Coke is the drink of choice in Papua New Guinea. The two most common billboards in the country seemed to be for a mobile phone company and Coca Cola. Coca Cola was the main sponsor for the Goroka show, and throughout the country, even at roadside stalls, there were cans and plastic bottles of Coke on sale. Coca Cola has been in the news a lot recently, often to do with changing dietary habits, as consumers become more health conscious. There is also an interesting interplay between advertising to create consumer demand for products, and companies introducing or modifying products due to changes in consumer demand. Whether Coca Cola has a moral obligation to guide consumers to healthier options is an interesting question.
There are two kings of the road in Papua New Guinea, the Toyota Hilux and the Toyota Landcruiser. In a land where most roads are not surfaced, and there are highway robberies, it’s preferable to be in a vehicle that can drive around or through most obstacles.
Members of the Omena Singsing Group of the Eastern Highlands Province at the Goroka Show, Papua New Guinea
Three hero shots, three heroic highland warriors.
Another tribe that somehow I don’t know the name of. At the time I think I’d guessed they were more member of the Kunai Culture Singsing Group (shown in a previous blog), but now it is clear that they have different pattern of red, black, white and yellow face paint. For this next photograph I switched to using off camera flash to illuminate the portrait. It produces a very different style of image, and although I don’t usually go for this “lit” look when shooting travel work it is useful to add some punch and variety to the selection of images from an event.
The Gamusi Nokondi tribe, one of the most memorable groups I encountered at the Goroka Show. There’s something a little scary about the fact that there is a person hidden deep inside the undergrowth. It may take a moment to spot the fact that there is a glistening eye staring back at you from within.
It seems in this tribe that the young boys go through a premature aging process. Perhaps this is done as a way to make a child warrior look more experienced and fearsome, but I must admit it was also slightly comical. (Of course it would be less amusing if spears were being pointed in my direction.) It appears that each boy has the middle of his head shaved to give a bald spot, and then this hair is mixed with glue and applied to the face to give beards, or Wolverine style sideburns. Some boys seemed to love the new look, others were decidedly less sure.
On the second and third day of the show I was organized enough to note the names of the tribes I was photographing. Unfortunately some tribes, such as this one, slipped through the net. I’m pretty sure they are from the Mt Hagen area, but not sure of the exact name. Anyone out there in the internet able to help?
As you move away from a person it is more difficult to get eye contact and create a moment of connection between subject and photographer. In this photograph, however, the man stared right down the lens of the camera. At first glance this looks like an elderly frail man. Then you notice the veins on the muscles, the strength in his grip, and you realize he’s probably fitter and stronger than the guy on the other side of the camera.