• Simon Thomas

The Stories Behind The Portraits

 


When we create a photographic print a little bit of magic happens. An image that was a visual collection of zero and one's, of pixels and colours, suddenly becomes tangible and real.


After 20 years of global travel and viewing our images on a small laptop perched on our laps, hunched over, inside a flapping tent, it's exciting to see and hold our printed images in the real world. We're evermore excited to be able to share those images with you via our new exhibition.


Thank you for giving us your time to drop in. Below you'll find some of the info and the story behind the images. We'll be updating this page regularly, so please check back.


Please enjoy and leave a comment if you can. We'd love to hear from you.


The Portraits


 


Title: The CandleMakers

Location: Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple), Kathmandu Nepal.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Clambering up over 300 steep stone steps that lead up to the temple was totally worth it to reach this beautiful stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. We were also rewarded with an amazing panoramic view of Kathmandu city. These young men make thousands of yak butter candles every day, seven days a week for visiting pilgrims.


 

Title: The Worn Prayer

Location: Bikaner, Rajasthan, India


Photographer: Simon Thomas

We were not too sure if this lady had her hands together as a gesture of

prayer, giving thanks, or as a greeting to others. The hard life etched upon them caught our eye. This lady’s life has not been an easy

one.









 

Title: The Old Guard

Location: Fortress City of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

One of our favourite portraits from India; this old-guard in the fort of Jaisalmer was guarding a doorway to a small stone temple. The look on his face makes you wonder what he’s thinking, what hardships he’s faced and what his life has been like.










 


Title: Quiet Contemplation

Location: Angkor Wat Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

This is the largest religious monument in the world and the 3 days we spent walking and photographing this amazing temple made us feel like we had only just skimmed its surface. This lady was quietly saying prayers and lighting candles in front of the one remaining sculptures of the deity Vishnu.



 

Title: Little Boy Blue

Location: Unknown Village, East Pakistan.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Our exit from Pakistan was to be on its eastern border with India. Stopping for a brief moment to pick up food we saw this young boy taking a short rest. His day consisted of taking the small round balls of chapati dough, flattening them and then baking them on an Tava (steel griddle) over an open fire. This was his life at, we think, the tender age of 7 or 8 years old.



 


Title: Life Is Hard

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Throughout our travels, there is one thing that you can almost guarantee you can purchase in every country……Coca Cola! From the Gobi in Mongolia to a shack in Mauritania Africa or here in the city of Phnom Penh Cambodia, someone somewhere will be selling it. I love the fearsome stare this little boy is giving! It's almost like he thinks I want his coke. This was a quick street snap taken in one of the small back streets of the city of Phnom Penh.



 


Title: Amritsar Moments

Location: Amritsar, India.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Some photographs we take are just because of a look, a stare or a glint in someone's eye. Others are because we see people who wear their life like a texture

across their face.



 


Title: The Cover-up

Location: Hampi, India.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Even though most of her face is covered, the ease with which she handled her beautiful dupatta (shawl) was an art form in itself!





 



Title: Time-out in George Town

Location: George Town, Penang, Malaysia.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Despite the hustle and bustle of this busy city, we were able to take time out to sit and grab a coffee with this very relaxed Kedai Kopi (white coffee) shop owner.



 



Title: Our Protector

Location: On The Road, west Pakistan.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

During our time travelling in Pakistan in 2009, we were provided with an armed guard whilst on the road as that year was a particularly volatile one. Every guard who travelled with us was very approachable and always happy to pose!




 


Title: Child chaiwala

Location: North of Islamabad, Pakistan.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Every day during our travels in both Pakistan and India we would stop at one of the many roads side shacks and take chai (tea). Ours was always a masala chai. We know this young boy had a hard life at the beck and call of his chaiwala.




 



Title: The Protest

Location: Salta, Argentina.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

During our time in South America, we experienced many demonstrations. In Argentina, these are commonly known as Cacerolazos, where as much noise as possible is made using pots, pans, drums, and whistles…..the noisier the better. This young woman was taking part in a demonstration of indigenous farmers and workers.



 



Title: The Initiation

Location: Sangkhlaburi, Thailand.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

As we entered this small little town tucked away in between forests and mountains, we were met by throngs of people all lifting these vibrantly dressed young men onto their shoulders: Their last period of excess prior to entering the monastery.



 



Title: Playing with Fire

Location: New Orleans, USA.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Just how does one train to become a fire-eater, as you cant make many mistakes in

your learning can you? We grabbed this hot shot in the sultry city of New Orleans.






 



Title: Daily chores

Location: Tungabhadra River, Hampi, India.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

We spent a magical morning photographing the local townsfolk of this ancient city. It appeared to us that the city's entire population would walk to the river bank to complete their morning tasks!




 


Title: The Hunter

Location: Ölgii West Mongolia.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Passing through the Altai mountains in western Mongolia we were lucky

enough to meet the burkitshi (eagle-hunters), with their golden eagles.

These female eagles were huge with around an 8-foot wingspan.




 


Title: The Water Carrier

Location: Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

Wrinkles are the survival lines of life and each one tells a story. This water carrier has surely seen a long, hard life.















 


Title: Karen Long Neck

Location: North East Thailand.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

The Karen are a tribal group who have historically lived in the hills in Myanmar.

Visiting the Karen Long Neck village in northeast Thailand we had been concerned that the experience might feel manufactured. it didn’t. But we made sure to take our time to talk and not just hide behind our cameras. With no common language, sign language and a smile goes a long way









 


Title: The Stogie

Location: Havana, Cuba.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

We never thought that, in our lifetimes, it would be a possibility to get to travel through and photograph Cuba. Habaneros (people who live in the city of Havana) are mostly of Spanish ancestry, but some, like this striking lady, are Afro-Cuban. What a face, what a stare!












 



Title: The ravages of time

Location: Leon, Nicaragua.


Photographer: Simon Thomas

We spotted this old lady selling vegetables in the town square of Leon. We’re not sure how old she was but she was obviously struggling. There are many times during our travels that we have felt totally helpless to help.












 











Thank you for dropping by. We'll be adding info and background to this age over the next few weeks so please check it out again and get a proper look at the story of each of the images.



Good luck and have fun with whatever you're up to.


Please leave a comment or a like if you found this article useful.




 

Simon Thomas


Professional photographer based in Wales, United Kingdom, and founder of LIVING LENS PHOTOGRAPHY. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, BMW Motorrad, Adobe and SENA.