Andrew Stanbridge in Mong La
March 15, 2013
One of the great things about being a photographer is that you can take your audience to the most remote and bizarre lands with your images. In this case, Andrew Stanbridge is the pilot, navigator and guide to one of the weirdest places I’ve ever seen. “In the remote mountains of the Burma–China border in an area infamously known as the Golden Triangle (home of drug lords, rebel armies and various ethnic minority groups), lies the town of Mong La,” explains Stanbridge. “It’s an unlikely Las Vegas of disheveled discos, hotels and casinos that are now mostly shuttered up and slowly molding away in the humidity of the jungle that they were born in. Chinese businessmen still come in small numbers across the border, mostly to purchase rare and endangered animals, bones, skin and the like to make into their sexual serums.”
It’s quite a challenge to shoot color at night under a variety of artificial light sources without making the images only about the colors. For Stanbridge this is not an issue. He is able to make beautiful and revealing photographs in this sad, weary and bedraggled environment. In a powerful editorial style, he pulls no punches and leaves nothing to the imagination. We see the open market of animals and people alike, available to anyone with the money and the inclination. From brothel bedrooms to small gambling establishments, Stanbridge’s photos are coarse and authentic. We need talented and genuine photographers willing to go to the ends of the earth to bear witness to and bring back evidence of the human condition. Andrew Stanbridge is just such a photographer.
David J. Carol is the director of photography at CBS Outdoor. His photographs and award-winning photography books are in the collections of major museums and institutions throughout the United States. Contact him at David@davidcarol.com or go to his website: www.davidcarol.com.