I agree… is shocking and disturbing because we know the mother is maybe passing it harder than she could on a globalized world, disturbing because it pictures the social boundaries we haven’t ended yet.. also beautiful because she doesn’t need what she doesn’t know.. she looks calmed and in peace enjoying her kid and what she has
I don’t find it shocking or disturbing at all. Different part of the world. Makes me stop to ponder the excesses in our world. This is a perfect example of function and style. Purposeful, but not “placed”. Done out of necessity, beauty as a byproduct. It looks like she is preparing his bath(?)
â€ś[A]nother important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.â€ť
â€• Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
Wow! Amazing capture (as always). Morocco has always been fascinating to me and I love getting to go there several times a year with my yoga retreat groups. I loved your series last year and look forward to more from this exotic locale!
“Stylish”, “Love the head scarf”, “a perfect example of function and style”???! I would like to remind you that west sahara is occupied land at that nearly 200 000 people live like refuges in tents in their own contry. This has been going on since 1975! This is not “stylish”, this is disaster.
Very well said Andrea..Great photo Scott..I hope that with this photo you are opening a new chapter in this blog where people do not buy and buy clothes and spend hours in front of their mirror to be stylish (even if they do not admit it) but they use them above all as necessity items, to survive. It is true that you captured in the past moments from everyday life of many cultures but I still believe that this photo is something completely new in this blog..I am impressed
Agree with Andrea Johansson, above. It takes a troublingly detached mind/heart to aestheticize images like this. It is basically sartorial slumming. However, I do not think Scott intended the image as such. Presenting documentary photographs alongside fashion photographs is a tricky business, but I think that those who have been following the site long enough can suss out the photographer’s intent, and place each type of photograph in the correct category.
Previous subject matter have stirred up similar comments by others that seem to reveal a certain lack of perspective. I suppose because this is a fashion blog first, one would first jump to conclusions about fashion statements of those photographed before recognizing the overall picture and perhaps other priorities. There are those that also question the placement of such photographs in a fashion blog but I think Scott’s photographs of those around the world can only provide a perspective that is all too often taken for granted when coveting and/or admiring the latest stylish decisions of others.
There’s no question that the notion of being “Stylish” under these circumstances is completely besides the point. Even the idea of the beauty of necessity seems out of place with an image of such grinding poverty. I can’t quite pin it down, but this and other images like it seem unresolved as a statement within the context of this blog. And the reasoning that you’ve offered in the past seems weak. I agree with A. Johnson, the larger context of this image is suffering and disaster, not fashion or beauty. It’s clear that you’re stretching for something, but it feels like you’re out of your element. Kudos to you, however, for putting yourself out there.
I am delighted to see this photo. It really means a lot that you consider “fashion” as more than someone donning the latest trend or the most glorified designer. This really brings the creative and cultural life into perspective for a lot of people. And for that, I thank you!
I found this utterly disturbing, the depth of poverty and the hopelessness of the photo. Then I looked again. Where did she get the water from? Did she carry it a long distance? There seems to be no well nearby. The boy looks like he had to take his pants off to get washed. Were they his only pair? She seems so focused on this. Why? So many questions this photo raises for me.
I love the photo. For me, it is not out of place on this blog. I do not see it as a fashion statement, but a statement about fashion. Personally, the part of the image that blares out at me is the Adidas logo – a trademark of Western wealth that has found itself into the most improbable location. It provokes thought, and conversation (as we see on this page). For me – is it not sad that we live in a world where items such as these can find their way to people who have so many other needs? Isn’t it a shame that so many people on earth are living without necessities and comforts – and can’t the brilliant minds of design and creativity use them towards these purposes as well? Forget whether or not this was a ‘documentary photo’ risk or not. The point is that Scott is human, and so are his subjects, and he has brought that humanity out in myself. That is the essential element of any photography that is worthwhile.
It is quite possible that this woman and her child experience greater peace in their daily life than we do here in our consumerism-driven western world. Who are we to judge, not being there at the time of the photograph? We don’t know the story, we can all only assume. I have been following the Sartorialist for years and I think it is both wonderful AND important that he depicts beauty and style both where there is wealth and where there isn’t. As always, well done.
I find the emphasis on peace here quite disturbing, given that this mother and child live in a troubled region without basic necessities (clothing and safe water). Think of Maslov’s hierarchy: peace of mind comes only after the foundational aspects of life are met.
Fast forward to the future…this boy would then come across this photo in one of your books. What would he say or ponder upon? It’s a personal question, isn’t it? You captured the essence of a life at this moment.. Something so personal. That’s why i love this.
What a way to start 2014, Sart. You are venturing off the sidewalks/pavements of the 1st world into another realm – that of grinding poverty as it is starkly portrayed here. Your metamorphosis would turn those interested in “marvelous shoes / scarfs / skirts/ tops / earrings / accessories” as well as “don’t call me sturdy: I am a real woman so shoot me instead of them” types away. But you know what, folks like me will stick around because there’s a feeling that I don’t know what I will see next. Serious subject matters sit well with you too.
What is his future? Would his children be waiting in various states of undress in the desert as they wait their turn to get their mother’s attention and yes, a bath? This is sad but this is what is happening in the non-glamorous parts of the world. For those in the 1st world reading this comment and nodding your heads, feel blessed for your lot in life.
Super picture. Not shocking or disturbing, not stylish or on trend. Just a great picture and as relevant to the subject’s daily life as a picture of Anna D-R on the streets of Milano or a picture of a beautiful and stylish New Yorker going about her/his daily business. Great, Scott.
