Polaroid Project 4: Laos

In the following galleries, mouse over the images for pop-up captions. Click the thumbnails to view full-sized images in slideshow mode. For more info on the Polaroid Project, check out the Polaroid Project Archives.

About an hour walk from Muang Ngoi, we came upon Bana Village amid rice paddies and beautiful mountains. A few groups of children posed for pictures and excitedly watched each one develop. One mother wanted a photo holding her toddler son, but every time we brought out the camera, he’d cry and shy away from a picture. Another ~3 year old boy seemed like a perfect candidate for the Polaroid Project, but when we offered a photo, he pulled out a knife. Some kids just aren’t into it… As we made our way through the village, a group of kids we’d given photos when we first arrived found us to give Ting some flowers they’d collected.

After viewing the sunset from atop Mt. Phousi in the heart of Luang Prabang, we met a group of kids near the base of the mountain. We didn’t have our Polaroid camera with us at the time, but the kids were fascinated by the big DSLR strapped around Ting’s neck. They asked to be photographed and eagerly posed. After every photo, they’d look at the images on the camera’s LCD screen and giggle. The girl in the blue dress was the ringleader. Once they were done admiring the previous photo, she would arrange her friends in a new configuration and ask for another photo. We wished we could have given them each a photo of their own to keep, but even fleeting glimpses of themselves on the tiny screen seemed to make their days.

Outside the entrance of Kuang Si Waterfall we were introduced to the dark side of the Polaroid project. Two girls sat together, eating yogurt, and spilling it all over themselves. We approached with the Polaroid camera but with only one picture remaining in the current set of film. We asked if they’d like a photo, and they posed while flashing a lazy peace sign mid-bite of yogurt. They excitedly watched it develop until the bossy one (in the darker pink) took hold of the photo and wouldn’t let go. The other girl started wailing hysterically and ran to her mother. We rushed to switch in a new set of film. The photoless girl hesitantly agreed to pose for a teary-eyed picture with her mother. After watching it develop, she seemed content to forgive her friend’s earlier theft. The two girls went back to being friends, eating yogurt, and spilling all over themselves. Lesson learned: Don’t bring candy unless you have enough for the whole class…

After our trip to the waterfall, we rode our motorbike to the Luang Prabang bus station to buy tickets for our bus into Thailand the following day. As we pulled in, two boys approached us, interested in our shiny new motorbike. They posed for a photo together. After seeing the results, the boy in the yellow wanted a photo sitting with our bike. We put him on top of the bike (that was much bigger than him) and he threw both arms up in the air for his picture. Thrilled with his shots, he collected all his friends from around the bus station and helped them all get a picture. Having learned our lesson at the waterfall, we made sure each kid had his/her own photo to take home.

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