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!
seated worker on a smoke break
puffing in contemplation
her colorful pipe~ a family tradition
A few more portraits in this series as I travel through an extensive archive of photographs from Yunnan revisiting a world so different to yours or mine.
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.
back to basics
juggling life and its twists and turns
things can only look up from down here
preparing for a clean slate
memories laced with teardrops
the spirit of winter
the unrelenting ghost of yesterday
to rise above the level of lost
those hands of fate
destiny waits for no one
holding up the sky
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
earlier this afternoon, just when the sun was ready to sail back home
There is a moment, a split second, when you are with your camera in the streets, and a moment you were hoping for surrenders itself to you. I am referring to that brief time before your subject has a time to react to your lens. I love that magical click that finds the person inside of their essence; a line of connection between you, the lens and the person.
Looking for recyclables in city streets
As the holidays approach fast, I dedicate my post today to those who work harder than most, who see no retirement day in their near future, and who bear the weight of life and the passing of years. They are all around us, patching up the holes in our social structure, tirelessly moving because stopping is not an option.
passer by~ Shanghai alley
Anonymia, Greek for nameless, the state of us urban dwellers to each other. This suggests that our names define us and and who we have become in so many different ways. Being a stranger in the big city can be so comforting to those of us who opt for this lifestyle. We can be who we want to be if we choose to; those that don’t know us cannot fix us with their preconceptions, and this gives us room to grow and to change if we are so inclined.
Yes, it might be time for a name change…
Earlier this evening from the car window
We face the world day after day, week after week, we get shuffled around in lines, into cars, buses and trains, we get bombarded with information and visual stimuli; and the only thing that keeps us sane is the inner sanctum of our lives. We manage to keep parts of us hidden somewhere deep inside, guarded, protected and fortified. In public we wear our outside face, the one we save for the daily battle.
Our inner lives just wait for us to take them to a forest, a beach, a walk in nature, just to have a moment out of confinement, a break from our self-created prisons.
Have you ever been lost in the process of your art? Have you ever visited that place where time stands still and you are transported on the wings of creativity? So much peace attends this state and it is a wonderful gift to be in the presence of its happening.
Isn’t that why we chase art from place to place and beg to be in its world? Photos are of my daughter inside the state of her music earlier this evening.
in the joy of doing
In a world of texting, emailing, and ‘elf yourself’ video cards sent around for Christmas, it is so amazingly soothing to go back to basic crafts and to spend hours cutting, coloring, gluing and handwriting Christmas cards for loved ones. I suspect that as we speed into the future, taking the time to be invested in hand-made craft projects will be a thing of the past, when most things as we know them would be mass-produced and the charm of uniqueness lost forever. The last two days, we took the time, we played Christmas songs, created cards, ate cookies and had lovely long conversations. Another memory for the treasure box.