My name is Natnael Zemedkun. I am a medical doctor, currently working at Nordic Medical Centre. I’m a huge photography enthusiast. Photography to me is the art of preserving life; moments captured in a photograph are perfectly preserved while all-else wallows in constant flux. The range of emotions a single photo can radiate is inspiring. I use my photography to tell stories that I feel strongly about. I began taking my own photographs and digitally editing 12 years ago when I received my first cellphone. With my subjects barely discernible, I relied on the Photoshop skills of my older cousin. With his help, I managed to teach myself Photography and photo development through youtube tutorials and good old trial and error. Currently, I do freelance photography in my spare time.
I’ve developed an inclination to rural portraits in recent years. I’m especially interested in the elderly, whose facial folds and creases tell incredibly profound stories. Their features are unique to each and stand testament to the various struggles they’ve faced and overcome in their long lives. I find nothing more inspiring than a life lived raw. I love going on trips deep into rural Ethiopia, actively engaging with locals and hearing their stories.
My Creative process begins with random daily observations and being careful to take note of potential stories every time I’m struck with inspiration. I usually take time to learn and gain a good insight into my subjects. I run the story and the entire process in my head before I put things to paper. It takes me weeks before I take out my camera for a shoot.
THE LIVING is a photographic project portraying the fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons I’ve met on my travels. I’ve spent hours interacting with them, broke bread with them and met their loved ones. I’ve been awed and deeply moved by the crudity of their existence. These are portraits dedicated to all who are living the raw life, to the ones wrestling with the beast – to the living.
Although great strides have been taken in the Ethiopian creative scene; with the growing awareness and appreciation of art in the youth, Creativity still has a long way to go. To begin with, we have the general population (our own families) seeing the creative field as inferior. This translates into poor appreciation and value towards artwork. And the addition of security issues and expensive gear don’t make things any easier. I grew up in an Ethiopia where education in the sciences comes first and only a minority of parents nurtured the creative in their children. It’s time to think outside the box and that’s the path we’re on.
What makes Art African or Ethiopian
All types of art are endowed with their own personalities and feel, once complete they become totally different entities from their creator. I believe ART, whether photography or dance, painting or music should be defined by what it portrays. It’s not the creator of the process of creation that defines art, rather the theme, and medium that bring it to life along with the style, culture, and story it depicts.
In this regard, I would say what makes Ethiopian ART Ethiopian is its Ethiopian personality. The array of colors, the cultural signs and symbols, and most importantly its Ethiopian perspective on the message it reveals.