Photo: 9 Monks Pray

Photography can be fun. And most times I think it should be. I have often said that a camera need not be an intrusion into someone’s life. Depending on the photographers attitude, a camera can be accepted, and even welcomed into the lives of the subjects one photographs. Over the past year I have become friends with the monks at the local temple. Language is still somewhat of a barrier, but all of us try to overcome that with kindness and a willingness to accept a different culture. At first the monks accepted me and my camera with curiosity, and allowed their photos to be made as a gesture of kindness towards this white haired foreigner. As time went on I began giving CD’s of my photos to the monks, knowing that one or two of them have a computer. Soon I began to get requests to come photograph this or that event. I never turn them down, and today it is accepted that I will be at the temple with my camera at almost every event. Yesterday I had to chuckle a couple of times. I was outside making photos of the festivities when I hear my name over the loud speaker. “Mr. Lee” the announcer said followed by Thai which I did not understand. I saw my wife who was waving at me and told me the monks want me back inside because an important part of the ceremony was going to take place. Well, I thought to myself, I guess I’m accepted.  The next smile came after I returned to the temple. As I was getting ready to make an exposure, lying flat on my stomach ten feet from the group, Amm (second monk from the far end in the photo below) noticed me lying flat. That broke his concentration and he cracked up. He nudged the monk next to him, nodded at me and they both softly chuckled, then he gave me a thumbs up. When you live in a foreign land it’s a great thing to be accepted.

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