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Book and webdesign by Maud

I first became fascinated with Tibet in the late 1990s through books and movies introduced to me by friends and through the Tibetan Freedom Concerts put together by New York hip hop artists the Beastie Boys. To me Tibet seemed like a magical land, a bit like a dream and a world away, a land of spirits and lamas (Tibetan Monks), it felt so much like another world I never imagined being able to spend time in such a place.

In 2001 I stayed on in Asia after a two month surfing trip in Indonesia. I travelled overland on my own through southeast Asia without any plans or slightest idea that I would end up in Tibet. I found myself being drawn further north, ending up in Kham, eastern Tibet. Instantly I felt at home and connected like nowhere else I had ever been; it was everything that I had ever imagined, I felt so fortunate and grateful to be there.

I was particularly taken by the people of Kham with their wildness and sense of freedom, their nomadic life, their devotion to Buddhism and the deities, and their connection with the land, the mountains, the rivers and their animals, especially the yak and their horses. After arriving back home in Sydney, I studied photography for two years and spent a further four years assisting Australia’s most respected fashion and portrait photographers. I don't think a day would have passed where I hadn't thought of Tibet and dreamt of returning.

In 2007 I returned to Kham for eight weeks with the intention to capture the Khampas on film to document and share their spirit and to spread knowledge about Tibet. All the photos in this book are from this period. The approach I took in taking the photos was to immerse myself into the culture and the landscape. I did not carry around my camera on every occasion. I sat and hung out with the Khampas, ate with the Khampas, drank with the Khampas, and absorbed myself into the landscape around me. In this way I was able to connect deeply with the Khampas and their way of life. When I did take a photo it was in an interactive space, as the Khampas did their daily prayer, tended to their animals, and their nomad camps.

By being immersed into the culture I was able to understand the subtle lines of communication, and the appropriate time to take a photo, the space within the space. I was truly touched by the strong and gentle hearts of the Khampas and by connecting with them on a heart level I feel this is what makes my photos unique, taken with great sensitivity. You can almost see through their eyes into their soul, in a deep and touching way.

The photographs were shot on an old 'V' series Hasselblad medium format camera, using both colour and black and white negative film.