Diana Instant Back+ in Tibet: More than Polaroids

11

Traveled to the Himalayas in Tibet with 6 cameras this summer, seeking enlightenment and great lomography. But the pictures I love most are not the ones I took but the ones I gave.

Went to Burning Man festival last year. Besides the costumes, the desert arts, the pyrotechnics and the crazy parties, one thing I love about it was their spirit of giving. It’s just nice to see generosity bouncing around so freely. But I have to admit, it was also a bit contrived to drive all the way into a desert in order to be super nice to some middle-class strangers.

For 2011, I decided do something slightly more authentic. So when my sister Facebooked me and suggested traveling to Tibet together, I jumped on the opportunity.

Despite regional instability, visa issues, and compulsory 24/7 tour guides for foreigners, thousands of tourists pass through the Tibet every year, each clicking away with their expensive cameras.

Credits: ihave2pillows

To us, children and nomads of the highest plain represent golden photo opportunities, the last drops of innocence on earth. Americans pay USD$30,000 to go on photography tours here. But the Tibetans? Globalization has brought Hershey’s Kisses chocolates to the shelves of expensive supermarkets in Lhasa, but on the vast plains of the Tibetan plateau, life at 5000m above sea level depends on yak dung. Most Tibetans are battling Chinese occupation, poverty, harsh elements and global warming. Many of these poor people have never had a camera, let alone owning photos of themselves or their loved ones.

So there I was, after 55 hours on the Qingzang railway plus 3 days on a Jeep, high up in the Himalayas by the glacier, waving my Qing Hua Diana F+ and the Instant Back+ around, giving out Polaroids.

Knowing that some African tribes hate cameras stealing their souls, I initially had some reservations as to whether Tibetan would warm up to the idea. But in no time, kids gathered around me, adults pushing to the front, crowds and lines spontaneously formed. I didn’t even need explain what I was doing.

Like any tourist visiting a third world country, I was swarmed by street (mountain) kids and local vendors. But instead of pushing souvenirs or asking for spare change, they wanted a Polaroid to shake. Perhaps it’s their first portrait? Things got a little hectic at our Himalayas vista point, I had trouble getting back into the Jeep and closing the door without snapping off some dirty little fingers. That was how I got my first bout of high-altitude sickness. That was how I forgot to take my own picture with the Himalayas and had to stop and retake it.

Credits: ihave2pillows

That afternoon, when I saw a father happily tucked away his son’s picture inside his robes and a mother chased me down eagerly put her 1yo in front of me, I knew the Polaroids were more than Polaroids. In a very small way, it touched their hearts. The whole experience has given my Lomography a new meaning.

Thank you Lomography. Thank you Diana Instant Back. Thank you Fuji Instax.

I didn’t get keep any of those little portraits. Some of those kids didn’t even let me see how their photo turned out, worrying I might take it away. This picture below is the only record I have, but I have many LomoWalls scattered halfway up Mount Everest. That warm feeling? Yeah, it will stay with me for a very long time.

Next time you travel, think about taking as well as giving pictures.

Credits: ihave2pillows

Recreate your favourite Diana camera dreamy effects in an instant photo with the Diana Instant Back+! Experience instant photo gratification by simply attaching the Diana Instant Back+ to any Diana+ camera and load it with Fuji Instax Mini film. Get your own Diana Instant Back+ now!

The Diana F+ Qing Hua edition is specially designed by designer-illustrator Dorothy Tang. The camera’s vintage Chinese appeal perfectly matches the Diana F+ trademark soft-focus and dreamy qualities. See it with the rest of the Diana Clones here!

written by ihave2pillows on 2011-09-20 in #lifestyle #polaroid #polaroids #poverty #tibet #diana-instant-back #fuji-instax-mini #children #mountain #china #adventure #travel #revelation #portraits #himalayas

11 Comments

  1. wonderdude
    wonderdude ·

    Instant photos are so fun! I almost never keep the photos I take of other people.
    It's kind of funny that shaking intant film while it develops doesn't help at all. Shaking it really hard can even damage and distort the image. Perhaps this could be a new Lomo technique to try out? :)

