Category Archives: Portraiture

Hmong Grandmother

I’ve always felt comfortable—if not occasionally a bit of a spectacle—in remote villages in Laos. When a Hmong-American English teacher asked me if I would like to visit her grandmother in her village about 15 kilometers outside of Phonsavan, I jumped at the chance.

Photo Hmong Grandmother #1

And you are?

She was wonderful. Not only did she warm up to me quickly, she wasn’t shy about the camera in the least. I asked her granddaughter twice to make sure she didn’t mind, and it rapidly became apparent that she was at ease with the large (I’m a little over 6′ and about 205 pounds; I estimated her to be about 4′ 9″ and maybe 75 pounds dripping wet.), strange man sitting quite close to her and pointing a very large camera at her. My friend thought that I might have been the first caucasian person to have ever visited her village…

Photo Hmong Grandmother #4

Comfortable with me…

Nobody knows for sure, but she is most likely in her early- to mid-eighties. She had a wonderful vibrancy about her—curious and laughing away at her granddaughters’ chatter. When I showed her one of the photos I had taken of her, she said with mild disdain You should photograph younger people.

Photo Hmong Grandmother #2

Laughing at her granddaughters’ chatter.

There was a cooking fire in the house that had turned to embers and tiny bits of ashes were blowing around in the hot afternoon air. We wandered off for a bit to visit the other relatives’ houses and when we returned she was asleep and snoring softly. I didn’t want to wake her, but she had instructed her other grandchildren to wake her up when we returned.

Photo Hmong Grandmother #3

Thinking about the past, thinking about the future.

As we left I said to her the only sentence in Hmong that I know: Shii gii doua (roughly: See you later). I think she found that very amusing—a falang that speaks Hmong! She gave me a huge smile and wished me good health as we left.

Hmong Grandmother.

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Travel Tagged , |

That when a photograph of you doesn’t look like you…

Robt Sarazin Blake

Robt Sarazin Blake

I’m always interested when a photo of me doesn’t look like me.

Robert said this to me when we were doing a rough edit of the images we had just finished shooting. I had been wanting to photograph him for a couple of years, but the timing was never right. I had had an idea of the exact composition beforehand—I wanted him dressed in the same suit that you can see him performing in here, sitting in a low chair (my friend Walter had this sun-bleached chair outside for several years; when he sat in it one day, a leg broke, so he sawed the other three to match—I’m obsessed with the color), with his pant legs being pulled up above his boots by the low position, and crouching forward with his arms on his knees. The pose came from the Greek statue called The Boxer of Quirinal, but I always associated with the name Thom Jones gave it in his blunt-force-trauma collection of short stories The Pugilist At Rest.

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Also posted in Black and White Photography, Thinking About... Tagged |

From The Archive: Black And White Nude #1

Another black and white nude of Angie from the short series Bangkok Personalities:

 

From The Archive: Black And White Nude #1

Angie: Black And White Nude

Also posted in Black and White Photography, From The Archive, Nude Photography Tagged , , , |

New Gallery: Nude Panoramas

These nude panoramas are more of an experiment than a project, per se. I’m not sure I’m going to continue with the idea, but I may in one form or another. These panoramas are stitched from several portrait oriented images, so they can be printed quite large—up to 20″ x 60.” You definitely have a whole different experience when you see one of these printed large. They were shot with my Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens, and I love how it reproduced the model (thanks Kelly!) and the string of lights in the background. Check out the gallery here.

Photo Of Nude Panoramas

New Gallery: Nude Panoramas. 

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Panoramic Photography Tagged |

New Gallery: Portraits Of Médecins Sans Frontières Staff In Laos

For three months during the beginning of 2013 I was with a team from Médecins Sans Frontières* and photographed in the hospitals and health centers in the Houaphan Province in north-eastern Laos. What most people don’t know about MSF is that they aren’t just staffed by doctors and nurses. They bring in all types of specialists in order to carry out their mission.

photo Médecins Sans Frontières

Jon! Come have some tea with Mohan and me…

What I’m quite upset about was that I did not get the chance to photograph the national staff: our Lao and Hmong counterparts for which the project would have never begun. All together an amazingly talented team and truly a special group of people.

See the new gallery here.

*That’s Doctors Without Borders for the American readers.

Portraits Of Médecins Sans Frontières Staff In Laos.

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Humanitarian Photography, Jon Witsell Photographic Arts Tagged |