Spotlight on Galleries: Return to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2011.

Returning to Lesotho in 2007 as a freelance photographer working on an assignment for Worldview Magazine, I had just under five weeks to cover several parts of South Africa and revisit the Mountain Kingdom. These select images are all taken using a Nikon digital SLR and a much looser photographic approach than my previous work there – limited only by time and the 100 GB backup drives which I had purchased for the assignment.

There are two galleries dedicated to this collection…enjoy the images!

Mountain Kingdom III and the corresponding gallery Mountain Kingdom IV.

Cheers, Jeremy

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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!

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.

On Assignment.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

In 2007 I returned to The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, working on an assignment for Worldview Magazine as a freelance photographer, writer and ex-Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Lesotho. The images posted here are taken almost simultaneously.

Not very often is the photojournalist put behind the lens, but my traveling companion, a young Israeli woman named Tamar Banai captured the moment as I worked the camera around a card game.

We were photographing condom distribution in the highlands of Lesotho, when I chanced upon this group of young guys gambling outside of a small shop, which happened to be a distribution point for Trust Brand condoms. And so each story unravels spontaneously!

Enjoy the images! Cheers, Jeremy

Photo Credit: Tamar Banai

PhotoShelter: Lesotho Photo Archive Launched.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

In conjunction with publishing the Mountain Kingdom photo essay as part of IMPACT: An Online Exhibition, I was able to sort and edit film images from over two years spent living and working amongst the Basotho people. The photographs uploaded thus far are taken from my film/slide archive and have largely been unseen, unpublished before now.

In time I will expand the archive to include digital images from a return trip to Lesotho in 2007.

Please take a moment to visit the PhotoShelter gallery titled LESOTHO right HERE.

Enjoy the photographs….Jeremy

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.