Every Tuesday, savor Catherine’s evocative joie de vivre and mysterious lightness of being through subjects as diverse as Appalachian inhabitants, Tasmanian farmers, tribal people and celebrities.
Photo of the Week
As an artist, one of the greatest marvels I have ever seen is the Angkor Wat bas-relief gallery. Erected and completed in the 1100s, it’s miraculous that you can still see the details and the exquisite and extensive craftwork that depicts stories of heaven and hell, and of the many battles between good and evil. Most people who see this photograph compliment me on how peaceful the shot is – as matter of fact, I’ve sold it to many yoga studios and spas as a stock image. The irony is, the wall panel – one of the bas-relief galleries of Angkor Wat – you see on the left actually depicts hell and torture. If you look closer, there are gruesome imagery of people having their bones broken, heads pierced with nails and skin branded with hot irons. Yeah, scary stuff.
It looked like it was built hundreds of years ago – and camouflaged in the mystery of the Appalachian mountains. You have to look closely to see it behind the shrubbery of the area; I pulled over and inside the house, masks lay on side dressers, props scattered all over the hardwood floor, costumes hanging behind doors. I thought I had stepped onto the backstage of a theater. And as luck would have it, this 2-year-old boy just happened to be playing in his room.
They look out into the Himalayan headwaters of the Ganges river, the vague reflections of their five lanky figures conspiring with the ripples of water beneath them. As the first rays of the dawning sun glisten on the vast sacred river, the little Hindu pilgrims stand at the edge of this “Ghat” at Uttar Pradesh in Varanasi – an iconic structure of steps along the coastline of the Ganges. This is their daily ritual bathing, which according to tradition is a purifying of the soul. I like to think, however, that the boys’ lithe figures and slight playfulness symbolize purity of friendship among children – and that this shot captures that ephemeral moment of bonding shrouded in the fog of nostalgia.
You could feel the smouldering heat on your eyes and skin, yet the team of us at fellow photog Tara Arrowood’s wedding at Burning Man was high on excitement from being a part of the unconventional Bohemian nuptials. When we had a minute away from the frenzy of the celebration, I organized a last-minute photo shoot with Jonathan Michael and Linnae Asiel of avant-garde design firm, Asiel Design. Ever the consummate pros, Jon and Linnae crafted an edgy reception adorned with their signature style – blossoming succulents of dark classical gothic colors meshed with an air of European sensual lightness appropriate for a wedding atmosphere. As a colleague, you can’t help but admire this cool couple. People adore them and their eclectic, inventive artistry – yet they really are just down-to-earth, and genuinely nice people to be around. Check out their work at http://www.asieldesign.com.
Not many people know this – but Angkor Wat is only one of more than 100 temples in the famous Siem Reap/Angkor ruins in Cambodia. If you have never been to this part of the world, you may experience a culture shock as you will come across many beggars and touts – many of whom are landmine amputees and children. I took this photograph at the Preah Khan temple, once occupied by a great Khmer king – the structure you see at the middle of the cross-section of consecutive hallways is a lingam-yoni shrine. It’s pretty bizarre – you’ll never guess what it symbolizes. The “lingam” pillar is a phallic symbol, which rests on the “yoni” pedestal, as the name suggests, a yonic symbol.