This is image #26 in my series of ‘Making of 40 Photographs’. Some people are enigmatic and I found many of the exiled Tibetan's in the Tinchuli region of Kathmandu to be exactly that.
Basing myself in this part of Kathmandu allowed me to venture down to the Bodnath stupa each morning. I got familiar with the Stupa and the congregation that gathered here each morning to pray. A few days would pass and I'd start to see familiar faces - not only did the prayer wheels spin round and round, but so to did the same congregation circumnavigate the great Stupa day after day too.
And I was there each morning - playing my part too - trying to capture some of these Tibetans during their prayer - and it wasn't easy.
I love reportage, although I feel my photographs aren't really in this vein, every now and then I do make something in that sort of line. In this photograph you can see an old lady with a green shawl. I followed her for perhaps an hour; the Tibetans are a canny lot - and will discreetly place you out of their sight and their minds. Not through wishful thinking did I choose to become invisible to them: they chose to disregard me in their morning pursuit and this was hard to take. I'm an open person and I love the interaction, the exchange and the feeling of being welcomed into the lives of strangers - if for a brief moment.
So I started to think of the Bodnath Stupa as a place to observe, to shoot from afar, which isn't my usual style at all - I prefer to get right into a scene with a standard lens and shoot from perhaps a few feet away.
But I think listening to your 'emotional intelligence' is paramount : the Tibetans didn't want to get involved with me, and I recognized and respected it. You really have to be more than just visually aware when making pictures. You have to understand and empathize with your subjects too.