“Without atmosphere, a painting is nothing.”
This week my good friend, artist Jane Iwan, did a post featuring a painting she had done from one of my photographs. Check it out at her site, Jane Iwan Studio. My original photograph is shown above. Jane’s comment, that it feels like stepping back to a different moment in time, captured my sentiments perfectly.
“The past become a texture, an ambience to our present.”
Laos’ history is replete with feuds, warfare and painful treatment of its people. In recent times although the US supported Laos, it is said they suffered some of the worst bombing in the history of warfare as we attempted to destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail, a primary Communist supply route primarily located in Laos. Based on their history, it is no wonder their focus is on a simpler life of appreciation for family, freedom and basic necessities.
Light creates ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of structure.”
Our visit to Laos was part of a much larger trip to Southeast Asia, a fascinating world so different from our own. The sights and smells of Bangkok, the wonder of Angkor Wat, the beauty of Ha Long Bay, the dichotomy of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) vs Hanoi and so many other fascinating experiences all helped us to understand and appreciate the people and places we’d only seen in books.
“Let us drown in the delicious ambience of love.”
We saw some beautiful hotels and delicately scrolled ironwork, remnants of Laos’ time as a French Colony. Luang Prabang, the country’s capital city prior to the Communist takeover, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its architecture and its preservation of Laotian heritage. It is also known as a Buddhist religious center. Each morning at dawn, hundreds of monks walk the streets of the city collecting alms – an amazing experience.
“Ambience is an unstudied grace – the grace of human dignity.”
Luang Prabang is considered by many to represent the heart of Laotian culture. Surrounded by mountains and located along the Mekong River, it is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Southeast Asia, and is one of their premier tourist destinations. A leisurely boat ride down the Mekong helped us to appreciate the Laotians whose lives revolve around the river – fishing, boating or farming the shoreline.
“The magnificent ambience of love will inevitably leave its seal.”
Finally, although my predominant memories of Laos were of a land of rather muted colors, it was in one of their night markets that I took one of my favorite photographs ever. The display of colorful umbrellas spoke to me of pure joy. It is one of the few photographs I’ve framed in my own home, and makes me smile every time I look at it. What could be better than that?