Monthly Archive for February, 2011

gabriela bulisova – iraqi refugees

[slidepress gallery=’gabrielabulisova_iraqirefugees’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls 

Gabriela Bulisova

Iraqi Refugees

play this essay

The Option of Last Resort: Iraqi Refugees in the United States

One of the least reported stories of the U.S. invasion of Iraq is the dispersal of close to 5 million Iraqis displaced internally or forced to flee across the country’s borders.  This exile is one of the greatest refugee crises in modern history—the statistical equivalent of nearly 50 million Americans leaving the United States. These masses of people displaced by the war in Iraq have become invisible and insignificant, overshadowed by other war-related events. Many of the displaced were the brains, the talent, the pride and the future of Iraq. Many of them, traumatized by unforgettable violence, will never return home.

In 2007 and 2008, I traveled to Syria to photograph Iraqi refugees living in Damascus. I found them in dire economic and emotional straits—often scarred, desperate and disillusioned.  Uprooted from their homes and families with no future and no hope for return, they are the lesser seen, lesser-known consequences of the war. I wanted to tell their stories. I also heard about the plight of Iraqis who were forced from their homes specifically because they had helped the United States. Some of them had made it to America where they were having experiences and feelings both similar to and different from those of Iraqi refugees who had remained in the Middle East.

Some of the most recent Iraqi refugees in America had signed up to serve as translators working for the U.S. military or as experts with other U.S. government agencies, NGOs, or American companies in Iraq. They saved lives, they built cultural and linguistic bridges, they sacrificed their own safety and the safety of their families to help participate in what they thought would be the creation of a better Iraq. They quickly became one of the most hunted groups in the country. They bore a lethal stigma as “collaborators” or “traitors” that transcended sect or tribe, and they were targeted in assassination campaigns that drove many of them either into hiding or out of the country.

For people who fear for their life and seek refugee status in America, the U.S. government offers resettlement as the “option of last resort” for the most vulnerable refugees. In this project, I photographed and interviewed Iraqi refugees who have been resettled to the United States and are living in Washington, D.C. or other American cities. In some respects, these immigrants might be considered lucky, since they made it safely out of Iraq where their lives were in immediate danger.  Thousands of others are still in Iraq or neighboring countries.  In fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs issued only 1,490 special immigrant visas for Iraqi translators and interpreters who had assisted the United States. This number includes family members.

Once in the United States, these refugees encounter the intricate, challenging and often disillusioning process of transitioning to life in America.  Many feel abandoned by the country they helped and risked their lives for; many are unemployed and facing dire financial crises; many yearn for the embrace of family and friends left behind; and many wish they could return home. Still fearful for their own safety and the safety of family members in Iraq, many refugees asked that I not reveal their faces or names.

Under President George W. Bush, questions about assistance and safety did not receive serious attention until 2007 when Congress passed legislation to facilitate asylum for Iraqis who had aided the United States. As a candidate, Barack Obama declared, “We must also keep faith with Iraqis who kept faith with us. One tragic outcome of this war is that the Iraqis who stood with America—the interpreters, embassy workers, and subcontractors—are being targeted for assassination. Keeping this moral obligation is a key part of how we turn the page in Iraq.” Yet today, a new challenge is emerging as the United States cuts back its military presence in Iraq, and takes with it the ability to protect the Iraqis it employs.


Gabriela Bulisova is a documentary photographer from the former Czechoslovakia, based in Washington, D.C.  She carries her camera to marginalized communities in places such as Azerbaijan, Chernobyl, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the Unites States. By bringing the faces of the forgotten to light and giving voice to those who have been silenced, she hopes to capture people through the lens of an advocate, rather than a dispassionate observer.

Bulisova has received numerous recognitions and awards including the Open Society Institute’s Documentary Project: Moving Walls 18, the Aperture Portfolio Review Top Tier Portfolios of Merit, the CANON “Explorer of Light” award, a CEC ArtsLink Projects grant, the Corcoran School of Art and Design Faculty Grant Award, a PDN Annual Photography Competition (Student Category), and a Puffin Foundation Grant. Bulisova was a participant at the Eddie Adams Workshop for emerging photographers and a graduate fellow at the National Graduate Photography Institute, Columbia University.

