the black & white of bhutan

pictures from the last shangri-la



photography essay and talk 

ubud centre for creative photography 

- at taksu photo gallery

ubud bali

13 february 2016

6:30pm


Bhutan has been romanticised as the last Shangri-La. Most often, typical pictures brought back from Bhutan are of breathtaking mountain landscapes, monasteries hanging off sheer cliff walls; jubilant and colourful festival dancers; or solemn monks draped in maroon robes.

marklchaves mark l chaves photographer writer street photography black and white paro bhutan

paro bhutan 2014

The ‘Black & White of Bhutan’ is Chaves’ metaphor that attempts to free Bhutan’s overlooked imagery from the distractions of tourism and the exaggerations of colour. Instead of showing us the well-trodden tourist path, he offers scenes that create a sense of global connection and community rather than isolation and over embellishment. The black & white imagery symbolises the harmony of yin and yang. Emphasising what-is, over manufactured perceptions of beauty and ugliness.

mark l chaves photographer bhutan writer himalayas chele la pass

chele la pass bhutan 2014

In general, tours of the country are highly regulated with strict itineraries. Bhutan, a country known for its isolation, officially opened its borders to foreign tourism only in 2010. Television and the Internet were allowed just eleven years before, in 1999.

mark l chaves marklchaves bhutan travel photography himalayas paro portrait writer photographer

paro bhutan 2014

“I had a rare opportunity to live in Bhutan from June 2014 to January 2015. This allowed me to photograph daily life as a resident of this Himalayan kingdom. I hope to present a more balanced view of Bhutan. A view that draws upon cross-culture similarities of the challenges and rewards of every day life.”
—mark l chaves

marklchaves mark l chaves photographer writer bhutan travel photography writer

coki traditional art school bhutan 2014

mark l chaves marklchaves bhutan travel photography himalayas paro portrait writer photographer

young house keeper for the resort service staff

marklchaves mark l chaves photographer writer street photography black and white thimphu bhutan gross national happiness

the main street of bhutan's capital, thimphu, transformed into an open air market

marklchaves bhutan freelance photographer writer bali indonesia

a smile goes a long way in bhutan

getting lost deep in the himalayas

marklchaves bhutan freelance photographer writer bali indonesia

getting inspired

bhutan black and white documentary travel photography mark l chaves freelance photographer bali indonesia

the photographer

marklchaves bhutan freelance photographer writer bali indonesia

into the wild

Using Format