Birte Kaufmann

The Travellers – Ireland’s Biggest Minority Group


My ongoing photography project “The Travellers”, gives insight into the everyday life of Ireland’s largest minority group. This group has a nomadic origin, stemming from the tradition of migrant workers. As this tradition no longer exists, the travellers are looking for a new identity within the Western European society of the 21st century. Both the travellers’ traditions and their way of life are so different that they are met with little acceptance by the rest of the Irish society. The travellers live in a kind of parallel world with rules all of its own and traditional gender roles, a world to which outsiders have little access.
To this day, some traveller families live by the roadside illegally – mostly without electricity, running water or sanitation, even though the government has provided halting sites for the travellers where they can stay with their caravans.



In the summer of 2011, I travelled the first time to Ireland with a VW bus in order to photograph the travellers. I wanted to capture the travellers’ way of life and their values in pictures. In doing so, I did not want to romanticize them, but rather show their everyday life. A life where people still hunt rabbits and where horses play a vital role. But it is also a life that contains hardship and boredom from an early age.
Since my first encounter with the travellers, I have been in touch with one large family. Over time, I have gained their trust. Consequently, I was allowed to live with them so that I and my camera became part of their daily lives.



Birte Kaufmann is born 1981 in Germany. She lives and works as a freelance photographer in Berlin/ Germany.
She focuses on photojournalism and documentary photography related to social and society relevant issues.
From 2009 to 2012 she studied photography at Ostkreuzschule fur Fotografie und Gestaltung in Berlin/ Germany. Graduation October 2012.
From 2003 to 2006 she studied socialwork with the focus on media pedagogics at Fachhochschule Cologne/ Germany. Gratuation August 2006.
So far her work were shown in several solo and group shows and festivals in Germany and around the world.
She won several awards like the CNN Journalist Award 2014 in the category Photo or the PDN annual 2013 and recieved in 2012  the VG Bildkunst artist`s grant and in 2013 the Wuestenrot documentary photography sponsorship award.


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Birte Kaufmann





4 thoughts on “Birte Kaufmann – The Travellers – Ireland’s Biggest Minority Group”

  1. Amazing how an essay on hardship can become a work of such beauty. Perhaps because there is beauty in the human will to survive and continue on, regardless?

    Tough decisions for judges. I don’t ever want to be a judge for any kind of photo competition.

  2. Man that’s good. I can’t believe the access you got. Travellers do seem a world apart. Half of the pictures are nearly perfect, wonderful work.

  3. Peter David Grant

    This is incredible.

    I was so looking forward to seeing the full essay when the winners where announced. Needless to say, your work has not disappointed at all. One of the best essay’s I’ve ever seen.

    I echo Frostfrog here, how difficult a task it must be for a judge.

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