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.

The Moment of Truth

earlier this afternoon, just when the sun was ready to sail back home

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.

The Comforts of Anonymity

passer by~ Shanghai alley

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…

Summer in the old alley~ Shanghai

smoking his way through the last hot days of summer

smoking his way through the last hot days of summer

Each time I start a new walk into one of the old alleys of Shanghai, I feel as though I am entering another world where simple life, community feeling, tradition and open communication thrive. There is a charm to the old alleys and a distinct sense of nostalgia that makes them so attractive and keeps me coming back. As long as they are there, the spirit and essence of Shanghai continue to live on.

The clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

the clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

the clouds of his mind~ Yunnan

Men puffing out tobacco smoke has become such a common daily sight for us living in China, people smoke in the rain, on bikes, while working, in classrooms, and sometimes even while eating! Yunnan was no different. The ladies smoked their pipes leisurely while the men smoked cigarettes and water pipes. The tobacco fields can be seen spread out for miles around the valleys and mountainous regions of Yunnan and the smoking traditions thrives.

This man was sitting in a small one room restaurant in a marketplace and he enjoyed his tobacco while I photographed him feeling almost proud and theatrically demonstrating his skill at exhaling the clouds above his head.

The ultimate contradiction

the ultimate contradiction ~ Tokyo

the ultimate contradiction ~ Tokyo

We struggle to protect ourselves from what we perceive as threats only to balance those threats with what gives us pleasure. We tend to somehow negotiate a deal with ourselves that makes it all ok.

loving what you do and doing what you love

fisherman~ Penang~ Malaysia

fisherman~ Penang~ Malaysia

Have you ever tried to photograph or just picture in your mind an office worker who does not like what they do, but do it only because they have to? Can you imagine the expression of discontent and almost despair on their face? I still remember having jobs before where I did a mental countdown daily until the time came that I was free to go home. How unnatural it is to live that way…

Imagine finding what you love to do and doing just that all day, every day, wishing you had more hours in the day to do it. This is how I feel about photography and my work in it. I love doing it, sharing it, learning it, teaching it, exploring the world with inquisitive eyes, mind and faculty and remaining constantly at awe of everything I see and everyone I meet.

All of this has become more and more intense since I found another photographer who shares my vision and who was willing to dive into the unknown of a new amazing project of taking our love of photography and exploring the world while sharing it with others who have the same passion.

We found and keep finding ourselves in the streets of the city, where we meet the unexpected, exchange unforgettable moments with other humans, and then capture and share bits of it with the world.

Please visit our new project ‘finding yourself in the streets’, where Tokyo photographer Michael Kistler and I are beginning our photographic adventure, and hopefully see you one day in the streets!

Please ‘like’ our facebook page if you have time and help us kickstart this exciting adventure!