Bulisova received her Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Digital Imaging in 2005 from Maryland Institute College of Art/MICA in Baltimore. She is currently an adjunct professor of photography and photojournalism at MICA and at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C. Bulisova is a member of the Metro Collective Photographic Agency and the Women Photojournalists of Washington.

Related links

Gabriela Bulisova

Metro Collective Photographic Agency

is paper hot, or not?

“Color , grace, gesture. Slipping and sliding through nights humid and intimidating. I am both lost and found in a simultaneous rush of primal feelings and needs.”

These were my words for a Bravo paper promo for their paper and printing. A commercial use of my photography but the whole concept, design and writing was  a collaboration between Polish designer Jurek Wadjowicz and yours truly. Of course the pictures were my personal work from the Caribbean and South America . I cannot publish the whole portfolio here, but it was a labor of love and flat out a whole lot of fun to make. Trust me, the kind of commission you will savor. They are rare. I have never worked with anyone in quite the same way as I did with  Jurek. It really was our baby and he made me feel like it was my baby.

Holding the final paper product in my hands now is a certain kind of experience and way of viewing photographs that cannot be duplicated on the computer screen. Yet I and many others scramble every day to make our work viable for mobile devices, like the iPad and Kindle etc. We see our books being reasonably priced iPad books as a secondary offering for the traditionally printed book, or will it be the other way around?

Either way, times are changing. Some top media executives see bookstores closing and all but boutique printing moving to the iPad. Their feeling is that the consumer will happily pay say $5. for an iPad book rather than $50. for a paper book. I will no doubt end up doing both , therefore spending $55., but perhaps I am not the average consumer of photo books. We will see how discerning consumers move on this.

While I work everyday to create a good web experience for you, I also work everyday in traditional media. I live and breathe books. Traditionally printed books. My workshops which always had as the grand finale a slide show from the week of intense shooting by students, will from now on have as the end game a handsomely printed book.

In April during the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale , Mississippi  students from my small class will start their shooting knowing that we will be producing a book titled JUKE.  This will not be an  everybody automatically gets 5 pictures in our class book, but a seriously conceived and edited book where each student is going to have to make a truly strong image to be considered for publication. We  will start building this book from day one.

Eileen Gittens, Founder/Ceo of Blurb, told me her company will sponsor JUKE and give us  very special attention.  This will be the first in a series of student produced books.  These may become a part of our upcoming Burn library of carefully thought out books of all kinds including upcoming publication of a wide variety of photographic artists from this audience both emerging and icons alike. Soon to be presented on Burn will be series of iPad  compatible essays,  starting with Chris Anderson and his Capitolio.


So what do you think? i am reading Ross in our comments section  whose book budget is blown after buying 4 books…..what about this? Ross could have perhaps had 4 iPad books for say $20. instead of the probably $200. he spent…the profit to the photographer and publisher is probably also better in the electronic version…book stores closing down….are we seeing the end of the printed book game?

You guys tell us…..we are listening

preston gannaway – between the devil and the deep blue sea

[slidepress gallery=’prestongannaway_betweenthedevilandthedeepbluesea’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Preston Gannaway

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

play this essay

“Wildness is a necessity.” — John Muir

Seven and a half miles of beach stretch along the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk, Virginia. There are few, if any, spots in the Ocean View neighborhood where one can actually see the Atlantic. It’s a place of inherent contradictions.

Vulnerable to weather’s every whim, the connection to the natural world, even if not embraced, can’t be denied. There is beauty in the dirtiest corners.

Once a rowdy playground for sailors, the area was rampant with drugs and prostitution. Residents still boast of its edginess. It’s a siren call for transients and misfits. But also a way out from the projects for working class families. For them, the beach is free. And it’s always there.

It’s an area filled with pride, yet always teetering on the edge of change. In the early stages of gentrification, everyone’s got a side. Old cottages are being bulldozed to build million dollar homes.

I moved here two years ago and started documenting. I’ve found the beauty and complexity of the community overwhelming and intoxicating. The devil is elusive and we all have our own demons to fight. My hairdresser once said to me, “A place so diverse must be forgiving.”


Preston Gannaway (b. 1977) has worked as a documentary photojournalist for the past 10 years. Trained as a fine art photographer, Gannaway believes the daily newspaper is an inclusive medium that brings visual storytelling to a diverse audience. She currently works for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2008, Gannaway’s photo story on the St. Pierre family, Remember Me, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. A native of North Carolina, she began her career at the Coalfield Progress in rural southwest Virginia after earning a Bachelor of Arts at Virginia Intermont College.

