Chasing spirits~

These recent images from my Instagram page have been titled “chasing spirits”, and for the first time I find myself seeing a distinct line running through these street portraits that were taken by me in different Asian countries but solicit the same emotional reaction from me. There is something that draws me in to the internal processes of strangers through the maps of their faces, the history recorded in their eyes and the roadmaps of their lives in every line and wrinkle that cause me to pause and wonder: what drives me to chase these images and irks me to go to more places and stop, look and capture? It’s a strong driving force that never relents and I am hoping that after the chase, the cause may reveal itself. It’s a journey of passion and every moment brings me closer to myself…

The cloud maker~

During this weekend in Germany and other north European countries, bonfires are lit in celebration of the easter weekend. I have been asking locals about the origins of this tradition as well as Mr Google and it seems to be a pre-Christian ritual that welcomes the spring by burning away the lurking darker spirits of winter. It is amazing how much of what we believe in and do has lost it’s original significance and is relegated to a “feel good” thing to do. Imagine how life would be if all our beliefs and traditions were alive!

Day 87 of 365~

Images taken today at the edge of a nearby forest somewhere in Germany.

Qibao, Inside the Time Capsule

unbreakable friendships~ Qibao

unbreakable friendships

Time's indellible stamp~ Qibao

time’s indelible stamp

stolen sketches of a lost theater~ Qibao

stolen sketches of a lost theater

breaking ground~ Qibao

breaking ground

If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you~ Qibao

if I wanted your opinion I’d give it to you

softening the hard reality~ Qibao

softening the hard reality

who said Triad~ Qibao

who said Triad?

a controlled sea of humanity~ Qibao

a controlled sea of humanity

Hidden inside the massively dense Shanghai Metropolis is a quaint, albeit crowded small world of tradition. Bridges over water, narrow old streets, a wide variety of delicious street food and a beautiful old tea house.

In the tea house, mostly old men gather to drink tea and watch story telling theaters on a stage that echoes with ancient times.

Each time I go back there, I find the same people, doing the same things, as though they are caught in a time capsule and every day must be relived as it was the day before.

Nearby are the green lanes, where door after door girls and women offer their services for a price. Tickets to their worlds are sold on the main street of the old village.

Heartbreaking, surreal and intoxicating is Qibao.

Yunnan’s Smoke Culture~ 3

Yunnan's smoke culture~_-5 Yunnan's smoke culture~_-6 Yunnan's smoke culture~_

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!

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.

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.