  2. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    @wonderdude Very true :) Shaking doesn't help? lol and everyone's doing it? lol Too funny! I have seen Polaroids with wonky corners and marks that look like spider webs. Perhaps those are caused by extreme shaking? Let's test it out :)

  3. wonderdude
  4. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    I see I see. So they did need to shake back in the days but not anymore. Thanks for the link :)

  5. blue-dog
    blue-dog ·

    I went on a four month trip in the mid80's to Guatemala with 60 some double boxes of Polaroid Time Zero instant film to give away. Gave away some of the best portraits I have ever done to the most beautiful, deserving, kind people I have ever met. Thank you for sharing ihave2pillows

  6. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    @blue-dog What a lovely experience :) It'd be amazing if we could trace down those portraits and see how much their owners have grown and evolved since then!

  7. itisanormalname
    itisanormalname ·

    greatgreat great!

  8. v3ml
    v3ml ·

    Great article and great memories!

  9. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    TRUELY BEAUTIFUL. I also inspired much by Agustinus Wibowo agustinuswibowo.wordpress.com/ self confessed home-boy who had a great backpacking experience to tell. I watch it at one of Indonesian tv channel. He almost being raped by older man at some place at nowhere, he also found great fact about ex USSR region when neighbor area are different country with a lot of rule, etc. Traveling are really our basic need as a human and as a home boy kind of man, I will go to Tibet someday, Amin YRA =)

  10. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    @itisanormalname @v3ml @hervinsyah Thank you both :-) I'm thinking about starting a long-term travel-photography project on KickStarter.com to involve my community for another community. See what happens :-)

  11. af-capture
    af-capture ·

    Great ! Good luck with the project!

More Interesting Articles

  • Reviving An Old Polaroid 1000 Camera

    written by Wessel de Haas on 2015-02-13 in #gear #reviews
    Reviving An Old Polaroid 1000 Camera

    Some time ago, my parents-in-law gave me an old Polaroid camera that they used during my wife's childhood. After some investigation, I found out that Polaroid had stopped making instant film. But the factory in Enschedé, the Netherlands had been taken over by The Impossible Project, so I bought a package of fresh film and gave it a try!

  • 18 Awesome Belair X 6-12 Squares

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-13 in #gear #news
    18 Awesome Belair X 6-12 Squares

    Having a Belair X 6-12 feels like owning more than just one camera. It's a medium-format camera, but paired with its special accessories you can shoot 35mm or instant photos with it, too! The versatility of its 3 photo formats also offers more options to suit your shooting needs. Here, we present to you some of the most gorgeous Belair X 6-12 photos in classic 6x6 format. Enjoy!

    11
  • A Salute to the Masters: Ice Skating (A Tribute to Monte Fresco)

    written by sirio174 on 2016-01-09 in #world #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: Ice Skating (A Tribute to Monte Fresco)

    This article is dedicated to one of the finest British sport photographers, Monte Fresco. In his 30 years of reportage for the Daily Mirror, he took some of the most iconic photographs in sporting history. He covered football, tennis, and boxing. But it is his ice skating pictures that I am most fascinated with. Using my own lens, I give him a modern tribute.

  • Shop News

    Pixelstick

    Pixelstick

    The most incredible lightpainting tool is here! Consists of 200 full color RGB LEDs in a lightweight aluminium housing will color your analogue world in different way! Create and animate different shades and shapes with the Pixelstick!

  • Lomography X Leuchtturm1917 Competition - Winner Announcement

    written by Lomography on 2015-11-28 in #world #news #competitions
    Lomography X Leuchtturm1917 Competition - Winner Announcement

    In partnership with Leuchtturm1917, we were on the hunt for the most colorful pictures in your LomoHomes. You accepted our challenge and submitted more than one thousand brightly colored photos! The time has come to choose the winners.

