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Global Faith

I´ve been inspired once again by Steve McCurry, what can I say the guy´s a genius.

A recent blog post by entitled A Matter of Faith seems to have got the travel photographers of world stirring as other photographers share their faith based imagery. So I thought I´d jump on this band wagon and enjoy the ride along with both David Sanger (blog title: Images of Faith) and Craig Ferguson (blog title: Of The East). It also gives me a chance to show some of my older images.

As always comments are most welcome.

Sadu at Kumbh mela 2010

Sadhu at Kumbh Mela, Haridwar, India. 2010

Catholic carrying the cross during Santa Semana festivities in Madrid, Spain. 2010

Catholic carrying the cross during Santa Semana festivities in Madrid, Spain. 2010

Sadhu with a trident, Varanasi, India. 2006

Sadhu with a trident, Varanasi, India. 2006

Novice monks outside Mingun Pahtodawgyi, Myanmar. 2008

Novice monks outside Mingun Pahtodawgyi, Myanmar. 2008

Monk outside Schwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar. 2008

Monk outside Schwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar. 2008

Novice monk hiding in colourful ribbons, Bangkok, Thailand. 2008

Novice monk hiding in colourful ribbons, Bangkok, Thailand. 2008

 
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    Cyclone Nargis

    2 Years ago Cyclone Nargis devastated southern Burma killing an estimated 140 000 people and displacing millions from there homes. The subsequent  behaviour of the ruling military junta was nothing but disgraceful, at the time there was real talk about helping free the Burmese from their harshly restricted lives, there was even talk of military intervention against the rulers but nothing came of it, their cause has been all but forgotten.

    By coincidence I was in Burma at the time of the cyclone. Fortunately I was in the North when the cyclone hit, however my family had no idea where in the country I was and 4 or 5 days of not hearing from me panic kicked in, and they began to think the worst. Newspapers, radio and tv crews jumped at the story of ´UK photographer missing in Burma´ There was no way to contact anyone, no Internet, no telephone, hell there was even no electricity for days and days. Obviously I was safe and made it home shortly afterwards, but the whole experience taught me so much about how fragile life is, particularly for those in poorer nations.

    If you´d like to see more of my images from this tragic event I´ve put together a short youtube video that should appear below.

    A happier blog post coming soon. For more details on the state of Burma visit www.humanrightsactioncenter.org

     
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      Remember Burma week:Day 2

      Ok so here we go on day 2 of the official Tom Bourdon’s remember Burma week.

      After flying in to Rangoon I settled into a nice hotel and spent the next 2 days shooting, planning, meeting the locals and drinking plenty of tea. I headed north on a private bus. Thus avoiding the much more comfortable faster and cheaper  train which is owned by the government. I wanted to spend as much of my budget with local people and private companies giving as little as possible to the ruling junta – if that meant an uncomfortable bus ride so be it, in comparison to financing the military was nothing.

      I arrived in the city of Mandalay where I stay for a week and met some great people including some young boys fishing in the Ayeyarwady river pictured below.

      (IMAGE MISSING)

      The monks in Mandalay were very open about the political situation and really wanted to know about life outside of Burma. I remember one monk asking me “How did you know Burma even existed before you arrived?” the only reply I could think of was “…from reading books”. The people of Burma know so little about life in the rest of the world, the government strictly control the access people have to things like tv channels, books and newspapers, they block many websites and limit the speed of all internet connections just to stop people learning how badly they are being treated. Websites as mundane as hotmail were blocked let alone anything political.

      So now you remember the devastation from Nargis across parts of Southern Burma. You also remember the world outrage at the way the Generals refused to allow aid agencies or anyone from ‘outside’ to help the victims.  But did you know that they even turned on there own citizens that tried to help news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7547484.stm.

      Speak to you tomorrow.

       
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        Remember Burma week: Day 5

        And finally we reach the last day of the remember Burma week, I promise next week I’ll give you something a little more exciting to read.

        So I headed back to Rangoon, unsure what I might find, I planned to settle in to the same hotel and then go out shooting as much as I could, what I found was that almost every tree and lamp post had been uprooted leaving pavements leaving them looking like they were made of sand.

        What I also found was that my hotel now had a rather big tree resting on top of it.

        Unfortunately I was getting low on CF cards and my camera batteries were pretty drained too as the entire country was suffering from loss of electricity, since the storm struck so I hadn’t been able to recharge for some time. I spent the rest of the day shooting, the sights in the capital were no where near as severe as some of the images Ive seen from further south.

