Tag Archives: hmong

Children of Laos

Over a series of nights for the past couple of weeks I used video editing as a fun stress relief project. Teaching myself the very basics of cutting a movie, I used some of my amateurish footage from Laos. I shot this for fun handheld, never thinking I would use it but for mere memorabilia. I then thought it might make a good atmosphere for my stills and had great fun cutting this. Shot on Canon 5D Mk II, edited in Adobe Premiere. This is ‘Children of Laos’ from the very eastern part of Laos, hmong villages in the mountains close to the borders of Vietnam. I was fortunate to tag along with a journalist friend of mine on a job. Do watch this in HD and full screen, and if you like, read the story below after watching the movie.

Laos Stories

The temperature hovers around freezing. We are in the town of Nong Hat in the mountains of East Laos. Outside my window a rooster desperately tries to rise the sun at 3am. Some dogs bark and join in. I feel like doing the same as sleep is impossible. I am so cold. We are in a stone guest house with no windows only wooden shutters and it is colder inside than outside. Like the rooster I long for the sun to wake up.

When the sun finally rises we are treated to a beautiful morning. Our hostess at the guest house has the fire going in the kitchen, smoke fills the air and our nostrils. Nescafé gets my heart going again and a brisk walk on the street defrosts my bones. We are ready.

nong hat - blog

A few hours later after driving through the most splendorous mountains we arrive at our first village and school. Now, had we landed in a flying saucer, walked up with green skin, two heads and six arms and said "take us to your leader" I doubt we would have caused more commotion. These are very remote and poor villages, some of the children had never seen white fellas like us before.

I sit on the ground surrounded by children. Completely stunned by our appearance, very raw emotions from fright to thrilled flicker across their beautiful and very curious faces. My camera is the perfect ice breaker as the results shown on the back screen causes huge surprises and ecstatic joy. This repeats itself at every village, every school and I manage to capture some portraits while the children totally capture my heart.

hmong kids - blog

View many more images in my Laos gallery, here: FlemmingBoJensen.com/gallery/laos/

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No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away

It is the latest album from one of my favourite bands, Mew. It is also somewhat fitting as I love to tell stories on this blog but I just don’t have a story today. Instead I have just a few images from my past weeks of work. Possibly not a bad trade, this is a photography blog after all.

What have I been up to? Well, I am saving all the images and stories for my new upcoming website. I am adding image files in the hundreds to my new site and typing in metadata till my fingers bleed. I am also processing all shots from the past 6 months of travel, including previously developed images from Thailand and Laos as I was unhappy with the stuff I developed on the road. Working 7-10 hours every day in Lightroom and Photoshop is a nice way to hone one’s post-processing skill. I have been toying with many new techniques and managed everything from awesome to plain weird results. Here’s a few images from Thailand and Laos, re-developed and different from my normal wide open spaces:

Thailand - Cosy Streetlife - copy - blog 

Laos Studying - web copy - blog

The street scenes in Thailand has awful colours from wildly different light sources at night. But once converted to duotone I felt the atmosphere come alive again. It is a great experience to eat at the street kitchens in the suburbs. Second image is from Laos, where I now have developed a lot more of the hmong children portraits. I re-discovered these images having not looked at them for long and am now loving them. Soft light blending of layers and high pass filtering with a healthy does of luminosity layers are Photoshop techniques that really shine on these sort of images I find.

That is all we have in the story book today. Much much more to come….launch approaching!

Recess

My life as a travelling ‘nomadic’ photographer is having a recess after 6 months of adventures through Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Australia and USA with great images, people, experiences and ups and downs. ‘Nomad’ traveling is a large magnifying glass. Perhaps I will write a more detailed report later. Now; rest and non-travelling.

I am now back in Copenhagen for a Summer siesta and work. I do not know what happens after that. Making this up as I go along. Once I catch up on sleep and seeing dear friends there are two big tasks ahead – completely new website and developing all the new images. Stay tuned, I shall continue blogging of course, new images will be posted.

Todays image is recess from one of the hmong village schools I visited in Laos, one of the highlights. These children were so raw, un-spoiled, curious and very charming, felt like adopting a few of them.

laos - recess - blog

Laos village children portraits

Avid readers of my blog know that my big love is landscapes, the amount of images I post with humans in them can be counted on…one finger I reckon! Some people consider any image without humans boring and the standard “there are no humans” is a too-well known statement. I always say it is merely whatever floats your boat photography wise. Some like macro insects, some like sports, some like portraits, some like landscapes! I have however always liked studying the good travel- and ethno-photographers and Laos gave me an opportunity to practice.

We visited extremely remote hmong hilltribe villages and schools for my friend’s research and here I had the chance to capture some of these gorgeous children. I shot hundreds of shots, mostly because the children were of course very interested (also slightly scared) of the camera and the magic lcd screen showing them an image or video of themselves. The boys were noticeably much more shy and of course being boys, playing it detached and cool, while the girls took to the camera quite fast. I present a couple of images that I shot after the first wauv factor had worn off allowing me to get some portraits where they were unaware of the camera. Meeting the children at the schools were a mindblowing experience. These are kids who live in remote villages, some of them had never seen white people before, they have nothing, they go to school but have no text books, no pencils etc. But they are incredibly strong and gorgeous survivors full of spirit, happiness and life. They have to be strong here to live, to survive. Given the right opportunities these tough strong kids can do absolutely anything as they are used to fighting for survival everyday.

First is this gorgeous girl who absolutely loved the camera. She is not hmong, I forget the name of the tribe. She has an incredible face.

laos village girl - blog

I also attempted to catch the children playing with the amazing mountains of East Laos as backdrops. Some of these villages and schools enjoy views that are out of this world! This is a couple of hmong girls playing.

hmong girls playing - blog

My primary love will always be wide open landscapes but I really enjoyed capturing these images. For this sort of work, the versatile 24-105mm Canon L lens proved very handy. I have much to learn and would like to hear your opinion on this little venture into ethno-photography.

Back from Laos

I have just returned to my home in Chiang Mai, Thailand after some mindblowing days in Laos. Most of the time was spent in remote hmong hilltribe villages in absolutely drop dead stunning mountain landscapes in the Xieng Khoung province. Driving through these mountains in a 4WD through stunning mountainscapes and then visiting villages so remote the kids had never met a "white fella” before. The joy, innocence, strength and laughter from these kids were moving and inspirational and hard to stop smiling and laughing. Naturally, the camera and watching themselves on the lcd screen caused a lot of stunned laughs from the kids!

I am nursing a hilltribe cold (warm in the day but at night in these mountains in a guesthouse with no heating and no windows – COLD!) so more to come later, more stories and many more images. Here’s one of the hmong tribe boys who instantly took to the camera, he tried to pose and appear in every shot:

hmong_coolkid