Related links

Preston Gannaway

righteous (as in bob marley def)….

(interview with Alec Soth , above, coming soon…..stuff you never knew)

I have had writers block for the last three weeks, yet I am not a writer. Which is no doubt  the whole of the problem. I can do ok with pictures on demand. Not so with  pen and paper. Surely it isn’t that I don’t  have much to tell you. I have too much to tell you, yet i need to be brief. I will get right to the point.

For those of you who have been readers here for awhile, you probably figured out a long time ago that this is a pretty humble operation here at Burn. While we are in popular terms a “wildly successful new brand” , we make no money and our staff is still an all voluntary army.  Now mind you we are not even trying to make money. Yea invest in us!  Smiling.  Seriously, all of us value independence and freedom more than money. So we are not looking for bosses. Yet we are looking for support. Sure, uh huh, right dude, who gets money without a boss?

In fact we are ninjalike action heroes because we have  generated some income from thoughtful donors to pay for our $15,000 Burn/Emerging Photographer Fund grant with funds donated through the not for profit Magnum Foundation. Subscription donations help to pay photographers for work published here. These are donors who simply believe in what we are doing.

Yet indeed, we are scrambling to make things work . There are two possible solutions. First , is to accept advertising. While I have zero aversion to advertising and have done ad photography, I think that for Burn right now we might just be able to survive without it and therefore have a really clean slate for just doing what we want to do and with a particular kind of unencumbered cred. This audience will basically make the decision for funding/donations  based on the steps we are making.

So you may ask, what steps?

We want to make more of what we did in the last two weeks. Financially and psychologically supporting an emerging photographer like Egyptian  Laura El Tantawy in Cairo and at the same time commissioning an exclusive for Burn essay by Paolo Pellegrin. Both photographers with unique styles and both looking at Cairo.

Both with equal pay, equal artistic control, and one time use only photo rights..

My stated initial goal of Burn was to combine the iconic with the emerging iconic. We have done it now with original photography from both and an exclusive here.

Next we go to firebrand Bruce Gilden who will be in Haiti during elections  and a soon to be assigned young  Haitian photographer to shoot a parallel story with Bruce.  Followed by Alec Soth (shown above during my interview this week)  and and an emerging photographer chosen by him. Our aesthetic interests will know no bounds and we will actively seek all individual styles of work.

Simultaneous with these projects sponsored by Burn and the readers of Burn will be a special corporate commission presented by BD who sponsored James Nachtwey with his TB essay published on Burn in 2010. BD will now sponsor in Russia both Nachtwey and emerging star of Russian descent,  Alisa Resnik. Frankly we would welcome this type of selected corporate sponsorship for any of the above projects as well. We feel we will get them , but I am willing to bet on it in the meantime with our readers support. BD was happy with Burn as a platform before, and have come back this time with additional support for a talented young photographer.  So this is a model. Again all of this original work both by Nachtwey and by Resnik will be featured first here on Burn with a proper drum roll preceding.

All of the above projects highlight four new emerging photographers as well as the established legends.

I think we have taken a large step forward today without losing any of our identity. We just want to do things here on Burn, and upcoming in print magazine  Burn 02,  that are simply cool.  Serious.  Fun. Imaginative,  and flat out informative as well. If it is  not rewarding to do and we are not giving you something unique, then we fold the tent and go have a beer. Already in our short history I think we have helped a few young photographers, respected a few icons, and made  a lot of new friends along the way.

Now one of the things I have noticed about creating space, funds, and a platform, is that while some receive , some feel left out. This is a conundrum with no real solution except  I can say that I will do my best to pass things around. I cannot support everyone. My honest hope here is only to set an example so that others better equipped to do this sort of thing than I , will take on the responsibility and the effort. I am as accessible as I can be to photographers with ideas. At the same time, I do have my own photography and books to do, so there are times when I disappear into my own shooting as I am about to do in Rio. So all patience is appreciated.

