Do not look for what they haven’t got, but for what they do have, for even the most miserable has got a treasure of the soul which you do not possess.

Sándor Weöres, Hungarian poet

This series follows the trials and changes of three young Roma sisters from rural Hungary. From dropping out of school, to surviving without a job, to becoming mothers at a young age, these individuals manage to hold together by staying close as a family.

This photographic series has been in progress since 2009. It is not meant as a documentary series of the Roma people but more of a sociological, individual study. A search for human wholeness.

As the photographer, I did not care that my subjects were (or appeared) Roma, but rather that they continue to be themselves. My hope was to glimpse a bit of the shared experience of vulnerability, of longing and loss.

Or, as poet Carl Sandburg wrote in the preface to The Family of Man:

People! Flung wide and far, born into toil, struggle, blood and dreams, among lovers, eaters, drinkers, workers, loafers, fighters, players, gamblers. Here are…the landless, the loved and the unloved, the lonely and abandoned, the brutal and the compassionate — one big family hugging close to the ball of Earth for its life and being. Everywhere is love and love-making, weddings and babies from generation to generation keeping the Family of Man alive and continuing…

Often the faces speak that words can never say. Some tell of eternity and others only the latest tattings. Child faces of blossom smiles or mouths of hunger are followed by homely faces of majesty carved and worn by love, prayer and hope, along with others light and carefree as thistledown in a late summer wing. Faces have land and sea on them, faces honest as the morning sun flooding a clean kitchen with light, faces crooked and lost and wondering where to go this afternoon or tomorrow morning…

—Tamas Schild

In celebration of the ongoing LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017, we will be publishing a series of inspiring features on great contemporary portraiture. Enjoy!