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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Ulla Lohmann

Aug29

Papua New Guinea: Photo versus Culture, Women versus Men

By Ulla Lohmann, Thursday August 29, 2013
The Kinavai ceremony - certain parts are for men only. Shot on my EOS 5D Mark III with an EF70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The exposure was 1/1600sec at f/6.3, ISO 500.

The Kinavai ceremony - certain parts are for men only. Shot on my EOS 5D Mark III with an EF70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The exposure was 1/1600sec at f/6.3, ISO 500. © Ulla Lohmann

I am a woman. Sometimes, I hate this fact. Especially when I can't take certain pictures...

Papua New Guinea is a male-orientated society. In some parts of the country, women inherit land, but it's the men who marry them and who then rule their empire. Women are bought for the price of a couple pigs. Women stay in the village, work in the garden, cook and raise the children.

Women are not allowed at many ceremonies, like at today's "Kinavai" of the Tolei people in Kokopo, where the spirit figures "DukDuk" disembark onto the beach.

Because I am a woman, I am also asked to stay behind. As sad as it is for a photographer to miss the right moment, it is very important to me to respect the feelings and traditions of the people being photographed.

So I wait and observe. And when finally called, I already know where the action will be and still manage to get an image without offending anybody. My compact, lightweight EOS 5D Mark III with the EF70-200mm f/2.8 lens is a perfect combination to sneak this quick shot in the crowd.

There are some very strong women in Papua New Guinea, who secretly run the place. They are the future of this country, because they communicate well, seek compromises, don't misuse money for alcohol or drugs, but instead fight for better education for their children and their future - with a lot of wit and guts.

The Bainin Fire Dance is a very special event, held on rare occasions only. Shot with my EOS 5D Mark III with an EF70-200mm f/2.8 (old version of the lens). The exposure was 1/40sec at f/2.8, ISO 2000 with flash.

The Bainin Fire Dance is a very special event, held on rare occasions only. Shot with my EOS 5D Mark III with an EF70-200mm f/2.8 (old version of the lens). The exposure was 1/40sec at f/2.8, ISO 2000 with flash. © Ulla Lohmann