Wat Choum Khong, Luang Prabang, Laos, 2006
It’s been a couple of months since I posted any of my travel photos, so I thought I’d remedy that today.
For the past few years, I’ve been donating photographic prints to the annual benefit auction held by Friends Without a Border, a non-profit organization that raises money to support a children’s hospital in Cambodia. As Friends has recently opened a health clinic in Laos, I thought it would be appropriate this year to donate a photo that I made in that country.
The photo that I agreed to donate is the one above, made at a Buddhist Temple, Wat Choum Khong, in Luang Prabang, Laos – the former royal capitol of that country. I made the image on my first trip to Laos in 2006 and is one of my favorites from that country. The young monk happened to be standing in just the right spot, centered in the middle of the doorway in the background. It was a moment in time, and I got it.
The story doesn’t end there, however. In 2008, I returned to Laos and Luang Prabang. As I sometimes like to do, I wanted to return to this temple and this particular spot to see what it looked like after two years time. It took a while but I did manage to find it among the many temples in that beautiful town. When I got there, I saw a monk holding a small dog, so I made a photo. I still wanted to get something that would be closer to my 2006 photo, so I waited. The monk didn’t get into the same position as the previous one, and the open door didn’t help, but he was close to the spot, so I made a photo of that, too, for comparison.
The other thing of note that happened was the surprise, so to speak, of seeing the scene in living color. I had become so accustomed to looking at my 2006 photo in black & white that, in my mind, that particular scene – the porch, the floor, the columns – really did exist in black & white. Going to look at again and seeing it with my eyes in color was a bit jarring.