You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life. – Joan Miro
Photography isn’t about looking but it’s about the depth of feeling. What emotions are being evoked or stirred up by what you see? One can look at Adrian McDonald’s pictures and think about them all their life; how they savor life intensely. I can put myself in the exact scenes he has created. I feel their love, heartache, happiness, passion, anguish, joy… His work ignites emotions to the viewer because, we can relate.
This philosophical artistic portrays scenes that are thought provoking. In the sense that, they open doors into the past, live in the now but also allow a look into the future. Like these images that tell river tales.
Let’s go to the river
Water, a human right necessary for man’s survival, is not easily accessible for so many of us. Such has been the case in the past, as it is now and probably will be in the future. It’s not as simple as just opening a tap and out rushes clean, hygienic clear water that’s not too saline.
To simply get safe water for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and other household needs requires millions of women (adolescent girls, pregnant women, mothers with small children), to spend hours every day traveling to water sources, waiting in line and carrying heavy loads – often several times a day.
A UNICEF/WHO report states that 263 million people worldwide have access to water sources that are considered safe, but need to spend at least 30 minutes walking or queuing to collect their water. Another 159 million get their water from surface sources that are considered to be the most unsafe, such as rivers, streams and ponds. Water from these sources is even more likely to require over 30 minutes to collect.
Women in a recent study in Kenya reported spending an average of 4.5 hours fetching water per week, causing 77 percent to worry about their safety while fetching and preventing 24 percent from caring for their children.
Unfortunately, it’s not a choice so there women go to the river, with buckets, dirty washing and children running along.
To a place where memories are made
Wouldn’t it be a good time to get noticed by your crush or impress the women? Adrian McDonald thought so.
“When I was a boy around the age of 11 my friend and I @jai_isfirst would walk to the river every Sunday to go swimming and experience the other elements of our beautiful culture. I couldn’t swim but he could, kinda. So instead, I spent most of my time admiring the river ladies who’d come to the river to wash. Sometimes girls my age would come with their parents and other times they’d come alone. I’d wade through the water at knee height and watched as the other boys jumped from the bridge in varying skillful ways clamoring for attention to impress these women.
After a few Sundays of river visits I got tired of wading through knee height water. I needed my glory too, my time had come. One day I jumped and prayed to God I’d miraculously adapt and swim, after all I didn’t remember anyone teaching any of my friends to swim. Mid way through the jump I knew I had messed up, mentally I turned back but physically it was too late. I nearly drowned but I got saved by a friend, Kevaughn Crichton, he too nearly drowned in the process of saving me. Everyone was in complete shock and awkward awe, it was reckless but brave, and I’d made a fool of myself. Most of the river girls had barely taken notice as they were consumed in their own conversations minding their own business.
As an adult looking back now I wonder, how many of us never got a second chance to learn important life lessons? The fool shouts loudly, thinking to impress the world. Don’t die to be seen, often times the world isn’t even looking.
Our stories, our experiences, our memories are different, all of us. When you look at these images and see the stories Adrian McDonald created, have you lived them or are you currently living them? Do they remind you of some of your traditional cultural practices? Whether you took part in them or not, do you see those moments when women could speak freely? A moment where they could openly air out their feelings, views and opinions. I mean, women’s roles were not to ‘think’ and make decisions. The purpose of female existence was to be silent, to get married, bear children and bring in wealth through dowry.
Were you like him, a boy trying to impress the girls? Did you try to bust out a move in the hopes of turning heads? You know, them acknowledging your presence. Imagine getting a smile your way or one of the girls you liked talking to you…
Are you aware of the struggles that we still face in getting safe water necessary for our survival? It is estimated that 163 million Indians still don’t have access to clean, running water. Until that’s fixed, this significant national problem will prevail, with women paying the biggest price. In fact, one report revealed that almost 23 percent of girls in India drop out of school on reaching puberty due to a lack of water and sanitation facilities. Indeed, there are women in the global south who are denied education purely because they have to collect water rather than go to school.
Photography is helping us to see
See, feel and do something about it. Adrian McDonald’s images as he says range from nostalgic lifestyle scenes to religion, politics and most importantly, love. It’s what we all have in common in varying degrees and how these things affect us positively and negatively.
Media courtesy of Adrian McDonald’s Instagram
Team behind the shoot photographed by Adrian McDonald;
Make-Up Assistant: @brushedbykay.ja
Technical Assistant: @cryptikkk