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William Widmer May 11, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in India.
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Rupshu Valley, Ladakh, India

William Widmer (b. 1982, USA) is a freelance photographer based in San Francisco, California. He studied sociology and anthropology at Cornell College and earned an MFA in documentary photography from the Academy of Art in San Francisco (2007). He is interested in shifting concepts of community, and much of his work focuses on transient or marginalized populations around the world. He is currently working on a long term project about development and change in the landscape of the American Midwest. His work appears in editorial and news publications within the US and Europe, including Brand Eins (DE), nzz folio (CH), PLANETº (USA), Sonntagzeitung (CH), and Financial Times Deutschland (DE). He recently joined Getty’s Global Assignment roster.

About the Photograph:

“Ring Tsing Chuong nears the end of a 160-mile journey that he makes several times each year to visit his family in the Rupshu Valley, a Himalayan plain averaging over 14,000 ft.  A member of the small Changpa community in Ladakh, Chuong has just returned from the capital city of Leh where he works in the flourishing construction industry.  In recent years, the Changpa and other regional nomadic groups have seen their populations dwindle as Ladakh adjusts to a tourism boom that has been dramatically altering the area’s economic landscape for the last two decades, spurring more nomads to leave the plains and venture into Leh.  In fact, most nomadic groups in Ladakh these days largely comprise elders and young children.  The able-bodied members have left and now return only semi-annually to visit loved ones and deliver what staple goods they can afford to bring along.  Imported commodities such as propane, rice, alcohol, and motorized vehicles have replaced the local resources that were used for centuries in their place and create new dependencies for Ladakh’s oldest inhabitants.  The fine balance that life in Ladakh requires is being tested, and the modernization India has brought to the region is failing those who preceded it.”

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