A Good Day for Shade & Hedgehogs

It was sunny today and my workmen* were making me laugh and laugh and laugh. I was trying to learn the Arabic word for shadow–something that’s incredibly hard to mime/ask. I have to ask for shadow a lot. The desert sun throws features into incredible relief, leaving the bottoms of pits into deep shadow. To photograph these features we have to shade the entire pit, requiring a huddle of bodies with the cameraperson in the middle.

The proximity that a seamless shadow requires makes my workmen incredibly uncomfortable. My workmen are Muslims from Sudan and though I’m a white non-Muslim woman (and therefore supposed to be treated like a man) and we laugh and joke all day, taking the photograph has become a ritual that must be observed. We huddle together in a contorted mass, I frame the shot in close, our shadows coalesce around the small pit, shoot, then we break apart into our individual pieces again.

I was thinking of this as I moved in to take my very first photograph of a hedgehog. It is the first (live) hedgehog that I’ve ever seen, a fact that is astonishing to the English. I think I’ll show the photograph to my workmen tomorrow and learn what hedgehog is in Arabic.

*I call them “my workmen” with a full understanding of the colonialist possessive intonation. A lot of people treat the workmen as interchangeable hands, but I try to teach them as I’d teach students. 

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One response to “A Good Day for Shade & Hedgehogs

  1. But we all know your heart is pure toward as to your intentions; as you are certainly not the Victorian Queen, but an intellectual woman. An intellectual woman who works just as hard or harder then most men in many areas of life. Thus you are alive and live a wonderous life as are **all** those who touch your life. A fan in Afghanistan now . . .

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