an image of me meeting a local woman and child, taken by a good friend on an adventure in Yangshuo, China, a few years back.
How gratifying it is to explore the spinning sphere we call home. Each time I plan a new trip, I feel a bubbling of excitement at the unknown that would undoubtedly meet, the amazing people who cross my path and the images my camera would capture. It is as soul nourishing journey when I am far from my routine, away from the usual comforts of home and when I get the chance to push the limits of what I know. It makes me think of how knowledge was collected prior to the industrial revolution and the schooling systems that created machines for the industry; before that time knowledge was sought through experience, apprenticeship and exploration. What an incredibly esoteric experience.
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
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
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
Saima and Petra with the children
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.
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.
Behind the facade of every city is the part where real life happens. In Asia, these are the little alleys. Exploring these narrow streets and peeking at the daily acts of living that make up what a culture is about, making eye contact with the locals, having simple conversations, exchanging smiles, glances, sometimes giggles, being invited to homes, this all feels as if you are putting your finger on the pulse of the city and its people. This is what makes street photography for me the most rewarding adventure in both travel and photography. It is all about meeting real people in candid moments and that is where their truth lives.
All rich moments in life become richer when shared with a good friend, a companion…
The journey to Egypt was a unique adventure in so many ways and most of the uniqueness came from the great feeling of sharing and fraternity with friends of like minds searching together. The stories of that trip are divided between the memories of 25 or more friends, and the story would best be told if they were to be quilted together. This is why in my heart of hearts I know that my story is incomplete, and that to add to it the accounts of my companions, it would crystalize into a multifaceted gem. We humans thrive on companionship, on relations with other humans who walk similar paths and on the exchanges we can have with people that we feel kinship with.
I do miss Egypt so much but I miss the friends who were with me on that trip even more. This post is dedicated to them, my companions in Egypt.
Do you still remember the little spots you played in as a child? A garden, a little forest, a neighborhood alley perhaps? I still do, I remember the trees we climbed, the little houses we built, the small fires we made, the pretend coffees we cooked, and it all felt so huge, like our own little country where only us children could be its citizens and its residents. I love watching Lea with her friends as they live in such worlds of their own, where discovery and adventure lives in the simple things, the things we adults step on and ignore in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. I treasure these times when I can be a spy into their secret worlds, especially now that they are so used to the camera being an extension of my face that I am completely ignored 🙂
photo taken: Lea and Valerie on one of their afternoon expeditions in Shanghai