Tibet's Lost Children

 Beggar Children, Lhasa, Tibet

Here's an image from the archives. I made it during the Tibetan New Year in Lhasa during January 2000.

I found these young beggar children in  a large open market area adjacent to the famous Bhakor Market. It was -10C and I was very happy to help the kids out. But I also wanted to document our meeting by making a photograph.

The Brain at High Altitude

The hotel I stayed at the previous night had some kind of weird disco and I remember leaving with the song Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by Don MacLean on my mind. Dreams tend to be vivid at high altitudes and I dreamed of the sky, which is like a huge fish bowl on the great Tibetan plateau. I also dreamt of my mother, Mary, and of my own childhood at a Catholic primary school.

An Obsession With Color

Back then I was obsessed with color and wanted to make a beautiful color photo of these kids. I asked their permission, through gestures, and then took them on a short walk (in a busy, public place) until I found the perfect background. The older child's scarf was beautiful and reminded me, somewhat, of the way Jesus's mother is often portrayed in Christian art. Did I mention my mother's name is Mary?

The kids clothing blended beautifully with the blue metal background and the flecks of yellow paint provided a lovely color contrast. In my mind the background was a kind of starry, starry night.

It's a great memory and, after all these years, is still one of my favorite photos. Certainly the motivations underpinning the photo were unique. So dream and enjoy drawing on your inspirations, including those from your unconscious mind, to create memorable images. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru