Arts & Culture

Beaufort photographer captures emotional shot in South Sudan

"Broken" Submitted photo

The South Sudan is a beautiful yet troubled country. The beauty of the fertile grasslands and rain forests are juxtaposed against scenes of violence and poverty.

Beaufort photographer John Wollwerth has been traveling with his church, Seaside Vineyard Fellowship, to the newly formed African country, taking photos along the way. One of those, "Broken," won best in show at the Photography Club of Beaufort's semiannual spring competition.

Wollwerth explains how "Broken" came about.

Question. How did you get involved in South Sudan?

Answer. I've been to South Sudan three times. (Seaside Vineyard) is in the middle of a 10-year commitment right now -- to help with church-planning and humanitarian projects.

Q. Explain what's happening in the photo.

A. The man in the picture was praying that the man he is in public is the same man he is in private. That he would have purity in his life.

It's kind of difficult to imagine there. ... Because of decades of civil war there's this mentality of get what you can get now.

Jesus said: "Do unto others as you would unto yourself." It's a hard concept because they've been beat down for so long. So this man wasn't sure he could be that man. He was broken-hearted.

Q. What was the context?

A. It was inside a church -- cinder block, open windows and such. ... There was teaching going on, and at the end of the teaching they were just praying. He just became really broken down.

Q. Did you know you had a good shot when you took it?

A. I saw that something was going to happen, and I set up for what was about to happen. I was there all day pretty much. I had been shooting in the back behind people. When I started to hear this, I got around front.

Q. How did people react with you and the camera?

A. In this particular instance there was so much going on, so I really wasn't noticed. I tend to shoot with a long-angle lens and not try to be in people's faces. I try to be as discreet as possible.

Overall, it really depended on where I was. The way things have gone, I don't think the country ended up the way they wanted it to be. Things have gone downhill, and they're a bit embarrassed. So it's become harder to take photos.

Things seem to be getting better in some ways, and in others not so much.


John Wollwerth Photography

South Sudan profile

The Photography Club of Beaufort

VIDEO: More about Seaside Vineyard Fellowship's mission to South Sudan