Sunday, December 9, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Bhutanese Granny

Image Copyright © Ralph N. Childs-All Rights Reserved

This image of me chatting up a Bhutanese grandmother was photographed by Ralph Childs, a friend and participant in my Bhutan Photo-Expedition.

We were walking towards the Jambay Lakhang monastery before the start of the annual tsechu, and I was trying to convince the grandmother to allow me to photograph her...but with no success. It was in good humor, and we had many laughs as I conveyed to her that I would marry her and she'd fly back to New York City with me. I guess she understood my meaning but kept gesturing me away with flicks of her hand...naturally, to the great hilarity of her companions, who had urged her to take me up on my offer....but she wouldn't budge. Not terribly uplifting for my ego, but occasional rejection does teach one humility.

Our exceptional guide/fixer, Sagar can be seen walking behind us, keeping a wary eye on the going-ons, and wearing his traditional orange cho, the typical garb worn by most Bhutanese.

I use this photograph to make the point that travel photographers know well: to make good photographs one must make contact...establish a dialog and make friends. I saw many tourists at these festivals, photographing away from a distance...mostly standing back and unwilling/unable/not thinking of engaging the local spectators. Had they chatted with the locals, exchanging good humored banter and even hand gestures, their photographs would reflect that 'relationship', and would've come alive.

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