Worldwide Photographic Journeys

Sichuan in Monochrome

27th May 2020

by Inger Vandyke

In 2018 Wild Images leader Inger Vandyke guided our first reconnaissance tour to Eastern Tibet and Sichuan.  A culmination of over two years of planning, this journey followed a part of China’s ancient Tea Horse Route, the traditional trading route for the trade of Tibetan ponies for Chinese tea, a practice dating back at least to the Song Dynasty, when the sturdy horses were important for China to fight warring nomads in the north.  The tour was a fascinating overland journey from Chengdu in western China to Lhasa in Xizang, central Tibet.  It crossed the spectacular Kunlun Mountains, skirted the edge of the Gobi desert and crossed vast expanses of the Tibetan Plateau.

Joining her were two hardy, experienced travel photographers who witnessed mass gatherings of nuns and monks in Buddhist religious centres; attended numerous monk debating sessions; visited the camps of nomadic caterpillar fungus harvesters; watched the traditional ancient pressing of Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts and explored ancient, deserted temples along this remote region of western China.

One of them was award winning photographer Kristyn Taylor from Australia.  Kristyn is a life-long traveller, with a love of remote destinations, local people and their unique culture. She loves nothing better than venturing into the unknown with a local guide and her camera, immersing herself in the experience by staying with locals to better get to know them and their customs. She is self taught in the arts and has been  exhibited widely as a life-size figurative ceramic sculptor, with her work focusing on contemporary social issues. Kristyn also paints and she believes her endeavours in these fields have greatly informed her photography. 

While the event of Covid19 has placed a lot of travel on hold for our team and our guests, we’ve been thrilled to see some of our guests editing their images from tours with us and recently we discovered Kristyn’s series of black and white photographs from Sichuan.  Watching these unfold on her social media channels (Instagram @kristyn_taylor.  Facebook @Kristyn Taylor Photography) has been an enthralling journey for us.  In these images, Kristyn not only explored the personalities of the people we met on their trip but she truly captured the essence of their shared relationships through her own shared experiences with them.  From the lined, charismatic faces of elderly nuns to the smiles of monks meeting for worship, Kristyn’s images embody the spirit of Sichuan in all of its simple and warm beauty.

We invite you to share Kristyn’s journey through her beautiful work.

A young nun in a quiet, reflective moment of prayer (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

Profile of a nun at the giant nunnery of Yarchen Gar in Sichuan (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

A face that tells a thousand stories (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

Smiles and handshakes as monks meet each other inside the gargantuan monastery of Yarchen Gar in Sichuan (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

A contemplative moment (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

The simple beauty of Buddhist nuns of the Gelugpa sect in Tibetan Buddhism (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

The beautiful smile of a Tibetan Buddhist nun in the stunning nunnery of Tagong, Sichuan (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

A smiling buddhist pilgrim on the prayer circuit in Yarchen Gar (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

Two nuns prepare to enter prayers by removing their shoes (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

A beautiful use of framing! Portrait of a buddhist nun in a gathering of nuns at Sichuan (Image by Kristyn Taylor)

We feel this series encapsulates the spirit, beauty and strength of Sichuan Tibetans in their pursuit of their faith across the region.

During lockdown Kristyn has been exploring studio photography from her home in Sydney where she has been expanding her capabilities in portrait photography.

We hope she continues to reveal the beauty of her travels with us through her images!!!

Inger Vandyke

Australian professional wildlife photojournalist and expedition leader Inger Vandyke now lives in the Forest of Bowland in northern England with her partner and fellow Wild Images photographer Mark Beaman. Inger has a long-established photographic career publishing images and stories in over 30 publications worldwide.