Shambala, in Buddhist lore is thought of as a place of peace and tranquility located somewhere in Inner Asia. Tradition describes it as a kingdom whose reality is as spiritual as much as physical or geographic. I grew up in a house filled with statues of Buddhas, which my mother collected as art objects. It made me curious about Buddhism. I wanted to visit a place where people made commitment to their beliefs the most important value in their lives.

Leaving behind the modern world where continuous advertising to participate in material consumption is ubiquitous, I travelled to the Tibetan town of Xiahe in western China as well as the Buddhist country of Bhutan. There, I found people whose lives were framed by their devotion. Everywhere I looked were symbols, which served as touchstones to keep their beliefs ever present. I met families walking the countryside, on a pilgrimage with a portable altar. I saw Buddhist stupas and prayer flags dotting the countryside. I, also encountered people who spoke prayers as they walked clock-wise around and around sacred buildings. I used a plastic camera to capture the ineffable world that feels so timeless yet is changing ever so slowly.

boy lighting yak lights

Preparing Yak Butter Candles
from the series Shambala