I first traveled to Nepal in 2012. I was still mourning the sudden death of my father, and went on intuition. The country was an oasis of beauty and tranquility, and the moment I arrived I felt held. I hiked Nepal's mountains, photographed its historic sites, drank chai with locals, and went through cleansing rituals with holy men.
When a 7.9 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, and a powerful aftershock followed, I stood in shock and heartbreak, as did much of the world. My intuition again told me to return, and within days I was on a flight to Kathmandu.
Nothing could have prepared me for what awaited. The historic sites I once relished were rubble and dust, and death filled the air with a constant reminder of what once was. Astrologers preached that another quake was coming, this time one more destructive. I awoke several times at night to real and perceived aftershocks.
I began to understand the aftermath by slowly observing and connecting with my medium-format film camera. I documented still-lifes and made portraits while listening to people's stories. From the families who were once strangers now sharing a home under a small tent, to the Irishmen who survived the earthquake on Mount Everest and fundraised to personally distribute relief materials, I felt like I had a window into a kind of humanity that no one else knew about. It was still Nepal.
An Act of God
“Durga, Durga,” a woman repeated, as she pointed at the destruction of her village. Durga, the Hindu Goddess of creation, preservation, and annihilation, is widely worshipped among the Nepalese. Durga was a consistent theme in the way the Nepalese hypothesized what happened to their land and their people. Many believe it was an act of God.