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Luke Duggleby October 6, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ethiopia.

Christmas Ceremony in Tigray, Ethiopia 2011

Luke Duggleby (b. 1977, UK) is a British freelance documentary photographer based in Bangkok. His work has been published in National Geographic Magazine, GEO, The Guardian Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Smithsonian and TIME. Over the years Luke’s pictures have been recognized in global competitions such as POYi, PDN Annual, IPA Awards, DAYS Japan, Photo Philantropy Awards, Px3 and as Environmental Photographer of the Year. His second book about salt making places will be published in 2015 by Mare, Germany. Luke is represented by Redux Pictures in New York.

 About the Photograph:

“I had just spent a week documenting the ancient salt caravan in the Dankil Depression in the Afar Province of Northern Ethiopia. Loving Ethiopia I decided to stay a bit longer and document the ancient land of Tigray, which sits next door to Afar. An ancient land and completely different place, with unique people, landscape and culture. The province often feels like you have stepped back in time. Without any particular angle in mind my fixer and I spend several weeks driving around the Province, drawn to the fascinating rock-hewn churches that dot the landscape. I am not a religious person but find religion fascinating. It was Christmas Eve and my fixer told me of a remote church that was holding a ceremony the next day. Ethiopia is an Orthodox Christian country and celebrates Christmas Day in January, but our Christmas Day happened to fall on the birthday of this particular Church’s saint. After gaining permission from the Priest we were told to return at 4 am the following morning.”

 “In the early morning people were already congregating in the shadows of the church. Wrapped in white shawls and reading silently from tiny prayer books the whole atmosphere was mysterious. Inside the thousand year old church were hundreds of people, rocking in prayer, playing music and being blessed by red robe clad priests holding enormous bibles. After the main service had finished inside everyone went outside where the priests began to bless the congregation with holy water. This photograph was taken as the crowds began to assemble to receive the water that was propelled at them so fast by the Priest at the microphone it must have stung their faces.”