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humans across worlds
This photographic exploration is a tightrope act, balancing the diverse complexity and unifying simplicity at the heart of the human condition. People live vastly different lives across the world, but the more so within one nation, region or group. Everywhere you find the same distinctions: optimists and pessimists, introverts and extroverts, folks lending hands and those using elbows, dreamers and doers, dreaming doers. Playdough in the hands of nature, nurture, and our own decision making, we are formed into all sorts of character shapes, steered by the same drives. These conspicuous similarities, our universal differences, unite us as one species of monkey merely disguised in a human wardrobe. In the same breath, our distinct experiences assemble unique minds, feelings and memories - our very own worlds.
photos | people
what a fine blend we are
This collection is a blender, so watch out that you don’t end up in it one day. see more
photos | people
The Observer Effect: Momentary Momentum
...the camera’s skill to freeze the momentary momentum in-between scenes is nothing short of miraculous and reminds me of a quirky phenomenon in the quantum realm: the observer effect. see more
photos | people
we all have one
All of us have arrived at this moment by traveling a different story. Our narratives have been full of forks, twists and turns, shortcuts and detours, but here we are to intersect with each other in the now. see more
photos | people
That’s Funny – Candid Mirror
tickled by humor, the self surfaces
Only ever living in one head, knowing what’s going on in another, is anyone’s guess. The best clue we can get is candor – genuine emotion bursting out of facial expressions and wild gestures... see more
photos | people
when your office isn’t anywhere near an office
...nobody robbed us of our freedom; it was an inside job we signed up for. Outside jobs, by contrast, are not always a deliberate choice and oftentimes the harder labor, but they come with a certain spatial freedom... see more
photos | people
Not Pity-Poor: Grace of the Life Lottery's Runner Ups
fortitude and perseverance forged in a hard place
The people you see here are poor, but not pity-poor. They have less – much less – but they have lives and smiles like anyone else. They don’t need an outsider’s soft pat on the back to uplift them... see more
glimpse: FOOD FOR THOUGHT | Austerity is a narrow gateway. Most material possessions are too bulky to fit through. The flood of overindulgence is too wide to pass it whole. Merely a humble iota of societal diversions makes it to the other side and accompanies the Buddhist monk on his path to raw consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. Only after shaving off all distractions delivered by the senses, the innermost mind is sharpened into necessary focus for the journey inwards. But concentration goes only as far as the belly is full. The blossoming mind can’t escape its organic roots. And so the monk’s quest is nourished by the alms giving lay people, who in return feed off good Karma and the Buddhist teachings. A mutual exchange of food for thought.
glimpse: SIPPING WARM GOLD | Now the sun poured warm gold over the azure Caribbean sky and turned those who sipped on it into silhouettes, living shadows etched into this slice of time. Tomorrow they’ll be gone, washed away by a wave of new arrivals, as the itsy bitsy Belizean island bubble Caye Caulker remains in perpetual inflate-burst-flux. The hedonistic pilgrimage of backpackers and suitcase vacationers is whisked together with laid back locals at the “Split," where, legend has it, hurricane Hattie sawed the island in half back in 1961. Bob Marley jams, folks are taking it belizy, every cold beer has a sun-and-fun-lover’s name on it – what’s a painful cliché for one, is an Edenic haven to the other.
glimpse: LIVELIHOOD | His skin was leather, witness to a noble life spent beneath the generous Ethiopian sun. He looked like 80, but was probably closer to 60 when deducting the dignifying furrows a career of arduous labor had left on his face. The wide-awake eyes gave it away. And at no point did the cruel Simien ascends seem to take a toll on him, while I paid plenty. His reticent demeanor expressed a polite indifference to my existence. And yet, somehow I felt like he would guard that existence with his if necessary. He exuded an air of loyalty to his responsibility as a scout, and at least by proxy to any wannabe adventurer in tow. All he carried with him into the mountains was a small rucksack, a quilted jacket, an umbrella, a shawl that inexplicably sufficed him as a blanket throughout the relentless altitude nights, and the AK-47. Ka-lash-ni-kov, rat-tat-tat-tat – what a perfect last name to invent a rifle, I thought. The phonetics and connotation were a match made in Russia. What kind of machine gun would a “Wilson” or “Gonzales” be? But if the rifle made me feel any safer, it made me feel unsafer in at least equal measure. I disliked the tangible proximity of death the presence of the gun established, notwithstanding that this one was more livelihood than weapon – a tool of life and death that was just a tool. Some written or unwritten rule somewhere obliged him to carry it, and me to enter the park accompanied by an armed veteran. Wild animals or robbers are no real threat here, as I learned, but a family going hungry is.