        I was starting to get nervous about being one of very few photographers in Burma at this stage at the best of times the government don’t like journalists or photographers and wont issue visas to either (but there’s the obvious get around of just witting a different occupation on the application form, which is fine until you get caught and I was standing out just a little bit walking around with my massive 1Ds MKII) , I knew I had to be quick and get out fast before I got into trouble and possibly lost the shots I already had and who knows what else. The next day I left and flew immediately back to my family, who appeared totally shocked, they really thought they were never going to see me again.

        I’d like to just take this moment tho thank everyone who helped my family though that time (including the British embassy who notified my girlfriend I was safe and well 3 weeks after I arrived back in the UK), so hank you everyone.

        Above Dow Tim Mya who recieved facial injuries when cyclone Nargis hit the South Dagon Township 20 km from central Rangoon. She says the hospital has no medication to help her and that she has heard nothing from from government.

        Whilst the country is rebuilding itself after the cyclone, politically nothing has improved, if anything its worsened because now the entire world knows about the brutal regime that rules Burma, even the UN have visited but nothing has been done.

        To find out more about the situation in Burma visit www.burmacampaign.org.uk and help this beautiful nation.

         
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          Remember Burma week:Day 4

          Ok so here we go on day 4.

          When I arrived in Bagan I found out that there had been a ‘big storm’ in Rangoon and it had knocked out all the telephone and Internet connections, thinking the phone lines would be back soon a few days later still no telephone or Internet connections and people started talking about a ‘really big storm’ and someone mentioned that they thought 3 people had died when a boat sank. I started to think that perhaps my family were starting to worry having not heard from me for several days.

          I then traveled to Inle, an absolutely stunning town, and took a boat tour around several cottage industries including the weaving factory below. I personally found the tour not to my taste but was able to get access to some great shots that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

          It was while I was in Inle that I heard the full story of cyclone Nargis on the BBC world service, the numbers of dead started around 30 000 and kept rising every few hours.

          I realised my family must now be seriously worried but there was still no way to make contact. Despite rumours that some other travelers had managed to get Internet connections, my every attempted failed. Finally one evening I managed to get a connection and send an email home and realised just how worried my family had been, they had assumed I was dead. They had contacted everyone, embassies, the BBC, ambassadors, one of the people they contacted was Lyn Hughes at Wanderlust magazine (who Ive I’ve been told was fantastically supportive, thanks Lyn and the team at Wanderlust) and I even get a mention on the wanderlust blog.

           
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            Remember Burma week:Day 3

            While I was in the Northern city of Mandalay I had a few trips to smaller towns the first of which was Mingun who’s main attraction is the ruined Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the remains of an unfinished stupa (a place for Buddhist worship). The stupa was never completed and was massively damaged by an earthquake in 1838. What remains is incredibly impressive and is currently the worlds largest pile of bricks (what ever thats worth).

            The second town I visited was Amapura and the location of the worlds longest teak bridge, which was even more impressive than the pile of brinks.

            It was the night I left Mandalay that the cyclone struck, although my bus ride was similar to any other as I was well away from the storm but heading towards it. My next stop was Bagan

             
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              Tom Bourdon’s ‘Remember Burma week’

              6 months ago today I arrived in the Rangoon the capital of Burma to shoot the local people going about their daily lives, I knew the country was relatively politically unstable but I could not be prepared for what was to happen just 2 weeks later. For those of you who don’t remember (and sadly I believe there are many who don’t) I’m talking about the horrific cyclone Nargis that hit Burma on 3rd May 2008, leaving an estimated 140,000 people dead or missing…… One hundred and forty thousand people. Just think about that number for a second its 50 times more people than died in the September 11th attacks, yes 50 times! Its 20 000 more dead than in the 2004 tsunami. How come years later these events are still remembered by everyone, but just 6 months after cyclone Nargis people seem to have forgotten about the state, physically and politically, of this once British colony.

              5 Months ago people were calling on a mass scale to put pressure on the military regime in Burma, there was even talk of military intervention, and now nothing, not – a – thing. A couple of weeks ago a photojournalist friend from India expalined his thoughts on the situation “……Its because its Burma and no one cares what happens in Burma.” Sadly I think he’s correct.

              The Burmese people are the friendliest and nicest people I have ever met in all my travels and its such a shame that the world is turning a blind eye to the suffering, which is still continuing and will continue for some time if nothing is done, in what is a beautiful country.

              So I officially declare this Tom Bourdon’s ‘Remember Burma week’. Every day I will be adding some of my images as well as news video clips, links and stories of my time in Burma. I’m starting with this image, which I will be adding soon to my online galleries, of a Burmese woman wearing the traditional thanakha (a naturally produced makeup and sunscreen) selling flowers in Rangoon.

               
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