Tibetan Photo Shoot

November 10, 2008 | By Helen Tapping | News, Photography, Photojournalism

Today is the first day of our big photo shoot! We met the students after an early breakfast and went down to Mcloud Ganj to see if our compassionate nun was home. We knew we were in the right place because we were greeted by an abundance of dogs but no one else was home. When the dogs started to growl and circle us, we quickly exited the area.


Picture by Tenzin Lhakpa

Because the nun is central to our story, we are a little lost on what to do next. First we decided to find out why she is not at home and she had a good reason. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is back in town after being hospitalized. The whole town is going to greet him, including our nun. We decided to follow the steady stream of nuns, monks and backpackers to the main street by the temple.



While we were waiting, the students practiced their photography techniques, including portraiture, framing, capturing the “sweet light” – a popular Josh-ism – and even asking nuns and monks to pose as a back up if our other nun didn’t appear later.

After an hour wait, His Holiness arrived in a motorcade and we got a fleeting glimpse of him. One of our students even got this snap (look in the front seat):


Photo by Phunima

Then, we visited the temple where His Holiness lives before heading back to complete our task for the day.

Yep, back to photographing the dog lady.

As the students (and myself if I’m being completely honest) are still nervous from our previous, angry dog encounter at the house, Lori – one of the Bridges to Understanding staff comes with us. She quickly earns a new nickname – The Dog Whisperer.

This time at the house we call out in unison (and in Tibetan) to the nun, Sonam Tsering, to come out of the house. She suddenly emerges in a mass of barking dogs and climbs up the dark, narrow steps to meet us. The kids jump into action (except Lhakpa who is busy hiding behind me) and a very chaotic paparazzi moment begins. With bulbs flashing and dogs barking and the children yelling in Tibetan.

It gets dark quickly and we have to leave. After cajoling a reluctant Lhakpa into a quick shot with the nun:


Photo by Tenzin Dadon

Chungdak finishes recording the dogs for some ambient noise for our digital story. We shout our goodbyes leaving the nun alone among the barking mass once more.

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