In Street Photography Expect the Unexpected~ Yunnan

 

the wagon ride

the wagon ride

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~ Yunnan

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

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

how they stole the show and my heart

Saima and Petra with the children

Saima and Petra with the children

Photo of me taken by Saima with the children at the market.

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.

 

 

The Ethnic Minority Culture of Yunnan~ China

state of surrender

state of surrender

the bending force of habit

the bending force of habit

Leader of the marching band

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.

Day 31~ October 31st~ Yunnan

until the next journey~ farewell beautiful Yunnan

As harsh and as raw as Yunnan was to travel through, I am counting the days till I am able to go back there and be charmed again by its wild intensity. I have been told that the way I processed the photos of this past month has been too contrasty, too sharp, too extreme, and this is true. Yunnan for me was exactly that, rough, sharp, wild, and its lifestyle contrasting greatly with what I and most of us are used to. I feel that knowing different cultures thoroughly can only increase and deepen our humanity. So with that, I say farewell to the Honghe region of Yunnan and its colorful people and I will meet you again tomorrow with the start of a new month of images, somewhere entirely different…

Thank you for your comments, encouragement, advice and views along the way.

Day 30~ October 30th~ Yunnan

from the West to the East~ the gift of smoke

Since the 7th century in China, Opium was ingested for medicinal purposes and never smoked. Then in the 17th centurycame the Europeans and introduced the mixing of opium with tobacco to be smoked making it the most addictive practice among the Chinese. This led to the two famous opium wars and after several attempts from the Chinese to ban the import of opium, attacks on the shores of China by the British and eventually several treaties that according to historical accounts marked the beginning of the century of humiliation of this Asian nation.

Today, everywhere you look, people, young and old are smoking tobacco on the streets of China.

Day 29~ October 29th~ Yunnan

astonishment~ girl in Honghe

There are still remote places in China where white people are rarely seen and can still cause quite a reaction from the locals. One of my travel companions was blonde (considered very strange and alien in China)  and she was almost certain to draw a shriek from children in each village we set foot in along our journey into the heart of Honghe’s isolated regions. It did not help that she spoke fluent Mandarin, which caused the children to believe that she must be some sort of extra-terrestrial creature of the dangerous sort.

I loved the fact that such innocence still existed and that we were able to meet it first hand before the whole world turns into a cultural mixed soup.

Day 22~ October 22nd~ Yunnan

innocence has many faces~ girls in Mushan village~ Yunnan

Have you ever noticed how children can change expressions so fast without being hung up on the effects of each emotion they experience? We adults tend to carry baggage through our emotions that causes us to often hold grudges, feel anger, thoughts of contempt, attachment, jealousy, animosity… the list goes on. When children fight, they are able to make up in a split second and whilst we are still wondering how to solve the problem they are already hugging and running off to play again.