Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Eleven monks


I don’t know what exactly makes Buddhist monks such compelling subjects for portrait photographs. I think maybe it’s something to do with how their shaved heads seem like an attempt to deny them their individuality, but their orange robes demand that you look at them.











10 Responses to “Eleven monks”

  1. The Wanderlust Gene

    Ummm … I’ve often thought it has something to do with their being in the moment – if they agree to a photograph, that’s what they do, without artifice or false modesty – they’re right there – as these terrific photos attest. 🙂

  2. Carissa

    Excellent work. I find their faces compelling. As I understand it, many are sent to the monastery as young boys. I cannot imagine my life’s destiny chosen for me, let alone at such a tender age. Perhaps that’s what I find so intriguing in their faces.

    • Jon Sanwell

      Thanks, Carissa. It’s true that many boys go into a monastery at a very young age, but it’s not a life-long commitment. I think most – or at least a great many – Lao boys spend some time in a monastery, but most go back to regular life afterwards.

  3. themodernidiot

    i’m curious to know what ‘here danger’ means in the first photograph. great capture of visual irony.

  4. kieuka

    Your portraits are really impressive! I love all of them. How can you capture those moments when people express their soul so deeply?!

  5. Andrew

    Are these shot with a ‘lux, Jon? Some have a really creamy Leica look to them. Gorgeous.

    • Jon Sanwell

      Thanks, Andrew. No, these pictures were all taken with my old Canon 5D. I can only dream of owning a Leica.

  6. bodhisattvaintraining

    I believe in some countries it’s a financial decision for the family – in the monastery they will be fed and have a classical education – might stay, might not


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