/ Annika Haas / Photo story

We, the Roma

As a portraitist and a documentary photographer I am drawn to portraying people in the environments they create – the tight, closed, yet safe places humans inhabit. This interest has shifted the main focus of my work to social and cultural minorities, as margins often tend to be more colourful, their stories more engrossing than those of the mainstream. I am enchanted by the ability of marginal groups and individuals to create their own rules and logic for functioning in spite of the ruling norms. The environmental “cocoons” the minority groups dwell in give their inhabitants the distinctive appearance that can be reflected in photography. Among the groups I have captured are Gypsies or Roma people.

Roma people are Estonia’s least known and most mysterious minority. Like Jews, the fate of gypsies has been rough – they have always been haunted, discriminated, and destroyed, but, unlike Jews, they have never been fully rehabilitated, so the discrimination of Gypsies continues. The public tends to mistrust them and regards them suspiciously, although they don’t know their habits and traditions. This tiny nation is excluded from society both socially and economically. This photo series is a self-reflection of Gypsies that they themselves offered to the photographer.

Annika Haas (1974) is an Estonian documentary and portrait photographer based in Tallinn. This year she won a Grand Prize in Estonian Press Photo 2014 contest. Annika has been published in The Washington Post, Lens Culture Magazine, Freundin, Aamulehti and others.