I have studied many of my photos over and over. This is one. It tells a million stories just in itself. For me anyway. I’ll try to encapsulate a few of them here.
Visually this appeals to me. Textures were somehow more dynamic here. The grass wall texture against the stacked stones with the laundry is delicious visually. The porters’ baskets add. And they sit across the frame from the 3 empty gas cylinders, which are already tied together, awaiting the next porter heading back down the trail. They are echoed in the rows of soda bottles in the shop window. The doorway divides the photo into 2 parts very plainly, while the center character and the stone wall beneath binds them all together.
This was one of my very favorite high villages. We stopped and had lunch here, so I had time to get briefly acquainted with this place. The people were active and engaged. I was able to photograph several of them just going about their daily activities before we moved on again. The girl with the baby just out of frame to the right was one of the most intriguing. The “porter in training” photo from page 107 in the book was from this town. She is just a bit further right, out of the frame. Women were washing clothes near the creek, a row of men were lined up on a wall on a break, smoking and watching people pass through their town. Porters rested their baskets on the stone wall before continuing up the trail.
This is AC in the center of the photo. When I first went to take this photo, I was struck by the way he fit so naturally into the setting. He walked up the steps and sat among the villagers as they passed by behind him, occasionally stopping to talk. He sat quietly, indifferently surveying the village, perhaps taking a solo moment away from the chaos of his gregarious trekking group.
I took 3 other photos before this one. Then he saw my camera and flashed the deuces and stuck out his tongue (can you see that in this photo?). He’s being playful. For me it shows how comfortable he was with the camera, with me and his surroundings. But photographically it also adds the variety of levity that was prevalent here. I often found the gravity of the living conditions very serious as I passed through, but here is it punctuated with the playful humor that is just as prevalent.
Then I remember that AC bridges two cultures so very gracefully, humorously and naturally just as his figure connects the 2 sides of this photo.The juxtaposition of these is what makes me look back at this one.