Based strictly on her photos, you might not guess that Phyllis Galembo was born in New York. But after a few seconds on the phone, her accent says it all. "I'm not a very fashionable person if you look at me," she jokes — offering one self-deprecating reason why she might be so drawn to such elaborate ritual costumes.
A selection of her photos, focused on Africa, can be found in the April issue of National Geographic — a teaser, really, for all she's captured.
The article has more, but in short: Galembo, a photography professor at the University at Albany in New York, dates her fascination with costumes back to childhood Halloween festivities. She has spent more than two decades traveling the world with a light kit and film camera and has amassed an incredible visual record of costumes, masks, ritual garb and more.
Be sure to dig around on Galembo's website, where you'll find a much bigger masquerade.