Spotlight on Galleries: The Mountain Kingdom

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2011.

I have recently created a final edit of images that I made during my two years of service under the United States Peace Corps. Serving in The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho from 2003-2005. During those years I carried a manual film camera in my shoulder bag in order to document my surroundings on a day-to-day basis. I travelled through all ten districts of Lesotho in my time there, but the bulk of my images were made within a few minutes walk of my home in the village of Ha Mohatlane.

Film was scarce, and the money to develop what rolls I could afford to buy, was even harder to come by. The result was a very methodical approach to photography, careful composition, favorable lighting, and very few consecutive frames from any single subject. Very different from how I approach subjects now. I worked strictly with prime lenses, a 28mm f2.8 and a 50mm f1.7, during those first years in Lesotho. No flash, No tripod…simple-straight documentary style street photography.

This collection of images includes portraiture, landscapes and the small details that caught my eye as I passed my days under the African sun!

I have posted links to the Galleries featuring both my Color Film Images and the Black & White Film Images.

Simply click on the links…and enjoy the photographs!

Reflecting on the End of a Decade, Final Hours, Future Projects.


Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

Scenes from the desert and oasis of Africa, reflection of past images, distant travels and future projects. Here to the adventures ahead! Happy New year from myself, rachel and the Fedora Photo Team…. Jeremy

Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

Timeless.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

I took this photo of my close friend, Booms, on a return trip to the Mountain Kingdom in 2007. Booms is a kind, generous and loyal individual. He first came to me seeking help with some reading assignments for school, after some time we would pass the evenings together pitching horseshoes outside of my small hut in the village of Ha Mohatlane, sharing quarts of pilsner and a few stories. Booms is the silent type.

Near the end of my two years in Lesotho, Booms took as much interest in my photography it seemed, as I did, and became the closest thing to a fixer as I have known. We would spend hours during the weekend, visiting distant friends and relatives of his in neighboring communities, seeking subject material to put in front of my lens. Inevitably- my spoken Sosotho would reach apparent limitations-Booms was also my interpreter. During the week, he would often stop in to relax, particularly when any of my American Expatriates happened into town for a few days. Booms and I were friends.

This photo is a record of an afternoon spent at the home of Eddy Lesenyehoe, cold beers in the African heat, the sound of children and stories. I was content to be home, content to be back on African soil. A moment that no longer exists outside of this image.

Lesotho: A Nation Looking Forward.



Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is on the road to progress. A road that is without a doubt going to be long and rocky. As with almost every developing country around the world there are growing pains. A difficult balance must be struck as any nation progresses; environment vs industry, traditions vs globalization, and tourism as an emerging economy. I have seen this in my travels across Africa and Latin America; East Germany was facing it’s own similar struggles just ten years ago but on a much different scale.

The images above are representative of Lesotho in many ways. The Spiral Aloe; Lesotho’s national plant is sacred to many and sought after by those who might turn a few dollars at the market. Protection is in place but rarely regulated. The plant is one of natures certain wonders; a cactus of rare beauty.

The second image of Peace Corps volunteers washing away their own worries at Malealea Falls is a key representation of tourism and the possibilities associated with this recently introduced economy. The lodge that serves to bring tourism to this remote area is run by white settlers who have made the Mountain Kingdom their home and employee Basotho as caretakers of the guest ranch. Young and old gain profit from working as guides, stable hands, cooks and musicians. The country is brimming with untapped opportunities for tourism. If implemented correctly this would create an income for even some of the most remote communities in years to come.

The third photograph is indicative of two things, often intertwined. Small business and sustainability. A solar cooker, in this case a bread cooker, is being polished by its proprietor at a trade school. Although an expensive purchase for many, in a country of little per capita, this invention can generate enough bread in a single morning to support a small family, and if used consistently it can also drastically reduced the carbon footprint in a country with fuel scarcity and abundant sunshine.

I hope that my thoughts in this post are readable. I hope to return to Lesotho in the near future in an effort to make images that go beyond culture and portraiture; imagery that can be published around the globe creating a certain impact to its viewers. Creating positive change through imagery. I hope to bring awareness to those outside of the small Mountain Kingdom in an effort to create hope and a better future for those whose livelihoods are tied to the fate of a nation.

To learn how to help the Basotho people please visit Friends of Lesotho.org

As photographers and journalist, we are all aware that imagery has helped to create change in recent history-perhaps now more than ever. Take a moment to give me your thoughts. Can we directly better the lives or environments of those we photograph through pictures? ….and if so how?

Feel free to share your thoughts, your projects! Have a great weekend.

Kind regards, Jeremy

The Coffin Trade.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010. All Rights Reserved.

The Coffin Trade, or so it seems. All across Lesotho woodworkers had a surplus spilling out of doorways. It was reminiscent of the wild west, only the population was no longer dying as a result of gunfights, but rather disease. Tuberculosis has closer ties to the frontier, and many of the fatalities caused by HIV/AIDS take that form. But with the immune system weakened, the final blow might be as inconspicuous as the common flu.

The business surrounding funeral arrangements become one of the only growth sectors of the economy, in the small Kingdom of Lesotho, at the time of my Peace Corps service. Large tents were rented and erected throughout the country side each weekend in preparation for individual funerals. In long standing Basotho tradition, the blood of a cow was spilled for feasting, often an expensive, even ornate coffin would be purchased to honor the deceased . The income of a family was easily depleted by the large and often unexpected funeral procession.

Is it even possible that there could be an upside for the Basotho who are suffering such a devastating pandemic? If so, perhaps it is the livelihoods that are created at a grass roots level in the wake of such misery. These woodworkers had turned their skills to the coffin trade in the market town of Mafeteng, where I photographed them in the spring of 2007. In a country where trades are few, most opportunities are welcome.