Using Photography for Good
Words and photos by Dylan Goldby
“Myanmar, for me, is the dream land.”
Every once in a while, it pulls at my heart and tells me to return. The kindness of its peoples, the earnest way in which they live, the beautiful light, the fresh air and fresh fruit, the pace of life, the history. All of these things drag me back again and again.
During a recent trip, I first met the Hmäe Sün Näe Ti Cengkhü Nu, the tattoo-faced ladies of the Lai Tu Chin people. They welcomed me with open arms, as the peoples of Myanmar always do, and shared their stories with me. Tales of the pain of their tattoos, their love for their traditional culture, and of festivals in times passed. I began the discussion to return and work on a book then and there. They invited me to their national day celebration, and let me know when I would be able to attend one of their spirit festivals.
“When I returned this year, I was offered Yu, the traditional rice liquor, as a friendship bond, and given the opportunity to stay with their families as I moved from village to village.”
The ladies were extremely proud that someone was visiting their villages and creating a record of their stories. I was welcomed, and had more stories shared with me that ran deeper than I could have expected.
I photographed more than 100 tattoo-faced women during this trip, and using their stories, made photographs of their culture and traditions. These, along with the stories I heard, have become an exhibition and book about the Lai Tu Chin people.
The exhibition will be held in Seoul on June 20th, and the book will be crowd-funded to allow me to use it as a tool to give back to the Lai Tu Chin people. Profits from its sale will go towards providing clean drinking water and primary education for the Lai Tu Chin people.
Wesley Chang accompanied me on this trip, and made video of every aspect. We will also be showing that video at the exhibition. We hope that you will join us to hear more stories, see more images, and of course – help us to publish this book.