glimpse: PUDDLE POOL | Accommodated by the darkest hour of a forgiving late summer night, hidden from their stalking eyes by the invisible back alley, encouraged by his bittersweet intoxication to hand over the reins to all inhibitions, guided by solitude to unlearn society’s teachings, he bathed and swum in the shallow puddle pool. Nothing was sad about this, or tragic, or fucked up. Just a human, at one with the elements around him, feeling the electrostatic air and the cooling water on, in, and beneath his skin, riding the crest until the comedown.
glimpse: FROZEN WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE | What if the water under the bridge was frozen? Would it change anything? Would it change you? Would you change anything? Would your choice become easier or more difficult with more time at hand? And would it matter at all if you were looking the other way? Would you prefer to keep going with the flow?
glimpse: GHOST | When the night is blue, the moon moody, the wall tall, and the street too long, fear not; for you are just a ghost passing through.
glimpse: BE LIKE YOU | When I grow up, I want to be like you. Audacious and loud like you, tough and tender like you, poking around and getting in trouble like you, raw and unfinished like you.
glimpse: HOLI FACE | Festivals are cultural routines, reoccurring rites that often follow long traces of ancient ancestral mysticism. Built on ephemerality, they aren’t supposed to last. Coming alive in a collective moment and dying with each individual going home, their existence is humble. Once the paint flakes off of a Holi face, it’s “so long, see you around next year.” The festive occasion derives meaningfulness and joy from being cyclic, not static; its short and intense presence must juxtapose a long absence to be cherished by the devotees. Even in our memories the recollection of a single event might get watered down in a blurry puddle of many a year. There is no clinging on to celebrations and that’s why they are truly moments of being in the moment.
glimpse: HOSTEL CREATURE | Hostels are anthropological petri dishes, in which all sorts of characters and stories mingle. Sure, many conversations stay at a superficial level along the lines of “where you from mate, sick dude, how long have you been traveling, where you headed?” But some people meet on the same wavelength and dive a little deeper, to more profound topics and even to the depths where lifelong friendships are molded. And then there are the occasional oddballs, refreshing palate cleansers with quirky demeanors and twisted plots. Like the kind of guy entering a dorm in Bishkek late at night with a stern face while insinuating something about a committed murder, but being all jovial and no longer hangry after a midnight snack, now casually clarifying that the murder victim was actually him, killed by a society that had not prevented his near starvation leading to strokes and nerve damage, and alleging that some Balinese villagers worship him and his wife as reincarnations of Hindu gods, before putting on his PJs and a Kermit sleeping mask.
reads | life
A Homage to Education
empowerer, character-builder, freedom fighter
Education happens – wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly – all around us, in all of us, all the time, lifelong. Our teachers don’t always look like teachers: they can be social milieus, inner monologues, nature, culture, travel, or anything that makes the brain spin. read more
photos | essays
That Candid Moment Before the Mask
perfect imperfection before the stage is set
...portrait candidness is the short lived obliviousness before the stage is set and it thrives on the imperfection of anticipating the "picture perfect" moment... see more
reads | travel
Who Is That White Savior With the Complex?
Are Westerners trying to save the world on their terms?
...development assistance can be viable; unless it feeds into an individual or systemic White Savior Complex that results in the idea of one side helping the other and distracts people from the underlying issues and inequities. read more
countries | Europe | Spain
Barcelona / Revolution in the Air, But Where?
people carry on ordinarily while the political stage is in flames
...yet, between these societal lines, where the quintessence of our life as human beings dwells, our situation remains largely the same, despite political turmoil... explore
countries | Northeast Asia | Japan
Tokyo / Lingering Alone
the difference of seeing a place and being in a place
Everybody is keen on seeing these picture-perfect places, but nobody seems interested in being there, in staying in these moments. explore
countries | Central America | Belize
Caye Caulker / Inflate-Burst-Flux of a Clichéd Island Bubble
the bond of a moment's fun
...not much of you or anybody else can stay there, too little the ripple, too constant the stream. A moment’s fun is the bond and doesn’t ask for any more or less... explore
reads | travel
Must I Really Though?
when musts outnumber wants on your wanderlust list
Aren’t most of us out here, strapped into our backpacks, to declare guerrilla war on bleak societal regimes with Mondays? Every child is more of a rebel when Mom allots musts. read more
reads | travel
Have You Become an Arrogant Travel-Bully Yet?
when traveling corrupts the humility it should spark
Let’s wipe off that conceited smile, suggesting that we’re carrying an unraveled world in our backpack. read more
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