We are struggling in the good old fashioned way. Times when real things happen for the right reasons. Feels like such a time.


sebastien van malleghem – police

[slidepress gallery=’sebastienvanmalleghem_police’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Sébastien Van Malleghem


play this essay

Brussels, Nivelles, Belgium, 2008 – 2010

For more than 3 years, I followed Belgian cops in their cars, during their missions, everywhere. I discovered the violence of life seen on the face of citizens, the loneliness and the stories of those who try to speak but can’t, who try to get out of the night, but can’t.

What reality can be seen from the back seat of a police car, when we are neither a suspect nor a policeman ourselves?

Though sometimes sordid, I saw the everyday lives of men and women who work, day and night, for the safety of their fellow citizens. I uncovered the unfamiliarity in the heart of the routine, the vibration of a job that seems, at first sight, lacking of emotion.

Since elections in June 2010, Belgium has had no government, which is obviously detrimental for public services like the police force. According to some sources, up to ten percent of the population suffers from alcoholism, and sixty five percent of young people try or take drugs. But the Belgian police are undeniably effective, despite a drastic lack of resources. The night shift of Brussels west zone is only staffed with 8 teams- 16 policemen for 182,000 residents. When a night becomes heated to the point of needing reinforcements, the only solution is to call in police officers from neighboring zones, who then leave their own perimeter uncovered.

However, even an increase in the resources available for the police force will not be able to stop urban insecurity and the saturation of the prisons. The lack of space in Belgian prisons leads to reduced time spent in jail for “light judgements,” and law enforcement frequently bears the burden of people they must deal with again and again.

Though the police are conscious of the difficulties they face, they continue to watch over sleepy Belgian towns with the hope that the State will support them.

How will you sleep when their hope fades away?


Sébastien Van Malleghem, 24, is based in Belgium. He studied in Brussels at the superior art school “le75”. During his studies he interned with Tomas Van Houtryve.

After finishing school he went to America and participated in the Eddie Adams Workshop. Last June he joined the Belgian Collective “Caravane”.

Sebastien is currently looking for an editor for a book on his reportage about the police while continuing this project exploring justice. He recently began working in Belgian prisons.

Born in Belgium, Sebastien is trying to understand his continent by photographing in Europe.

Related links

Sébastian Van Malleghem

Collective “Caravane”

laura el-tantawy – cairo

[slidepress gallery=’lauraeltantawy_cairo2′]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Laura El-Tantawy


play this essay

Editors note:
After a week of shooting and updates, this is an edit of Laura’s work…she leaves tomorrow to return to London….this is her final essay.

February 11, 2011

Cairo, Egypt

I was in Tahrir Square when it happened.

Two weeks ago I arrived in Cairo determined to tell a story. I came here to document what I now know is the most significant chapter in my generation’s history as an Egyptian.

Friday February 11, 2011 felt like a normal day in the square.

Crowds slowly filtered in to join the weekly Friday sermon and prayers. The night before had ended in utter devastation as news had spread the Egyptian President would resign his post — a much anticipated cause for joy for the hundreds of thousands (at times estimated in the millions) who had made Liberation Square their home for the past 18 days. But their hopes ended in tears as Mubarak once again asserted his authority and military pride as a former member of the Egyptian armed forces and refused to meet their demands.

I was in the square photographing as I had been for the last few days. I chose to take the square as my focus, trying to highlight the human element and the square as a symbol of a new Egypt. Moments after crowds took part in Maghrib (sunset) prayers, people tuned into their radios, televisions and mobile telephones to listen to a statement from the Presidential Office. Given the chaos of the last few days, it was hard to predict what this statement might unveil. Anything could have happened.

But for the resilient protesters who were determined to have their demands met, they knew it was a matter of days before the regime gave in. For days their chanting had changed from, “The People Demand the Regime Step Down” to “The People Have Already Toppled the Regime.”

In my line of vision, I saw a group of five or six youths silhouetted by the glimmering sunset jump and strike their fists in the air. They said, “We did It! He’s Gone.”

Seconds later the entire square joined in, chanting “Allahuakbar” (God is Great) and “Lift your Head Up high, Your Egyptian”. Their echoes could literally be heard throughout the entire city and surely the country.

I never really grasped the extent of people’s determination to topple the regime. The two weeks I spent in Tahrir Square were an education. The more time I spent there, the more I realized something big was about to happen. Looking at the people sleeping in makeshift tents in the cold, under the rain, eating bread and boiled eggs for days on end showed me a sense of resilience I thought we had long lost as Egyptians. The stories people told, how they had lost their dignity, pride and their dreams during Mubarak’s 30 years of ruling the country.

