Multimedia: The Prophet gave us a way.

My intent in this post is to foster peace and understanding. This post today expresses the views of one man, who is in the minority in his town. He is a Muslim man named Faisal, and he is a minority in Buddhist Ladakh.

Many of my readers know that I am a member of a professional guild that is all about about peace. It’s called, the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers. It exists to help combat the misinformation, prejudice and ethnocentrism that exists in the world today, with the goal of bringing cultures closer together with a better understanding of each other.

This short, three-minute photographic essay developed into what is here almost without my control. I went into the mosque at Leh, Ladakh actually not knowing what I would be taking a photo of. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I would be allowed to take pictures within the mosque. In seconds of arriving Faisal, the young man who is featured in this photo essay approaches me and started to befriend me. He was eager to tell me about his faith and his people. I wanted to focus more on the actual mosque itself, but Faisal had my attention. He was a energetic young man that felt his faith was being misunderstood by most of us in the West.

This is not the most important photo essay I’ve ever done. It’s not one of the more dramatic ones. It’s just one that just seemed to developed, and if it helps to humanize and de-vilify my Muslim friends to the Western world, then great.

If you are a Muslim and you view this and you find it in error or misleading I apologize. As I said, it just sort of evolved over time and I’m not projecting myself to be an expert on Islam. These are simply the words from my new friend Faisal.

On a more technical note. I opted to show the captions, but some are quite long for the speed slide show. You can always go back and read them by clicking the gallery view button (the four small squares) on the control bar. You can also view each photo individually by clicking the left or right arrow buttons also on the control bar.

I hope you enjoy it.

About Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer.

In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

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21 thoughts on “Multimedia: The Prophet gave us a way.

  1. I love your slideshows, Matt. They are always so thoughtfully put together and open a window to new understandings. I especially love that you did this one in black and white.

    • Thanks Sabrina. I went with B&W of this for a couple of reasons. First, I felt B&W seemed to give it more of an intimate feel, for whatever reason. The second was it was pretty colorless, and keeping the color did nothing to add to the story or feel of the place.

  2. I just got back from Ladakh myself two months ago, and was in Leh. This photo essay is like an Intro to Islam 101 – which even for me, an Indian (Catholic) is an education – since I have never ventured into a mosque at prayer time. This was lovely.

    I was in Leh during the deluge in August.

  3. Beautiful Matt. A nice piece on a religion that is a minority in that situation. I wonder how they are seen by the Buddists and how the integration is. On first thought I would think it would be more peaceful than other parts of the world, is that the case?

  4. excellent – you don’t get this kind of intimacy from a ‘drive-though’ photography. Well done matt.

    • Good point Peter. You cannot rush in and expect intimacy. I could make an off-color analogy here but I think I will stop short and leave it at that. 😉

  5. Matt,

    I think this is an example of ‘the new photojournalism’ at its best, or if not that, very close to it, at least. It reminds me in both approach and quality of the award winning One in Eight Million and underlines for me my own understanding of my photographic raison d’etre as visual storytelling. This is what excites me. Having said that, I noticed the second time through that the individual photographs do stand very well on their own as well. A great piece of work.

    I’ve watched it a couple of times (my temporary bandwidth restrictions here in the UK will probably keep it that way) and I have gained a little bit more information and depth about Islam as well as the insights into storytelling and photography.

    Keep them coming. I think this could be another Digital Trekker ‘signature’ alongside Depth of Field.

  6. Really nice photo essay, it really gives you a feel for the minority culture and a glimpse into their way of life. Nicely shot and well documented. I’m planning on heading up in that region next month. Can’t wait :-)But I have to be brutally honest and say that the shot of the kid praying really disturbs me. Yes it portrays the nurturing of a new generation, the importance of family values, father and son, the passing of knowledge and more, but it stirs strong emotions within me. Richard Dawkins said “there is no such thing as a Christian child: only a child of Christian parents.” and I couldn’t agree more. Any photograph, by anyone, of a child raised into any religion is disturbing. Plenty of children are given the opportunity of a better life, or better education thanks to local mosques, churches, or monasteries and that these places are vital in sustaining the local community. I just wish kids had the opportunity to opt in or out, or choose their own religion if they wanted to. Maybe the child in the photograph did get to choose, but I doubt it. I think most children around the world are ‘brainwashed’ into religion and that is wrong.I’ve been living and travelling in Asia for more than ten years now and know that it’s something that I with my Western logic have to get used to and understand.

    (Deep breath) Rant over. Sorry.

    • Sean, first let me say it is nice to have you as a reader. I am not a fan (to understate it) of Richard Dawkins and his militant atheism. That quote has got to be one of the silliest quotes I have heard. Are you a parent? It is the duty and in fact I would go so far to say almost and instinct of every parent to instill values that are important in their children. Whether you are a person of faith or an atheist you will do the same. This is not the forum to debate faith, as tempting as it is.

      I will say you are in for a very disturbing time in Ladakh, if children practicing faith bothers you. The place is crawling with child monks running around with their little shaved heads and red robes on. Without photos of these children or any children practicing their or their parents faith I think you will have an incomplete picture of the society.

      • I thought twice about posting my original post because I knew it would be a hot topic and I’m not really into internet debates. But it was a reaction to one of the photos so I thought I might as well. Anything related to Dawkins in a hot topic. I should know better 🙂

        “I will say you are in for a very disturbing time in Ladakh, if children practicing faith bothers you. The place is crawling with child monks running around with their little shaved heads and red robes on.”

        That’s exactly why I’m going 🙂 It’s completely contradictory, I know. Kids practicing faith of any kind really does disturb me, but I love the mishmash of cultures and religion in India and how central they are to life. Not photographing children practicing a faith would, like you said, result in an incomplete picture of the society. But I guess that’s where photojournalism comes in. Good, honest, and factual photo documentaries. I’m not sure I want to photograph kids practicing faith but I’ll decide when I get there.

        This will be my fifth trip to India and I’ve seen kids all over the place practicing religion. But like I said, it’s something I’ve got to get used to and learn to understand.

  7. Great, Matt. Having been there and having seen how you laid the foundations of this (by respectfully taking pictures and recording sound snippets) was already an eye-opener. Seeing the finalized version is even more compelling. I like the B&W treatment (not much of a surprise, there I guess 🙂 ) because it ties everything together.

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