Yemen: A Portrait in Black and White
This series of photographs were taken while I was working in Yemen, a country about which most people know very little. The limited information that does get disseminated about Yemen tends to concentrate solely on war, terrorism and poverty, and provides a very one-dimensional, stereotypical perspective on what is actually a very beautiful, fascinating and complex country with a rich history and culture.
I wanted to challenge the cliched perceptions of Yemen by taking a series of portraits: by depicting individuals, often in very close-up shots, I wanted to humanise the country. Capturing the images of various different people not only demonstrates the diversity of the country's population (as well as Arab heritage, many Yemenis also have African and Indian heritage), but also symbolises the complexity of the nation itself. The images also hint at different stories, experiences and backgrounds but, being close up, do not explicitly provide a context or story, forcing the viewer to imagine the lives of each individual.
I also wanted to play on the idea of stereotypes, of seeing things in a very simple way or without any nuance, by ensuring that the photos did not include any colour: since many people view Yemen 'in black and white', the photos themselves are black and white, but (hopefully!) are far from being one-dimensional. The title of the collection of photos ('Yemen: A Portrait in Black and White') plays on this irony, as does the choice to number each photo rather than include the name of each individual - do we see people in black and white, as anonymous numbers, rather than as individuals?