With Love from Tibet

Photography by Jill Gocher

“Travel has always been my passion, and photography another. My aim is to extract from the broad canvas of life; to distill a moment; an expression; a point of view, rather than simply record! Life is so full, and it is our individual task as artists to make it more simple, more pure.

These photos are all taken in Eastern Tibet – an area way outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). When Tibet was invaded they moved the borders, decreasing the size of Tibet by more than fifty per cent. But political borders are not cultural borders and the Tibetan culture remains – as strong as it ever was.

Most of the portraits were taken with a Hasselblad, which makes it easier to approach people without a camera stuck to your face. My aim was to make portraits of these people – plain, unadorned by any artifice, just the people as they are.

The technique is to fix the camera settings and then attract the subject’s attention – there were only seconds to work before they froze, so most of these shots are one-shot wonders. It’s a very challenging way to photograph but I believe the results are worth it. My aim was to depict people in their natural milieu. Monks, mothers, horse traders and brave Khampa cowboys – all inhabitants of the Eastern Tibet Region known as Kham.

The people are wonderful, earthy, humble and devout Buddhists, all with strong allegiance to HH The Dalai Lama. I would walk around with a bag full of postcards hissing, ‘pssst Dalai Lama’. Even though his picture wasn’t outright banned, as it was in places closer to Lhasa, nobody had pictures and everyone wanted them. I felt I was doing at least something for the cause.”

– JG.