INTRODUCTION TO GALLERY
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INTRODUCTION TO LAOS GALLERY
Hilltribe peoples in Northern Laos and Buddhism in Luang Prabang: Akha boys roll bicycle tires down the dirt path leading into their village, a Lenten girl stands in her dusty clothes with a woven wood basket on her back in a doorway, a group of small Hmong children pose, well sort of, for a photo, a young Hmong girl shows off her New Year’s clothes while her mom looks on, two older Akha men, teeth ravaged by years of chewing betelnut, squat wearing long sleeve shirts and slacks with flip flops on their feet and short towels tied around the top of their heads, two young men carry a cow’s head and some gizzards down the road from a pole slung over their shoulder, a Khmu woman carries a bunch of reeds over her head as she enters her village, several small pigs and a chicken meander in front of a hut as a small boy without pants climbs up into it, an Akha boy stares in your direction holding a simple, handmade toy, four young Tai Dam boys walk down the side of the road, one with a slingshot round his neck, pushing long bamboo polls that have two wheels at the base so they can roll them, a boy riding a water buffalo on the side of a road; Tai Dam, Lenten, Akha and Hmong women in their traditional clothing; elephants receiving a bath; traditional, wooden puppets, auto-rickshaws, a peddler woman carrying her wares in baskets held from a pull she carries over her shoulder, and a group of teenage boys with their Chinese-made motorbikes in Luang Prabang; lion statues guarding the gates of a monastery in Muang Sing; monks, statues, wooden bells, flags, and decorative roofs on monasteries in Muang Sing and Luang Prabang.
My favorite photos from this gallery are probably the black and white shots: LA03 and LA05; and the color shots: LA15, LA34, and LA41. The Hmong children pictured in [LA03] had my attention as I walked through their village and so I asked them go gather in a quick impromptu group so I could take their picture. The fact that two of the girls were either hidden or partially hidden and the others posed haphazardly though all at attention—except for the littlest child being held perhaps by his older brother—reflect the time and the place better than if I had labored to better compose them. Older men react to their picture being taken by a stranger in different ways, the friendliness of these two Akha men [LA05] squatting while they wait for transportation to take them somewhere with tentative smiles on their faces, teeth suffering from age and betelnut (note the man on the right-hand side’s cheeks are sunken in), a bag being held in between one man’s legs and the structure made of natural materials found nearby in the background tells a story. The two Hmong girls pictured in LA57 and LA15 were walking down the road together carrying umbrellas as protection against the sun’s rays. I think girl/young woman with her hint of a smile and perfect symmetry of features possessed a quality of beauty that is not often recognized but obvious. All four Buddhist students pictured on the steps of building at Wat Siphoutthabat Thippharamt in Luang Prabang were aware I was taking their picture though three turned away in embarrassment. I particularly love the way the blue sky is reflected on the lower white wall and steps and the way it contrasts with the nearly glowing saffron robes, framed as they are with the gold accented red shutters and frame above them.