The Albino Project

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Photos by Pieter Hugo

I love medicine and photography, but there are many obstacles to combining the two.

These images are from Pieter Hugo's The Albino Project, a collection of photographs of mostly South Africans with albinism. (This is a partial collection, but more viewer-friendly and with text.)

I find them utterly compelling, and I'm trying to tease out why.

Obviously, it's startling to see blonde Africans with fair skin. But what's unusual is that you get to take a second and third look, and don't have to be surreptitious the way you would if you sighted them on the bus. You're given permission to stare.

Maybe it's the intimate, affable quality of the portraits.

Perhaps the intrigue lies in that there are so many! Who knows enough albinos for a series?

And who would have the nerve to line up two dozen African albinos and document them, passport style?

Pieter Hugo is a South African 31-year-old award-winning photographer with a varied body of work, much of it focused on the developing world. A good part of it is medicine-related, dealing with blindness, tuberculosis in Malawi, and Cape Town men who died of AIDS.

And if medicine isn't your thing, the images from The Hyena and other Men are nothing short of thrilling.

Photo by Pieter Hugo