BBC News

Nomads in Niger

image captionThe award-winning fine art and travel photographer Terri Gold is best known for her infrared imagery of indigenous cultures and rituals. "I discovered infrared film and began creating split-toned images in the darkroom but now use a digital camera converted to infrared and the digital darkroom. Working with infrared light adds an element of mystery."
image captionInspired by the work of fellow American photographer Carol Beckwith, Gold journeyed to Sahel, the semi-desert south of Sahara in Niger, West Africa, an area of restricted access to tourists, to document the Wodaabe and Tuareg nomadic communities.
image captionTravelling with three other women, Gold was guided by Leslie Clark, of the Nomad Foundation, through the ancient mud-walled city of Agadez, with its distinctive 16th Century Grande Mosque, into the desert in search of the annual gathering of nomadic communities: the Gerewol festival.
image captionThe Wodaabe and Tuareg people often spend months apart, searching out pastures for their animal herds.
image caption"The rainy season is the only time when the land is fertile enough to sustain a large group of nomads and all of their animals," says Gold.
image captionThe Gerewol celebrates the fertility the rains bring to the parched edge of the Sahara. The Wodaabe men decorate their faces and dance for hours to impress the young female judges who have been nominated to decide who will be the winner of the contest.
image caption"The men adorn themselves in cloth tightly wrapped from the waist down which accentuates their height, as well as colourful beaded and embroidered belts and headdresses with tall feathers," says Gold.
image caption"Their faces are carefully painted as the dance is not only a test of their agility and endurance, but is also a beauty contest."
image captionDrought, conflict and insurgency from al-Qaeda means this traditional celebration is rarely practised. "Days after our trip ended, we heard that al-Qaeda had spilled over the border from Libya."
image caption"I was blessed to share time with this incredibly unique group of people and to learn about their cultural traditions, communal values and ethical perspectives," says Gold.
image caption"I want to create a visual document that reminds us, and generations to come, how beautiful and diverse the human world is." All photographs by Terri Gold -