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.
those hands of fate
holding up the sky
the unrelenting ghost of yesterday
preparing for a clean slate
to rise above the level of lost
things can only look up from down here
juggling life and its twists and turns
destiny waits for no one
memories laced with teardrops
the spirit of winter
back to basics
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
Lady on her balcony in the area of Borj Hammoud, Beirut
I left my native Lebanon to New York City back in 1987. The war was still raging and the political and economic situations were highly unstable if not volatile. Today, almost 27 years later, the Lebanese struggle with rationed electricity, unstable economic and political situations, living on the brink of another war, receiving a flood of refugees from another neighbor and the only difference from then to now is how much thicker the pockets of our political leaders are getting. Corruption is their religion and money their God. How will the web of greed be ever dismantled?
birds circling Cologne Cathedral~ Germany
Wishing you all a hopeful, bright and enriching new year to come~ Thank you for your support and valued kind words in this past eventful year. Looking forward and upward. x
We find ourselves on a planet of duality; where there is day, there is also night; we wake up only to then sleep; we feel happiness only to be followed by sadness; and where there is life, there most certainly will be death.
And we feel that life is sometimes unfair, unjust and we wonder why the timings are all wrong and the big question rises in us: “what if?”. We desperately try to reverse time, to wish we had taken one step differently, that we had made a different decision, and it leaves us wondering if destiny is pre-written. We turn to religion for answers, we question our creator, we get desperately angry, then we sink into a bottomless pit of sadness, only to surrender and then move on trying to lift our head high and catch the thread of life we tossed to the side when tragedy met us.
And looking back at my posts from the week before my beautiful young brother died in his tragic accident, there were most definitely subtle signs to prepare me for this. The titles and natures of my images spoke volumes to me before the event.
“It’s later than you think” whispered the ghost of tomorrows lost~
“our fragile strengths”
This post is in honor of George Kheir, my departed young brother, a wonderfully warm, humorous, bursting with life and generous man who left a kind and beautiful family behind. May his soul rest in peace and go to where it was destined to be.
she ran into the forest and let it paint her with rays of sunshine
Winter, crisp, charged, moist, earthy, fresh, enlivening, positive…
The color of well-being.
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.
Today we had a little scare that Lea’s little finger was fractured. It was a close one, but luckily she escaped the worst. We spent some time after that looking at the X-Rays together and we were fascinated by the look of the human bone structure. It is incredible to see how much amazing engineering goes into the mechanics of the human complex, starting with the very foundation of our physical strength, our bones. And then one small accident and we can fracture that strength and spend weeks recovering. I remember breaking my arm 3 times as a child before reaching my daughters age (she is 10), and each time it felt somewhat heroic to go through the whole ordeal. And of course there was the white cast for everyone to sign :)
Photo taken of Lea through the X-Ray of her hand.