Beyond the stereotypes and cliches, little is known to most of the world of the customs and traditions of the Gypsies. Traditionally perceived as strangers, surrounded by distrust, they have always existed in isolated groups on the margins of developing European communities. But their contribution to the general cultural heritage, especially in music, dance and various handicrafts, is unquestionable.
I have tried to make a plea for tolerance towards those whose lifestyles, religion, and rituals differ from our own. My journeys, tracing the lives of present-day Gypsies in ten countries, have confirmed my earlier belief that little has changed for the Romany. It seems that we have not yet learned the lesson of tolerance toward people who live differently from ourselves.—Tomasz Tomaszewski
Tomasz Tomaszewski is a press photographer whose work has appeared in Stern, Paris Match, GEO, New York Times, Time, Fortune, Vogue, Die Zeit and Elle. He’s been contributing to National Geographic for over twenty years and has published 18 photographic essays for the magazine. Tomaszewski currently teaches photography in the United States, Germany, Italy, and Poland, where he is based.