Longing In Lamayuru
Lamayuru is one of the most beautiful and golden places I have ever visited. A warm and welcoming village, set in a rich a fertile valley and surrounded by striking mountains on all sides At one end of Lamayuru is a dramatic, moon-like rock formation and at the other, one of the most photogenic monasteries […]
Lamayuru is one of the most beautiful and golden places I have ever visited. A warm and welcoming village, set in a rich a fertile valley and surrounded by striking mountains on all sides At one end of Lamayuru is a dramatic, moon-like rock formation and at the other, one of the most photogenic monasteries in the whole of Ladakh. In between there is a patchwork of small farms, clusters of simple houses and warm, friendly people.
At least, that’s how I felt upon leaving Lamayuru. Arriving there was a different story. I was struggling with altitude sickness and a grinding, bumpy trip along dusty and broken roads that snaked and clung to the sides of sheer mountains had sapped my enthusiasm. My first impressions of Lamyuru were anything but positive.
Looking back it’s clear I was suffering a little mid-tour burnout. By that stage we had taken a lot of images, but we hadn’t had many opportunities to review and discuss our work (most of the critiques came in the second half of the trip). For me that sort of situation can be a little dangerous as self-doubt and foreboding soon cloud my fragile creative optimism.
Moreover, the amount of travel and the early starts meant all the group, myself included, were retiring soon after dinner each night. However sensible that might have been, it was starving the night owl in me of much needed conversation time to process events and experiences.
That said, Lamayuru was something of a turning point for me. I spent a lot of my time there alone, sometimes consciously choosing to shoot in different places and from different angles to others in the group. I tried every piece of gear I had bought, including the fisheye and lensbaby. Moreover, I spent a fair bit of time not shooting, just reading, journalling, looking out over the valley or just watching my colleagues take pictures.
The days in Lamayuru gave me a much deeper appreciation for the way others approached their craft (and not just the images they produced). From that point on in the trip I started to see connections between the images my fellow photographers took, their approach to photography and their way of being in the world.
Photography can be a very technical pursuit – there’s a lot to get geeky about. But, ultimately, our photos come from the way we see the world and our relationship to the places we find ourselves in. For example, the image of the roadworkers in the gallery below only came about because we got into a conversation about what I was doing on a lonely stretch of road before the crack of dawn. It was only because I met their curiosity with a willingness to be open (something I’m not always good at) that the opportunity for that photo was created.