Out of all the photos I have taken, this is my favourite.
It was taken in Jordan somewhere in between Ishtar on the Dead Sea and Bethany at a Nawari campsite. The Nawari are a nomadic people with a very simple way of life.
The Nawari suffer very bad discrimination in Jordan and are generally recognised as the lowest of the low. Often ostracised in school (if they attend) they tend to stick to themselves and almost exclusively marry other Nawari. It is almost impossible for them to get a mainstream job because of attitudes towards them, and as a result they have scratched a living in the same way for centuries, keeping goats and chickens, trading fruit and doing casual labour on farms.
The children proudly showed me around their camp, pointing out all the animals, and in particular the donkey who they all seemed to like very much.
Objectively the photo is nothing special, but looking at it reminds me of when I took it. I was trying to get a photo of the goat, who kept running away or threatening to butt me. I’m quite confident with animals, but I definitely wasn’t going to try to grab it. Then I was completely put in my place by this girl of maybe 8, who ran across, seized it by the neck to hold it in place for me. It bucked quite violently, not enjoying being restrained, but after a short ‘wrestling match’ it finally gave up and stayed still for the photo.
When I showed her the image on my phone she was ecstatic and all her siblings were shouting jubilantly. I don’t know what their exposure to technology that we take for granted was, but they acted like they had never seen a smart phone, let alone one with an image of them on it.
At the time, it was all about getting a close up of the goat, but now the subject of the photo is undeniably the young girl, and her friendliness, excitement and happiness comes across so clearly, set against a backdrop of severe poverty makes a powerful contrast.