    14
  • Win Tickets for Melt! Festival in Germany

    written by petit_loir on 2015-06-29 in #world #competitions #videos
    Win Tickets for Melt! Festival in Germany

    There is nothing more refreshing than escaping one's everyday life for to unpack a camping tent and spend a wonderful weekend with friends for a few days during summer. Some of the coolest festivals are calling and there's a special one in Germany that is a must-see in July: Melt! festival. Win two tickets for this spectacular event to be held from July 17 to 19. Show us your most beautiful festival moments.

  • Pushing Boundaries: Multiple Exposing Film Soup

    written by Amber Valentine on 2015-04-21 in #world #tipster
    Pushing Boundaries: Multiple Exposing Film Soup

    As you may have read in my previous article, I truly fell in love with Lomography when I combined my Fisheye camera with an old Canon AE-1 for magical photographic results. Last summer, I took so many pictures of flowers that it started to become almost boring for me. My waning interest and the coming winter meant that I had to figure out something else to do with my 35mm film.

    1
  • Shop News

    Experience Sleek Medium Format Shots of Belair City Slicker!

    Experience Sleek Medium Format Shots of Belair City Slicker!

    Take high-quality medium format shots, professional grade panoramas and get tons of customizable features yet compact in size! Grab this camera at a discounted price!

  • Photo Stories: Children of the Desert by eleonorepairet

    written by eleonorepairet on 2015-05-28 in #world #lifestyle #locations
    Photo Stories: Children of the Desert by eleonorepairet

    My family and I were in Udaipur (India) for a wedding ceremony and decided to travel around the area. We went to Jaisalmer, one of the most gorgeous cities I have ever seen (located on the border with Pakistan) and decided to stop by the remote Thar Desert, which is where these pictures were taken.

    3
  • The Instant Project

    written by suizidekid on 2015-06-23 in #world #lifestyle
    The Instant Project

    It was a cold and cloudy winter day in 2012 when I came up with the idea of compiling photographs of people's faces. I decided that the most personal way to do it is through instant shots. They are one of a kind and you immediately have something in your hands.

    17
  • Registering Moments With the Lomo'Instant

    written by bgaluppo on 2015-05-02 in #gear #lifestyle
    Registering Moments With the Lomo'Instant

    Some people say instant photos bring about a feeling of nostalgia. Although I often use the Lomo'Instant Camera with different crazy accessories such as the Splitzer and color gels, I have to agree there is something about it — dreamy vignettes maybe? — that always makes me want to go back in time and experience it all over again. In the name of analogue photography and good old memories, we passed by some classic spots in Vienna and took one shot after the other. Take a closer look at our gallery.

  • Shop News

    the perfect surprise for every analogue loving enthusiast

     the perfect surprise for every analogue loving enthusiast

    Let your loved one pick the gift of their dreams. Lomography Online Shop Gift Certificates are the perfect present for every analogue devotee on your gift list

  • A Salute to the Masters: Judo (A Tribute to Sabine Weiss)

    written by sirio174 on 2015-04-18 in #world #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: Judo (A Tribute to Sabine Weiss)

    This article is a tribute to the street and humanist photographer Sabine Weiss. Considered a living legend in street photography, she likes to photograph daily lives of people, trying to capture the emotions she recognizes around her. Weiss like to photograph people of all ages but she especially loves to take photos of children, masterfully immortalizing their spontaneous gestures and emotions. For this article, I was inspired by one of her rare sports photos of some children practicing judo. Do you want to know more about this great artist? Well, read on!

  • Photo of the Day by meaghanrevans

    written by lomography on 2016-02-12 in #world #news
    Photo of the Day by meaghanrevans

    Landscape photography and a color-shifting film complement each other well, as seen in our winning POTD.

  • Petzval 58 Amigo: Richard Wong

    written by azinteimoori on 2016-02-12 in #people #news #lomoamigos
    Petzval 58 Amigo: Richard Wong

    Auckland-based photographer Richard Wong dabbles in everything from wedding photography to street photography, even Lego photography! In the midst of his busy schedule as photographer, camera reviewer and father, he sat down to speak with us about how he uses the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens in his diverse practice.