It’s always great to see a beautiful spread and layout using my photographs. Thanks to Discovery Channel Magazine and its team of editors and art directors for doing an amazing job and for making my images look that much better than they actually are. The photos are from an NGO campaign I did a while back with the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation, who provide care and services to children born with clubfoot and amputees in the remote northern provinces of Vietnam (and elsewhere). It’s a story I’ve always liked, so I’m very happy to see it getting a bit more viewers.
I know there’s been a bit of relative radio silence on my end of this blog. Sorry about that. I’ve actually been quite busy, and a lot of my present projects are still unpublished as of now, which makes it difficult to write about what I’m working on. But one cool thing is that this story for TIME magazine just went to print. About a guy named Chuck Searcy, who’s doing some pretty amazing things down in Quang Tri province, one of the most heavily bombed areas of Vietnam during the Vietnam-American War. You can read the article, written by a good friend and great writer, David Stout, here: War to Peace. I’ll try to post some of the outtakes in the next few days as well. So until then.
A few weeks back, I was in Laos covering a Japanese Encephalitis vaccination campaign with Seattle-based NGO PATH. We were working out of Xiangkhouang Province, near the historic Plain of Jars, as well as in the capital of Vientiane. Basically seeking out human interest stories amidst the vaccination effort, trying to find families who had been affected, nurses who had cared for patients, etc. We ended up with some truly heartbreaking case studies, and met two families in particular who had been devastated by the disease.
The photos here are a glimpse into the trip, from the towns we passed through to the people we met and the vaccination efforts and more. It was an eye-opening journey, and one that I won’t soon forget. Hopefully the work we were able to do will further hinder the spread of the virus, and make the country that much safer. For more information on the campaign, check out this post: Vaccines in Laos.
I’m currently in Phonsavan, Laos with a great group of people, working on a pretty cool little assignment. I can’t say much about it at the moment, only that it’s always tough making things happen in a timely manner in far away locales, but it helps having a good team there with you. Laos is no exception, and Phonsavan takes the take-it-easy mentality of the rest of the country and really runs with it. And who knew, there are tons of Vietnamese living in this province, so I can actually communicate with some people. Who knew. The above photo is a Phonsavan cityscape at dusk. I liked the little figure in the doorway, dwarfed by the surrounding town and mountains.
A few weeks back I traveled to Son La Province in the northwestern mountains of Vietnam to work with an NGO, the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation, taking photographs of amputees and children born with clubfoot, and showing the care and services they were being provided with. It was a four-day assignment that consisted mostly of driving. My iPod died on the first day.
I spent a lot of time taking pictures through windows, because I was bored from the long hours in the car and because I wanted to capture a sense of the place, to show the remoteness and isolation where these patients lived. Most of the families I met lived in areas that would conservatively be considered “off the grid”. Like two and a half hours from the nearest highway on small lanes that were half washed away from the previous day’s rain. There were times we’d need to give up the drive completely and continue on foot, or hire passing motorbikes to take us the rest of the way.
There were no addresses or street names or anything like that. We would pull over and ask people if they knew who we were looking for, and if they could point us in the right direction. We’d do this until our circle got smaller and smaller, finally honing in on a single house. Most of the villages had names, but no names that you or I have ever heard of before. Poor backwaters surrounded by rice fields and dirt paths. Everyone was a farmer. The more well-off owned pigs or chickens or goats. Every now and then some cattle.
For me, that seclusion and the inherent obstacles in overcoming such rugged distances were an important part of the story. So I tried to show a bit of that here. This is a long and meandering edit, but I wanted to see all of the images together to figure out what kind of coherence they held. I’m trying for broad strokes, to show not only people, but their relationships with their environments as well. That mirroring and reflection.