Friday, February 11, 2011 is a day that will never be forgotten. It’s the day when the people’s persistence for change forced a dictator to step out and let a dream in.

I was there…


February 6, 2011, 3:17 p.m.

Everyone has a story to tell at Tahrir Square.

For nearly two weeks, thousands of protesters have made this former bustling part of the Egyptian capital their home–literally sleeping in makeshift tents on the ground and along the pavement. Some don’t sleep at all, but take turns guarding the roads leading into the square from attacks by pro-government supporters, or hired thugs.

Tahrir (Liberation) Square has become a microcosm of Egyptian society. The protesters here represent all classes of people, from the art world, politicians, engineers, lawyers, bankers, school teachers, government employees, construction workers, plumbers. They all came here to fight for something.

Abdel Rahman Mohamed Atif and his wife, Dalia, cradled their two babies as they walked through the square on a recent morning. Their faces were beaming as their eyes searched around, hearing the booming loudspeaker broadcast anti-Mubarak chants: “The People Demand the Regime Step Down.” They armed cradled their babies higher, lifting them up into the air so they could breathe the spirit of freedom echoing throughout the square.

On the other side of the square sat Ashraf Abdelhami, an Arabic teacher at one of Egypt’s most prestigious universities, the American University in Cairo (AUC). He has been at Tahrir Square since Tuesday January 25th, a day the protesters dubbed the ‘Day of Rage’. On that day, his body was sprayed by bullets fired by the Egyptian police, their traces still bruising his body. “I don’t want Mubarak’s regime. I don’t want the police” Abdelhamid said. “We are suffering and I’m here for freedom,” he added.

Across the other end of Tahrir Square sat a young farmer, Qutb Ali Ibrahim al-Sayes. He traveled from the town of Kafr al-Zayat in western Egypt to support the anti-government demonstrators. He said he was there “…for the freedom of my children.”

There are many more stories on Tahrir Square. I have seen many people weeping in the last few days and heard heartbreaking stories from people I have never met before. Protesters here vow not to leave the square until Mubarak has stepped down, seeing him as a symbol of a chain of corruption that has plagued the country for generations to come.


February 3, 2011.

My name is Laura El-Tantawy and I am an Egyptian citizen.

Twelve years ago my life changed dramatically. I still remember the day—the exact moment. It was just after sunrise had ushered in a new morning. I stood under Cairo International Airport’s flickering fluorescent lights, my heart pounding ahead of what was about to happen.

I knew my life was about to change forever.

My whole family surrounded me. My weeping mother and worried father. My ailing grandmother—my uncle, aunts, sisters, cousins. I will never forget the moment my mother and father had to let go of my hand. Their eyes holding back a silent pool of tears.

That was my reality.

This is not just my story. I am merely one of thousands, if not millions, who had to leave Egypt to pursue a better life. My family and I have endured a diaspora that has affected many Egyptian families who had to be broken apart in pursuit of a better education, better career, better treatment and ultimately a better future.

I have now lived away from Egypt for more than a decade but my heart has always been here and I know it will forever stay here. I am 30-years-old and Mubarak is the only President I have ever known. In his years of ruling this country I have seen so much injustice happen to the people. Many times I wondered how the human spirit can be so mean—so corrupt. I have wondered how the obvious sadness I saw in people’s eyes could go unnoticed by the government. I wondered how the Egyptian people were so put down socially, economically and politically that their defeated spirit had lost the natural ability to dream.

I do not represent all Egyptians but my opinion is certainly shared by many. When people took to the streets more than a week ago I felt like I had to be among them. This was my story: my present, past and future. This is the story of my generation of young Egyptians who have felt like foreigners in our own land.

Today I stood in Tahrir (Liberation) Square where a unique spirit echoed throughout every corner. I saw men and women weeping: “We are loosing our country,” they muttered. I saw men bleeding, saying they would rather die on Tahrir Square than have Mubarak remain in power. Today I saw Egyptians beating each other, saying they will kill one another. Today I saw an Egypt split apart by political turmoil.

I stood bewildered and confused. This is not the Egypt I know. The Egypt I knew screamed in silence but today people screamed at the top of their lungs. I was torn between photographer and protester. I wanted to scream and at moments cry. I wanted to hug people and thank them for their courage. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs with them.

