Tibet girl, a nomadic girl I photographed in Kham, eastern Tibet, has become one of my most iconic images. Her photo was published in the National Geographic magazine and later even made the magazine cover celebrating 125 years of National Geographic. Most recently her photo was chosen as the cover of Taschen’s book “Around the World in 125 Years with National Geographic.” She even made the cover of my book, “Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit.”
The photo of Tibet girl was featured at the opening my recent photo exhibition at the Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach where my print sales are represented. She was prominently displayed at the National Geographic show at the Annenberg.
I have traveled to Tibet nearly every year for the last twenty years. On this trip I was driving in the remote eastern region of the Tibetan Plateau when I saw this young nomad girl, part of a crowd returning from a horse festival. It was pouring rain, so I brought her to a nearby school to take her photograph She was so small that the light from the window barely reached her; I had to stand her on a desk. Even at the age of four, she had a face that seemed to express the underlying sadness of a culture that has been so challenged. Yet she had a look of resilience and tenacity well beyond her years. I made this photo on film and didn’t even see it until nearly three months after I shot it. Still, I felt like I had captured something in that moment.