Culture Supplement

Barry Lewis in Albania in the 90s and the cartridge for the groom

"People seemed to be laughing and joking - but she is isolated", Albania. Photo: Barry Lewis
 

"The groom at this wedding in Albania had just been given the cartridge along with the dowry by the bride's father - to be used in case of betrayal or infidelity," recalls photographer Barry Lewis of a photo taken at a wedding in Albania in the 90s. He considers it the best picture he has taken

For my generation, Albania of the People's Socialist Republic was a place of mystery, both exotic and dangerous. The first time I visited was in 1990. I went with a group of journalists and archaeologists - we pretended that our visit was an "archaeological tour". We had no translator and knew maybe four Albanian words. I must say that the writer I was there with had a hard time getting interviews from people, but I, as the photographer of the group, had a fantastic trip.

We were there for several weeks, we visited municipalities, cooperative farms, as well as a tractor factory that did not produce tractors. We went all the way to Shkodër by the Bjeshke i Nemuna, but we only managed to make a limited visit to the north, in that area that intrigued me a lot.