Living on the Edge

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The individuals I photograph on my travels don’t benefit from my presence, not in an immediate sense anyway. In fact, there’s potential for harm to them if I damage their landscape or use my images inappropriately.  So I walk that edge of privilege and responsibility in observing the lives of people from different cultures. Rice farmers in the mountainous regions of north Vietnam walk edges in a different sense. In fact they Live on the Edge – in a literal sense and with their subsistence lifestyle.

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Flower Hmong ladies at the Sunday market.

It is said that the goal of every Vietnamese farmer is to purchase a buffalo; find a wife and build a house … in that order

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A precarious existence on the edge of the terraces.

Rice constitutes about 3/4 of the daily calorie intake in the Vietnamese diet and it takes 3 months to grow a crop. Seedlings are gathered in bunches and transplanted in rows into prepared fields. Men and water buffalo work hard to carve steps into every available space on steep slopes.

1-6.jpgThe rice takes two months more to mature and is ready to harvest when the field is yellow.

1-17.jpgIn recent years there has been a move to diversify farming to include corn and other crops.

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Selecting soy seed at the market

Now when I eat a bowl of rice, I have much more respect for its origins and the human hands that have worked to grow it in every inch of what seems to me to be inhospitable land.

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