Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big River

Before we introduce this new work to you, I'd like to take a moment to remember my Aunt Lorene Joslin, who passed away peacefully in Springfield, Missouri this past weekend. A minister to the deaf and a woman of great faith, who spoke with her hands and her heart, she will be missed by our families. I'd like to dedicate the photograph you see here, made last October in Laos, to her memory. It's one of my very favorites, and I hope she'll like it.

One of our adventures last fall was a three day trip up the mighty Mekong from the Thai border to Luang Prabang last October with the classy boat outfitters Luang Say. We shot the story for Budget Travel's spring "Dream Trips" issue.

James is fond of telling people that two things are true of Laos, first, that we would never in a million years have thought we'd get the opportunity to go there twice, each October we've been in Asia--it's just so far away feeling. Second, the town of Luang Prabang is the rare place where you can close your eyes and know right where you are: the smell of the river and the spicy food, the sounds of chanting, bells, and bicycles, the soft mountain air on your face. We'd gladly spend a lifetime sitting in front of Le Banneton, munching on croissants and coffee, getting to know the young monks of Wat Saen, and smiling back at the golden Buddha across the road.
Our boat stopped over at a small fishing village near Pakbeng. The Khamu (or Khmu), one of the largest ethnic groups in Laos (a place of many ethnicities), live communally in small villages along the river, trading products, fish and rice in the market in Luang Prabang.

It's become an integral part of our photographic practice to give back to the people we photograph by making polaroids after the shooting's done. So without further ado: a video of our happy afternoon among the Khamu.