Good fences

This image has a couple of inspirations – Happy Daze commented on my post the other day that good fences make good neighbours. Which got me thinking about good fences and good neighbours… I took this photo on a trip to the south Pacific islands late last year – it was taken in Lifou, which is part of the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia and is owned by France. Though not taken on the same trip, I had a similar sort of reaction as I did to the land divers on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu a couple of years prior – feeling suddenly demoted from traveller/visitor to gawking tourist.

It was a scorching hot day, and there the dancers were, performing under the blinding, blazing sun. Except for a few who were deliberately working the audience, they didn’t make eye contact, didn’t connect with us. The photos were terrible – glare, high contrast, no real depth… Not that the show was unpleasant to watch, it just felt like a performance not connected to anything. After, we went for a wander through the village and surrounds, moving very slowly in the monstrous heat.

We came upon this dancer again, still in costume, animatedly talking on his cellphone. (And why shouldn’t he? I had my cellphone with me…) THAT would have been the photo to take, but it would also have been completely inappropriate, so I refrained.

I hate the phrase ‘developing country’ especially since it is often applied to cultures older than our own. 3rd world is right out. Even more, I hate the idea that any culture would be considered developing as they move away from their traditions to adopting western ways. But… the idea of ‘protecting’ them from outside interference is paternalistic, rather insulting. Seems to me this is a good case for good fences. Hopefully built cooperatively.

Oh, and the other inspiration for this photo came from a blast from the past that zoomed my way this week – from back in the Dorloo days. Her family lived down the road from mine. She also grew up to be a photographer and artist and has taken some wonderful shots of native American dancers. (

They sparked me to think about my images, which I never did anything with because technically, they were a bit crap… but technique is only part of the story – sometimes a very small part of the story. And I like this photo because it reminds me of this young man, and how he has feet in two worlds…

Published by Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

6 thoughts on “Good fences

  1. What a nice surprise to find you may have been inspired by my comment to share this photo. Thank YOU, Titirangi~! Still I marvel at the hours you spend behind the lens and then at the computer to create these amazing images. You are changing how I see my world too 🙂


    1. I think we never really know how we touch other people, what small thing we say or do strikes a note or a nerve and provokes thoughts or actions… Me – I much prefer creating ripples than making waves… 😉

      I too marvel at the hours – and how no matter how many I spend doing it – it never becomes dull – I have the patience to spend untold hours on it… if only I had 10% of that to give to my laundry…


  2. I know that you’ve commented before on feeling intrusive when taking certain photos, and feeling a bit exploited when taking others. You’re spot on regarding the term “developing countries.” They don’t have all of the electronic accoutrements, so they’re developing? Not necessarily so.


    1. I do realise it is completely unrealistic to expect to slip under the radar wherever I go, but I think I try to. I am always envious of those travel photographers who capture the most intimate moments of their ancient culture subjects with perfect lighting… I know they have to be set up… and yet, there is still an element of intimacy and trust established with the photographer, so it is more than ‘snapshot’ of them being who they are, but capturing that essence. And that’s what frustrates me, when there are barriers to creating any sense of intimacy at all…


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