Sunday, May 20, 2012

3 Degrees of Separation

For my birthday, my husband honored my request and purchased a photo book about Tibet for me titled, Tibet: A Culture on the Edge by Phil Borges,  It was great to get a broader look at the place I was going.

What was equally amazing was that Phil's name had been given to me about 3 yrs prior as someone who did NGO/Non-profit photo work.  His name sat in my notebook but I had never contacted him.

Next step, secure my copy of Lonely Planet Tibet and began digging it.  Which part of Tibet did I want to go to.  Back to my buddy Jim Spillane who recommended the Region of Kham.

Before any trip I always study the photo on the professional Web Sites e.g. Getty Images.  I was most intrigued by the Horse Festival where the Nomads come together especially in the summer to show off their horse racing skills.  

Equally visual are the women who are all decked out in amazing silk clothing with obscene amounts of large silver, turquoise and silver jewelry. I cannot fathom where and how they secure such thing - I can only assume passed down from mother to daughter.  Yup, I thought this was for me.  I will use 2 Horse Festivals as the anchor point of my trip.

In parallel I scoured & contacted all of the travel agencies listed in the Lonely Planet.  I knew that I wanted to spent no less than 3 wks in Tibet.  The group trips were 1 or 2 wks apiece.  Not good.  Besides,  I don't like to travel with other tourists. To me shooting is all about my relationship with the subject, and is about being "present" and observing, not about running around on a pre-set time schedule.

 One caveat, you must have a guide  and lots of permits over & beyond the ordinary Chinese Visa to travel in any part of Tibet.

 One caveat, you must have a guide  and lots of permits over & beyond the ordinary Chinese Visa to travel in any part of Tibet. OK.  So now what do I do?  I hit the Lonely planet Blog, Thorn Tree Travel Forum & starting making enquiries. How, how much,  where.....  It was here that I found the single and most important piece of my trip.  A post by Phil Borges stating , "Not all Guides are Created Equal"..... Here is where my relationship with my beloved guide named Lumbum began.

Carpe Diem,



It's hard to image that it is over two years since my last big trip and blog entry.

In November 2010 I was on assignment on behalf of  the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for a quick trip down to Guatemala.  A very interesting place photographing the Mayan Indians living in a very small and relatively closed community in Santiago Atitlan. 

Guatemala aside I have been Stateside doing both commercial & print related photography since my 3 month trip to Myanmar, Vietnam & Thailand.

In the summer of 2011, I was getting a lot of questions about Tibet.  No, "I hadn't been there" but making it my next trip seemed to make sense. A natural extension of my interest in Ethno-centric travel photography in Asia which I love so much.

In the same time frame time I befriended another travel photographer, Jim Spillan while at the Uptown Art Festival in Minneapolis, MN.  After returning home,  I called Jim during which time we had a marathon conversation- him telling me about Tibet & me telling him about Myanmar.  

By early November I had committed to traveling and explored a few final alternatives: "the Stans", Tibet or Mongolia.  In the same time frame I also purchased a fabulous large print of a Tibetan Woman taken by Jim.  She now hangs in my home, joining the work of many other wonderful travel images taken by my friends.

Over Thanksgiving I was sent additional guidance.  While visiting my in-laws in Ashville NC, I made a side trip to a small artist community in Blackrock NC.  In this traditional, Southern town specializing in mountain crafts I stumbled up a coral Sherpa necklace and small prayer wheel.  Both had been brought to the USA by a Tibetan Buddhist monk and were for sale in this art gallery. How curious. I bought them both.   

No question, Tibet was where I was going.

Carpe Diem,