In early 2016 I spent several weeks traveling and making portraits in the lesser developed parts of Yunnan Province in southwest China. Historically, Yunnan played an important role in regional trade as it borders Tibet, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. The primary trade route was known as the “Tea Horse Road” because Yunnan tea growers traded their product for Tibetan ponies. Today, Yunnan remains home to considerable ethnic and language diversity making it a fascinating place to visit. The photographs in this small collection reflect that diversity.
As a travel photographer, one of my objectives is to convey a sense of place through the faces of the local people I meet. I found the people of Yunnan to be very welcoming and receptive. Before making a portrait I almost always engage with my subject - both out of respect for them and because anything I learn about them helps me make a better image. In Yunnan, I used a translator in some instances and, in other cases, I did my best with sign language and pantomime.
- Ron Cooper
This series won a Portfolio Award in the 2017 Art of Living Photography Show.