Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Security Of Parental Protection


"I'm not really sure what to make of this... is that a camera? I don't even know what a camera is, but I probably don't like it. Therefore, I'm going to err on the side of caution here, and huddle up under the protection of my mom's skirt."

This is an older photo, taken in 1990 in Yunnan, a province in southern China that borders on Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. I was walking through a market in the Xishuangbanna autonomous region, home of the Dai ethnic minority, and the place was bustling with the energy of mid-afternoon commerce.

So, when this little guy saw me, he was pretty freaked out, and hid behind his mother, who was selling Dai handicrafts. I also hadn't shaved in a week, so that could have contributed to his reaction.

At the time, not many Western tourists traveled to Yunnan, mainly because getting there involved a series of agonizing bus rides on crumbling, terrifying roads that wind their way along steep mountain ravines and through dense jungle foliage.

I would describe it as the kind of bus trip that you look back on years later with fondness because it was such an incredible adventure. However, while you're on that bus, and it's careening down tiny little roads, all you can think about is how the wreckage will be discovered after you crash, and whether vultures will be involved.

This photo was taken with a Kodak Instamatic camera that used 110mm film, and is one of those shots that proves the point that you don't need a great camera to take a memorable image.

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