Patricia Willocq and her photographic project called White Ebony recently achieved two highly recognised awards. The esteemed photographer won the One Eyeland Photographer of the Year 2015 award for her evocative shot of an albino baby cradled in his Mother’s hands – this is a gold medal achievement. Her photographic book White Ebony, that was published with the help of the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF), also attained a gold medal with the Gold Book of the Year 2015 award.
White Ebony – a study of albinism in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
White Ebony contains engaging and deeply moving photographs of a stigmatised minority living in the DRC – people suffering from albinism. These individuals lack pigment in their skin, making it extremely white or mostly white with dark spots where pigment is present on the skin. They also have unusually light hair and light green or blue eyes, which may even appear red when seen at different angles. In African countries like the DRC people mostly have dark brown skins and eyes, and black hair. Those with albinism are considered abnormal and are regularly shunned by society. Besides the rejection, they also usually have problems with their vision and a severe sensitivity to the sun – often resulting in skin cancer. The photographs in White Ebony are a stunning representation of albinos seen in a different, more positive, and more gentle light.
Promoting awareness of albinism
Patricia Willocq not only takes stunning and emotionally evocative shots, she also uses her talent to promote awareness of the plight of these unfortunate individuals. Born and raised in the DRC, the photographer has travelled around the world and has made several publications and won several awards. Her first photo of a person with albinism was published in the DRC in 2013. The photo achieved an Honourable Mention of UNICEF Photo of the Year award.