When I travel, I love to ‘give back’ to people by sending them pictures when I can. If they have an email address, it’s great, but sometimes I have to make a print and mail it – and hope it gets to them! I came across this image yesterday when organizing, and it reminded me of the value of sending pictures.
When we arrived at this Dzong (monastery) in Bhutan, the students were on break. I asked to see the classroom during this time, and when I saw the light pouring through the window I knew it had good photo potential. So I asked permission for my group to stay on the side and photograph during class. They were willing to allow that, and we made some terrific pictures. (see small image below). When we were finished, the teacher asked if we could make a picture of the whole class. I was thrilled to do so, but when we got outside the ‘class’ kept growing – and I think even the head llama of the dzong is in there! How do you say “look at the camera” in Bhutanese? You don’t – you say it in English, because they are learning English in school! But people are people and managing a group this size is downright difficult. So you make a lot of exposures and choose the best one. I mailed it off and hoped they got it. This past trip in Fall ’09, they remembered me so that was a great feeling to know that they appreciated the photographed so much. I realized it also paved the way for more photo opportunities for my present group. But most importantly, it was a way to say ‘thank you’ for the experience of watching them practice their prayers.
Nothing beats the ‘instant give-back’, though. Bob Krist wrote about this cool accessory recently, and I ran out to Radio Shack to buy it immediately! The Polaroid Pogo is an instant printer – very portable, and it prints just 2×3″ pictures using instant print paper. It would be way too small for the group photo above, but for the individual portrait or a group of 2-3 people, it will be wonderful! I can’t wait until my next adventure to use it. It runs about $60 with printer and extra pack of paper, to give you 20 sheets to start out. Check it out if you like to travel and make upclose pictures of people.
P.S. I am running my own photography tour to Bhutan Sept 29-October 12, 2011. I have partnered with a Bhutanese-owned travel agency here in the states, who is fully sanctioned by the Bhutanese government. Working on final pricing now, which will be around $5200. Why Bhutan now? Because the country will change, now that they are open to the outside world and inviting more tourism. Yes, they are still working on keeping a fairly tight control on how many visitors, etc. but outside influences have already begun to show in the country. I believe going sooner than later will give you a real experience of the true nature and culture of Bhutan. I expect this tour to fill, so don’t wait too long! Send me an e-mail to just to confirm your spot and I’ll send more information soon about when deposits and other information will be due.