I’m not an indecisive kinda guy. I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em and then move on. Even my creative side seldom spends much time in debate; life is too short, there’s too much to do, to see, to experience. Occasionally though, making a decision is problematic, especially when there are just too many options to choose from. Sometimes that means instead of picking one from column A and one from column B, you just have to say the hell with it and order the entire damn menu.
My primary camera has a built in motor drive. Hold the shutter release down and it’ll just keep snapping away. It’s a machine gun approach to photography, but sounds real cool so I make use of that feature a lot. Which normally means later when culling through a day’s booty of shots, I have multiple photos of the same subject, each slightly different. Picking the keeper is usually not a difficult decision.
But a late evening visit to one of the wats in Luang Prabang caused my decision making process to jam up. Too many shots I liked to choose from. It wasn’t just the result of machine gun photography; the subject – broadly – remained the same, and I revisited the same spot half a dozen times that night. Each time the scene got better. Or at least different. I’d been hunting monks and the overabundance of novices at the wat turned the hunt into more of a case of scumming for monks than hunting them.
But that seemed apropos; the entire visit was about multiples. We discovered the wat while sauntering down Sisavangvong Road with no particular destination in mind. Sisavangvong Road is the main boulevard in Luang Prabang’s historic district. With nary a bend in the street, it becomes Sakkarine Road on one end of town, and Chao Fa Ngum on the other. We’d started walking along Chao Fa Ngum Road without even knowing we’d not changed streets.
Across the street we spotted a set of stairs (big surprise) leading up to a wat. There were two monks hanging out at the top, just in case we needed any more reason to go take a look. At the top of the stairs the bot of Wat Hosian Voravihane glimmered in the setting sun to our right. To the left was the monks’ residence. Right or left counts as a decision, though a minor one, but the ‘multiple’ part comes in to play in that by turning right you walk through Wat Hosian’s complex and then, much like with Sisavangvong Road below, with no marking, physical or natural, to alert you to a change you find yourself all of a sudden at Wat That. Which, as long as we are doing the multiple thingy is also called Wat Phra Mahathat.
Multiple streets and multiple wats of multiple names – and needless to say, multiple sets of stairways – has nothing to do with today’s Monk Shot! except as a flimsy excuse to post multiple photos of the same scene. Since the majority of people upon entering any room, building, or area, move to the right, when we reached the top of the stairs leading up to Wat Hosian, we went left. A white stucco building, one of the residences for monks, immediately caught my eye. The play of shadows and light thanks to the setting sun was enough reason for me to raise my camera to eye level, multiple hanging saffron robes matched in color by the trim on the building was an added bonus. A Monk Shot! of monks’ robes is almost as good as a Monk Shot! of actual monks.
A perfect, photogenic setting, and before I could click off a dozen or so shots, a novice monk wandered into the scene. And then another. And another. My camera’s motor drive was smoking. An orgiastic feast of monks that my friend was not quite as enamored with; impatient, he pulled me away and we wandered off to see the rest of the wat(s). Fortunately for me, I count each little setting within a wat as a separate tableau or I’d have an even more difficult time in deciding which shots to keep. Between the two wats there were more than a dozen really cool Monk Shots! waiting to be recorded. But I kept finding an excuse to wander back to the monk house, and each time I did there were more monks hanging around and more Monk Shots! to be taken.
Just for the record, I could pick out just one of these to represent the visit. Through a process of elimination, I could allow my decisive nature to rule the day. Even then, at this setting of multiple wats I’d blow my entire wad of allowable photos in accordance with that bastard in Penang who seared his 7 Shot Rule into my consciousness. So out of spite, I’m sharing several shots of the exact same scene today. I decided that was a better route to take than to publish multiple posts about the multiple Monk Shots! at the multiple wats of multiple names on multiple streets.