys of high school football. Our assigned was a sports picture story and I began following the Edmonson Co. High School Wildcats, a small high school nestled in the hills of rural Kentucky. I spent afternoons at practices and in stinky locker rooms and Friday evenings football games. The boys first felt like celebrities and approached me like a weird outsider with a camera. Then they either got tired of the effort it took to pay attention to me or got used to my unflagging presence and I became another (strange) member of the team. They finished up their season in style and made their first trip to the semi-finals since 1998. The game was emotional and freezing cold. I remember watching the mist slowly coat the football field as the frenzy paused for half time. The tough seniors reaction to their loss was hugely emotional. I watched as these big, tobacco-chewing boys broke down and cried in each others arms. 

Years later, I was sifting through thousands of images from different continents, cultures and peoples and the similarities of these two images and how I reacted to them caught my eye. My ears may always ring when thinking about that morning filled with crying babies and I may never unhear (and unlearn) the random locker room conversations that took place between those hormonal adolescent boys, but the memories were more than worth it!

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