Photo Kathmandu

The first few days of November saw Photo Kathmandu spread itself out through the dusty warren of alleyways of Patan in the Kathmandu Valley. Patan is the oldest city in the valley (Lalitipur, its other name, means “city of beauty”) – and this was the first international photo festival in the country. It couldn’t have been more of a success if it tried. Inspiring, insanely well organized, well curated, engaging…Photographs adorned walls throughout the ancient city, the bricks under them rounded by centuries and still standing after April’s devastating earthquake here. Despite a crippling fuel crisis that is clouding the mood and logistics of the country crowds came to see them – touching the images, feeling them, debating the captions, giggling, even crying. There were no sterile white gallery walls, no archival glass or whispered niceties (kids screamed with laugher during the evening slideshows…a highlight!). At night the conversations continued, friends were made, idea’s shared, pop up galleries stuck to walls. I can’t say thank you enough to Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati and @nepalphotoproject (Sumit and Tara) – the inspirations behind being here, and the reason I got on a plane. Not the slightest regret.

The Women of Nepal

Experts say that the monsoon should hit Nepal within 48 hours. I met these women at a makeshift health camp, set up in a destroyed school, in Katakuti village in Dolakha – one of the worst hit regions after April 25th’s earthquake. I wonder what these women are thinking right now. I wonder if they’ve been able to set up structures that will keep them and their families dry and warm over the next few months. I wonder if the continuous aftershocks are still keeping them up at night. I wonder if they have enough to eat. I wonder how many of them are alone – their partners working abroad like so many Nepalese men do. I wonder…

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Inspiration from Florence Henri

“What I want above all is to compose the photograph as I do with painting. Volumes, lines, shadows and light have to obey my will and say what I want them to say. This happens under the strict control of composition, since I do not pretend to explain the world nor to explain my thoughts.”

French Photographer Florence Henri (1893 – 1982)

Things you can’t frame in your viewfinder: Respite

1.37am. Cape Town. That is when it happened. Silence woke me up. Deafening silence. City silence: there’s almost an echo; a comforting undertone of a low hum. All the way in Tamboerskloof – on the slopes of the mountain – you can hear the sea.

But mostly you can hear the STILLNESS. Respite after 48 hours of howling wind. I breathe like a person nearly drowned and taking that first spluttering gasp of air knowing that it’s going to be okay. I imagine others coming up for air… the city’s homeless relaxing the curled ball they’ve been in on their cardboard mattresses; rats and squirrels peering out of their holes, wondering if its safe to come out; other insomniacs such as myself opening windows next to their beds; tree’s branches still in exhaustion.

The best feeling, as I lie here awake, is that in the next few hours more than 3 million people will awake to this same feeling… in some way or another… They breathe it in, but might not be able to put words to it…

A Country Doctor

Like so many other professionals his age, Pete Reinders dreamt – for years – of moving to a small town, of opting out, of breathing out. It took some years (mostly waiting patiently for his kids to fly the coop) but in 2004 the dream finally became a reality and he moved to Prince Albert in the Karoo. Life in the fast-paced city is now firmly in his rear-view mirror. And he’s not turning around.
Pete is not just any regular plattelander, though. He’s my also my father. These photos are a result of years of watching proudly as he (and my mother) adjusted to a new life in the Karoo.
Moving there was never a retirement plan. It can be argued that he’s busier now than he ever was in his city practice. But it’s a different kind of busy. There is a happiness that oozes from him as he goes about his work and life. When I asked him to answer a few questions about these photos, he chatted so long my phone battery eventually died…
Regrets? “Not a single one…”

This photo essay – something that I thought I would never see the light of day – was one of the best things I had published last year and I’m really proud of it.

I’ve decided to keep working on this project….

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