Morocco’s Guir Desert 2006
My guide, Ali Mouni, used to take his friends or family with us when we went to look for nomads near his home village of Merzouga. These men had no vehicle and would jump at the chance to visit friends and families who they knew were camped in the far reaches of the desert.
We descended on this woman’s family one morning in August. The men of her family immediately started making tea while this woman and her young daughter hurried to finish the day’s bread baking. (The nomads do bake bread. They have a small oven made of adobe a few yards from the tent. It is hump-shaped and the size of a small Weber’s barbecue.)
This portrait was taken in the tent as the men were enjoying tea and fresh bread dipped in smen, an aged ghee. The woman took a brief moment to rest and I caught this pensive pose. You can see her work-worn hands and her weathered face. She was perhaps 40 years old. Just to be fair, not all nomad women have lined faces, it depends on skin type.
I like to photograph inside desert tents because the blinding sun reflects off the sand and casts a soft light into the tent depths. One thing I learned from trying to print this type of photo in the darkroom was to be aware of the background. Often there would be a gap in the tent walls and I’d get a hot spot that no burning in could ever remedy. I ruined many a good shot with this error. Now, of course, I can fix any hot spot in Photoshop by using the clone tool.