It is a beautiful picture, I agree with everybody mentioning the obvious so far. But to me it is also kind of inappropriate. I feel like an intruder who nobody has welcomed into the picture. The family I observe can’t do else than show their poverty. The child is even half naked and though this is quite a natural way for a toddler to be, it feels like stepping into the privacy of a family whose poverty is exposed to a wider public. I hope you had a translator who helped to ask them if they wanted their picture to be published and I hope they understood what that implied.
i actually had two local guides while shooting the whole time in Morocco. I shot maybe 50to 100 frames in this moment during different elements of the process so the people involved were well aware of me and the intent. This just happens to be the most compelling image of the group. We asked before shooting and paid them a little afterwards so I’m very comfortable with the entire process.
What I’ve learned in shooting in places like this is that poverty is always judge by the viewers own standards. I didn’t feel any desperation in these people (the father and a daughter joined a little later) so I have begun to see the difference between poverty and living simply.
This isn’t the first or the last time a shot like this is on The Sartorialist or in my books. My blog is full of portraits of people. This one just happens to be of nomads in Morocco, the process was no different than shooting in Milan or Bali.
Ah MM, you’re spot on. We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon of judging these subjects with our “Aw how cute!” and “So sad”. We know nothing of their lives. This is a mere glimpse. Even so, it says much about how most of the world, beyond our wealthy First World cities, lives. I’m contemplating how this mother and child might view the life of a Western woman, working 12 hour days in a concrete jungle with her infant child in ‘day care’….
Hi Sart, you rock! You really have expanded my view of what is beautiful, thank you. It is not a perfect tan, a perfect body or a perfect mix of clothes and accessories. It is the fact that we all are different, from strange lands, with our own heritage and customs. Let’s try and embrace our differences as gifts ! Love always!
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again …. and a few people touched on this topic here …. you really do need a separate tab, a travelogue tab … where you capture things with your artistic eye that may have absolutely nothing to do with sartorialism, per se. Your blog has grown so much beyond mere style and fashion; you are capturing the world.
It is compelling for me to view one of your captures of poverty or struggle, for I take in each image as a whole; the people you depict; and all the secondary things like the environment, the colours, the fabrics, and yes, sure, what they’re wearing. But I don’t necessarily respond with fashion on my mind.
It is upsetting for me when people don’t “get it”, and gaily comment on “that fabulous headscarf that woman is wearing”, not realizing you are capturing a moment that has far, far deeper ramifications that sartorialism.
Please consider a new tab, or separate section, or label your travelogue photos as such … I mean, you can’t stop people from being dense … but I think it would make more sense out of the evolution of The Sartorialist.
LIZPR – a logical suggestion as expected by a public relations expert ;) However, I can appreciate the juxtaposition of this kind of content with his standard fare of style on the street and runways. Sometimes something needs to really catch one’s eye, as is obviously the case here, to make one sit down and think about the circumstances of those a world away. I don’t believe it’s Scott’s responsibility to change this woman and child’s lives, much less “save” them; the good photographer is merely a recorder of history, and her history now stands with equal footing here, at least, for us to recognize, even if for just a moment.
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree,it’s not Scott’s job to change or save anyone – I’m sorry if that implication was conveyed. A also agree he is depicting the world, and that’s what he does, and so beautifully.
PR is usually not on my mind, as I discovered this site because of a love for style … But it probably does play an influence in this conversation! :)
i am aware….your physical image depicted in shots…is carefully sculpted ….i hope u would give the same to a mother caring for her son…Diane Arbus was so sensitive to her subject, she also came from fashion background…something to be learned from her
Welcome to reality guys. I think this picture does well shaking your brain cells. It’s good to be conscious of the other side (and there are so many other sides). Do you mean that when you come here you would rather not see anything else but rich and pretty people? Come on!
And I trust the Sartorialist to get involved at some point in an amazing project. For inspiration: Salgado and Instituto Terra, Amazon Forest, Brasil:
Point well taken. Photography can transport the viewer and transform the world! But since perception of image is influenced by context (i.e. this fashion-oriented website), maybe Scott needs a new website, or sub-category within this one.
While The Sartorialist may have gotten permission to photograph this family, I don’t think he would do so (much less post) a half-naked American or European child – I also have trouble believing that the people knew the wide audience that this photo would reach. To me, this photograph feels intrusive and inappropriate for this blog.
Edward Said is rotating in his grave right now. The Sartorialist and especially the commentators here are unbelievably ignorant and hypocritical… in the year 2014(!). Applauding poor people for their choice of clothes? Seriously?
Take it down? Are you serious? I am american and I think it’s sad that I have to dress up my baby all the time or that a newborn girl wears a bikini. Come on! I wouldn’t have any problem if Scott took a picure of my son or daughter without pants or diapers. It’s the most natural thing. You should seriously watch the documentary Babies by Thomas Balmes. You can see it on youtube. You would actually feel sorry for westerners…. Good job on the picture Scott!
First of all, many parents would not mind such a young child being photographed nude or half nude, regardless of whether or not they were a western child. Second, it is possible that in this child’s culture (although I can’t say I know for sure) that nudity is not as offensive as it is to you. I doubt the mother or child felt as if they were being robbed of their dignity. They are simply being artistically observed. A nude model in a painting does not feel that he or she is being robbed of their dignity, but simply observed in their natural state.