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In Street Photography Expect the Unexpected~ Yunnan

 

the wagon ride

the wagon ride

After about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai to Kunming in Yunnan and sorting out the small inevitable complications like changing cars, drivers, lunch and settling everyone to a journey of unexpected events, we set off to our first stop on the workshop, the town of Shiping.

After a first night not short of adventure and discovery in the streets of the old town, we set off in the morning with the freedom one gets after leaving a questionable hotel without having to look back.

girl in wagon~ Yunnan

girl in wagon

All packed, cameras charged, armed with snacks and water bottles we set off only to discover that our bus (that we grew to love) had a flat tire. We were informed that the repairs will take longer than expected. When asked why, the answer was “people in these parts are just not efficient enough”. I swallowed the answered and decided to make the best of a bad situation.

I invited everyone to use the 2 hours to explore and we found ourselves in an unforgettable market! Photo opportunities everywhere, people, children, faces, color, it was wonderful.

on a scale of old to new

on a scale of old to new

During the time there, I was utterly charmed by a group of children who followed me around jumping, giggling, acting silly, jumping into every frame I tried to create. It then dawned in me that the best thing to do would be to just stop trying and instead of capture life, just live it. I played with them and my students photographed them and the whole affair was effervescent and a special gift to start the journey with.

how they stole the show and my heart

how they stole the show and my heart

Saima and Petra with the children

Saima and Petra with the children

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

It is wonderful to be reliving the adventure in Honghe through the stories and images as I busily plan the next one in Dali this coming June.

 

 

The Ethnic Minority Culture of Yunnan~ China

state of surrender

state of surrender

the bending force of habit

the bending force of habit

Leader of the marching band

Leader of the marching band

I returned with a small group of photographers last week to this remote region of China’s Yunnan Province that haunted me since my last visit to the area a couple of years back.

It is the type of journey you would do if you were really in love with photography and different cultures that make up pieces of the puzzle of the human story on our planet.

The journey was a great challenge from the long drives, to the heat, the spare accommodations and the great element of unknown.

It was the opening of my series of documentary photography workshops that I am doing in Yunnan and despite all the challenges we faced, I can happily call this a great success.

I will be sharing here a series of images, stories, portraits and special stories about this journey into a unique and mysterious part of the world.

Anhui Diaries~

Hongcun

Hongcun

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Long Chuan

Hongcun

Hongcun

Hongcun

Hongcun

From a recent journey to the old villages around Huangshan (yellow mountains) of China’s Anhui province, I was utterly inspired with the landscape, the feeling of calm that blankets the area and the mystical sense of being so far away from it all.

It made me think a lot about the nature of water, and reflections that are abundant in this place; the magic of seeing the world repeated, maybe for us to think twice.

A place I will happily return to.

Family Ties in the Culture of Yunnan’s Ethnic Minorities

family ties-3 ~ Yunnan family ties-4~ Yunnan family ties-5 ~ Yunnan (1 of 1) family ties-6 ~ Yunnan (1 of 1) family ties~ Yunnan family ties~ Yunnan-2 family ties~ YunnanIn my journeys into the remote villages of China’s Yunnan province, I was moved by the closeness of the older generation with the children of the tribe. Physical proximity seemed to be an easement factor relied upon in raising the children and arming them with needed confidence as they developed. Parents and grandparents went about their busy workdays with toddlers literally tied to their bodies in colorful embroidered sacks.

Something to consider in our modern world where gadgets are slowly taking the place of our warm human hugs.

Calling Home

The option to connect is there, at every moment

The option to connect is there, at every moment

For it to work, we must pick up the phone

For it to work, we must pick up the phone

We struggle all our lives to achieve higher understanding, to get closer to the truth, but most of the time we fail to make the first step.

Photos taken in Shanghai, at the Power Station of Art.

Yunnan’s Smoke Culture~ 3

Yunnan's smoke culture~_-5 Yunnan's smoke culture~_-6 Yunnan's smoke culture~_

The province of Yunnan, stretching over 394,000 square kilometers in the far southwest of the Republic of China, is rich in color, tradition and history. More than 30% of its population of 45 million is made up of over 25 ethnic minorities like the Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Miao, Mozuo and Dai people. Most of the ethnic minorities live in compact communities with rich customs and traditions that live on despite the recent economic change that takes over the Chinese mainland.

Each time I visited the region for a new photographic adventure I was drawn to capturing the very dominant smoking traditions amongst the different minorities. From he pipes that are passed on through generations, hand crafted with care and art to the large bamboo pipes, to modern day cigarettes, for good or bad, smoking lives on in Yunnan as a tribal tradition.

This post was also shared at the Huffington Post, where I blog regularly. 

Also I am very excited to announce a series of documentary workshops that I am conducting in Yunnan over the Spring and early fall of 2015. Read about it here!

Yunnan’s Smoke Culture~

Yunnan's smoke culture

man with pipe

Going back through images from a past trip to Yunnan’s Honghe area. I am planning a return visit to the region very soon. This is the first of a series on images of smoking inside the traditional life of the ethnic minorities residing in Yunnan.

Impressions From a Journey Between the Folds of Time

Sometimes life invites us into a brief interlude between the folds of time. There we see beyond the obvious, we feel more deeply and we re-evaluate our lives and where our importances lie. The past month has been just such a life changing happening and as I emerge trying to find the end of a thread I let go of, I find that a whole new selection of threads present themselves to me. I pray that I may choose wisely where to get back on the train we call destiny.

Photographs taken during the past month in Germany, Lebanon and China

More images on my instagram feed