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I recently started watching BBC’s new documentary, Human Planet, and have been inspired by our species’ tenacity to survive in some of the world’s most remote places. From gathering honey high up in the tree tops of Africa’s Congo basin with nothing but a vine for security to hunting with golden eagles on the Altai mountain plateau of Western Mongolia. If you have a chance to view this series, I highly recommend you do! You’re in for an audiovisual treat of people surviving and thriving in some of the most hostile environments you can imagine.
Shadowing the film crews was photographer Timothy Allen; you can see some of his best shots in a BBC audio slideshow here. His environmental photography is something I can only aspire to. It truly showcases the beauty of indigenous peoples in their natural environment around the world.
On a recent trip to Sapa in Northern Vietnam, I took what is one of my favorite environmental portraits of a woman of the Red Dzao tribe. The Red Dzao are a part of the Dao ethnic group, one of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, and originally migrated from China in the 19th century. Dao wear traditional clothes and men and women typically cover their heads with red or black scarves or turbans.
After chatting for a few minutes with this beautiful lady, I asked her if I could take her picture. At first, she smiled and politely declined, saying that she was just an ugly old woman. I assured her that she had one of the most beautiful smiles I had seen in Sapa. She was not convinced, however she allowed me to take her picture.
You can see more pictures from my trip to Sapa here.