An intrigued Black Lahu elder, and his amused friend, looks at his portrait for the first time. This picture was taken on film in 1979 in a remote village far from a road in Mae Hong Son province in Thailand. The old man had not only never seen a photograph before, he had never been to a town, ridden in a car or seen a westerner. He asked me if I had come from the moon, as he had seen planes fly overhead.

I am an Australian expat living in the hills of Mae Hong Son province Thailand (please visit cavelodge.com). I photograph almost everything, above and below ground.

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Comments

  • jean-louis bouzou
    jean-louis bouzouover 5 years ago

    Very beautiful portraits !!!

  • Lass With a Camera
    Lass With a Ca...over 5 years ago

    It’s funny that you take for granted photos and forget how magical it must be seeing one for the first time! Beautiful shot and story!

  • Dusker
    Duskerover 5 years ago

    Wonderful photo of lovely people. To catch this moment is indeed magical.

  • John Spies
    John Spiesover 5 years ago

    Thanks macro magnon and Dusker. The subjects are both deceased now, but they were lovely people. The man on the left, Ja Lek, was the village blacksmith, an opium addict like all of the other elderly men in the village back then (which gives him his scrawny chest), and a very kind man. It was a pleasure to be able to have the opportunity to be give him his first photograph. I will search my pics and look for the original shot that I took of him.

  • Critical  Vision
    Critical Visionover 5 years ago

    Brilliant shot John and what a lovely interesting tale.

  • Thanks Critical, appreciated

    – John Spies

  • Sue  Cullumber
    Sue Cullumberover 5 years ago

    John – great portrait with a wonderful story!

  • Sue, glad you liked it, thanks John

    – John Spies

  • micheleirene
    micheleireneover 5 years ago

    Brilliant image! And what a great story! You live such an interesting life John :)

  • It has been quite a trip. I have written a book about it, still looking for a publisher…

    – John Spies

  • Angie Muccillo
    Angie Muccilloover 5 years ago

    I was just wondering if you had a book!! This image really moves me, their expressions are priceless. Magnificent work :-)0

  • Hi Angie, appreciate the comment. For many yeqars i did a bit of sporadic photojournalism, usually when i was low on cash…and many of my hilltribe etc pics have appeared in Mags like Australian Geo…but this photo has never been published. And, as for a book, hhmm, I have written one about my life, tentatively titled ‘Wild Times’, and am in the process of looking for an agent/publisher. Hopefully it will have many of my photos in it. If i do manage to get it published or go the self publishing route i will let people know on this site. thanks John

    – John Spies

  • Angie Muccillo
    Angie Muccilloover 5 years ago

    That’s great John, I will look out for the book! I’ve noticed that quite a few red bubblers have published their work using blurb.com Thanks for posting these rare images, your work is incredible. Cheers.. Angie

  • Jordan Miscamble
    Jordan Miscambleover 5 years ago

    A great captured moment in time!

  • Thanks for the comment Jordan, appreciated.

    – John Spies

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