“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir
“Why Not” – that attitude , in a sense, is what established my relationship with the Tibetan plateau in 2005. I’m glad for it. And I’m grateful for the time I was allowed to live on the plateau. My time in the high places is certainly not over. But for now, the ability to realistically live there, while making a living, working at what I love, retaining some portion of my hair (and sanity), all while contributing to society seems to have come to an end.
The decision to move was a difficult one for both my wife and I, to say the least. We were building a life and a living in Eastern Tibet. Even now the thoughts that maybe a break was just around the corner, or that things would get better, or that we were over reacting are ones that linger. The realization, for better or worse, seems to be that just maybe we were living on borrowed time. The seasonality of life, from my experience, is a real thing.
Even though the move is a good thing, parts of it are harder than others. The mountains, high-places, and middle-of-nowheres of the world – and of course the people that live there will be sorely missed. I find myself strangely missing the harsh altitude and bitter cold, the winding passes, the headaches and long car rides. The hard things tend to stick with you. Jon Krauker likens this to seeking a state of grace. Happily suffering in the high places. A Calvanistic undertaking. I must agree. All I know is the happiest times I can remember in the last 5 years involved me being extremely cold and often above 15,000 feet.
So what now?
Though it’s hard at times and the transition is a long one, I’m more than excited to be back in the States. There are people I’ve been eager to meet and parts of my career that I’ve been wanting to pursue for a very long time. 2013 is a year of readjusting and refocusing for me: a year to be behind the camera as much as I can.
More than anything, I’m delighted at the opportunity to be a photographer again. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my time overseas is that it’s a privilege to be a photographer. A privilege that I hope to never take for granted.
(Posted below are a few images of my favorite places. Also, at the bottom of the post is a bit more about what I’m up to)
- A high mountain pass at sunrise in Garze Tibetan Autonomous prefecture in northern Sichuan. It was extremely cold.
- The Old Tibetan Fort at sunrise in Gyantse, Tibet. This was one of the first battles between Tibetans and British in 1904. (link)
- One of the most famous angles of the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. (link)
- Tibetan pilgrims prostrating there way from eastern Tibet to Lhasa. A very common site and always a good opportunity to share food and drink to the weary travellers.
- The first view of Everest from the Pang La Pass (~17,060+ feet) heading south. Approx 140 miles out from Everest Base Camp. (link)
- I will be pursuing commercial and editorial photography in The States – my first photographic love. At their core, it’s all just about sharing great stories. I’m excited to share some of my recent work in the coming weeks. I will not be giving up the travel side of my work, thus making me a weird combination of a commercial and travel photographer – despite the disparity between commercial and travel, I love them both too much to give up either. Beyond that, once travel gets it’s hooks in you, it’s near impossible to escape.
- Currently we are located in Northwest Arkansas while we get our feet back under us in The States. We recently had our first born, Andrew. All of my free time goes towards the parental ultimate reward of making a new born smile.
- Plateau Photo Tours is very much still in operation through a local Tibetan partner, and Lobsang (Jamin), my business partner. Despite my inability to live in the region, we can still operate as a tour provider. Stay tuned for some great trips to be announced in the coming months.
- Moving forward you will see some significant changes to this website. Just a friendly FYI.