Every new journey gives me a renewed set of reasons to do what I love to do. I love the art of photography. Time stops when I am in the streets of a new place, meeting people, looking through their eyes, watching them from a distance as they do what they do, and feeling a rising sense of excitement at being part of it all. In my recent trip to the region of Yunnan around Dali, I had a lot of time to reflect and to ponder what it is about photography that keeps me traveling, venturing and adventuring in search of human connection. It came to me one early morning just before sunrise, it is the soul of the place, that is what meets me at those special moments and gives me permission to capture its magic. You may give it any other name you wish, for me, it’s the soul.
She Bashfully Ran in a Swoosh of Color
state of surrender
the bending force of habit
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.
wearing her story ~ Yunnan
Every stitch on her costume, every threaded bead she decorates herself with, every wrinkle on her face plays a part in telling her story, a life so different to ours, a world so alien to 21st century culture, an existence rising out of old traditions, she belongs to a tribe that allows strangers no access. All I could capture was the sense of her presence and the few photographs that I always hope could link to the state of standing in front of these amazing people.
stories of times gone by~ Yunnan~ Yi woman
It is such a common sight in Yunnan to see these strong women from the Yi ethnic minority with pipes lit in their mouths puffing at tobacco smoke around the streets, markets and village homes. The pipes are hand crafted and each woman holds on to hers for life proudly. When I asked about the place where we can buy one, I constantly received puzzled looks, “you don’t buy these, you get one made for you when you come of age”!
from the heart~ yunnan~ China
A woman from the Yi ethnic minority with her traditional square hat laughing with all her heart at the market after my friend showed her her image on the camera screen.
I am just back from a photographic adventure in Yunnan and Sichuan near Lijiang, China. I had the chance to visit the Yi, Mosuo and Naxi minorities in their traditional remote villages. I will be posting a series of portraits from the rich and strange life of the people of that region in the next few weeks.
The beautiful yao~ on the Longji ricefields
The Yao, one of the 54 recognized ethnic minorities in China, number over 2 million and retain today many of their original traditions. Bright colors and silver adorn them and mountains are their preferred settling places. They form part of the colorful mosaic that China is.
The long haired women of the yao minority
No one is allowed to see her hair until she marries, each Yao woman can carry around her head up 1.9 meters of hair wrapped around like a crown. If a young man happens to catch sight of a girl’s hair, then he must invite her to live with his parents as a bride for 3 whole years. Another of our wonderfully colorful human traditions and another chapter in the mystery of hair.
those colorful people of the world
With every passing year, with each journey into the far away places, I pray that these colorful people of the world are still there, being celebrated, appreciated and not become integrated into a characterless soup of grey humanity.