Since visiting Laos a couple of years ago I’ve been on the lookout for a good photobook of the country but the few that I had discovered were mostly aimed at tourists looking for pictures of the country’s best known sites. It was only a couple of months ago that I came across Songs of Lao from Nazraeli Press. The book was published in 2016 but for some reason I had never seen it until recently.
Songs of Lao was published in association with Friends Without a Border, a children’s medical charity founded by Japanese photographer Kenro Izu. Izu set up the charity after witnessing the suffering of children during photographic trips to Angkor in Cambodia in the mid 1990’s. Working with the wider photographic community and beyond Izu’s organisation was able to open the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap in 1999. As well as providing an extensive range of medical services the hospital also worked with local health care providers to improve the overall standard of both administration and care in the region.
More recently, in 2015, the Laos Friends Hospital for Children opened in Luang Prabang with the same ambition to provide treatment for children, education and support for local healthcare workers and prevention through outreach programmes into the wider community. This book was published to mark that new phase in the work and to raise awareness and support for Friends Without a Border. The book itself is beautifully produced as you would expect from Nazraeli Press and is made up of pictures from six different photographers, including Izu, who have worked in Laos. Each contributor also has a short biographical piece explaining his or her connection with the country. While the different photographers bring different styles to the project all the contributions are consistently excellent. In addition to the photographs the book also provides a lot of information on Izu’s charity and its work in Laos and Cambodia.
The book is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK and all profits go to support the Lao Friends Hospital. Here are some sample images: the first two from Izu himself and the second pair from Michael Kenna.