Today I stood in Liberation Square and for the first time in my life I said: My name is Laura El-Tantawy and I am a proud Egyptian citizen.


Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photojournalist and artist based in London, UK. She studied journalism & political science at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) & started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). She became a freelance in 2006 and has since exclusively worked on self-initiated projects. Her work has been been published & exhibited in the US, Europe, Asia & the Middle East. Laura lives between the UK, her country of birth, and Egypt, where she associates most of her childhood memories.

Related links

Laura El-Tantawy

Emerging Photographer Fund 2011 – Call for Entries

[slidepress gallery=’epf_2010_sampler’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls 




play the EPF 2010 sampler

We are now receiving submissions for a BURN grant of $15,000.

Deadline for entry is May 15, 2011

Funding is designed to support continuation of a photographer’s personal project. This body of work may be of either journalistic mission or purely personal artistic imperatives. The primary intent is to support emerging photographers who will become the icons of tomorrow.

The Emerging Photographer Fund grant was initiated by David Alan Harvey in 2008, and is awarded by the Magnum Foundation, a non-profit created by the member photographers from Magnum Photos, Inc…Funding for the EPF has come from several private donors who have chosen to remain anonymous.

Some of the previous jurors have been:  Carol Nagar, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Eugene Richards, Maggie Steber, Fred Ritchin, Bruce Gilden, David Griffin, John Gossage , Susan Meiselas, and James Nachtwey…For 2011 an equally astute set of jurors will be selected and announced before the deadline date.

The 2008 Emerging Photographer Fund grant was awarded to Sean Gallagher for his essay on the environmental Desertification  of China.

The 2009 Emerging Photographer Fund grant was awarded to Alejandro Chaskielberg for his 8×10 format essay on the Parana River Delta.

The 2010 Emerging Photographer Fund grant was awarded to Davide Monteleone for his essay Northern Caucasus.

Anyone can enter the EPF 2011 Grant, there are no age restrictions… however, it is intended for emerging photographers, who are the icons of tomorrow and not today…

we use the SlideRoom system which is very easy to use for your submission to the EPF 2011 Grant… you can sign up and edit your work as much as you like for the next several weeks, right up to the deadline, and you only need to pay the submission fee IF/WHEN you actually submit your final essay for consideration…

All the rules for submission are explained in great detail once you are signed in to the SlideRoom system and start uploading your images.

The EPF grant 2011 submission link:

Deadline for submission: May 15th, 2011

The winner will be announced in June, 2011 at the Look 3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia

ekkarat punyatara – the monk

[slidepress gallery=’ekkaratpunyatara_themonk’]

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Ekkarat Punyatara

The Monk in New York

play this essay

I began this project  in New York with the idea that I believe Buddhism, or the middle way of Buddha, is the journey of each person’s mind observing very tiny feelings and mood for control and cognition of who we are, no matter how this world has changed or how far it has gone. Ever since  I was a teenager, when my mind began to distinguish the difference between the essentials of life and sensuality, I have realized how hard it is to deny those unnecessary desires, how hard it is to be a monk. I want to understand how monks restrain their passion in a world full of temptation and defilement. Looking at my own faith, I found no answer; I don’t know what the monk’s life is. In the world of photography, there are so many photographs of monks from the straightforward perspective of faith; we rarely see “life”. And that is what I want to represent, a way of life for people who firmly stand firm in the year of 2000, applying a method discovered and established for more than 2000 years ago: Don’t go too hard or too easy, stay simple.

“Camera or this kind of convenient stuff is just like a gun. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” a monk said.

I am not sure about the appropriate image of the monk’s life in other countries, but some photos in this story are controversial for Thai people. However, I would like to say that I started and ended this story with respect for the subjects. As I mentioned earlier, I do believe that Buddhism is the journey of each person’s insight, and it has never been easy.


Ekkarat Punyatara, was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He studied Photography and Cinematography at Bangkok Technical Campus. After working for two years, including an internship and freelance work at National Geographic (Thai edition), he realized his eyes had become immune to his surroundings, and it was getting difficult to see something new. With a deep interest in Asian culture, especially Thai culture, he decided to move to New York, USA to look for a fresh perspective, and to take his photography to the next level. At present he is waiting for the right time to go back and explore Asia.

Related links

Ekkarat Punyatara