Ongoing series, Girls on Trains. Japan.
©2014 Brenden Allen
Revisiting Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture. Almost the entire town was destroyed following the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, that triggered a giant Tsunami. Three years on the town and people are still rebuilding their lives.
©2014 Brenden Allen
Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
©2014 Brenden Allen
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
©2014 Brenden Allen
Barry Smith, Australian motorcycle racing legend, Isle of Man TT and Grand Prix champion. Holder of over 150 Australian and world endurance racing records that stood for over 20 years and that truly is only scratching the surface of his achievements in the sport. A true gentleman and at 74 years of ages, speaks of his exploits on the worlds circuits like a man half his age. The glint in his eye as he remembers battles with Nieto, kicking tyres out from beneath riders (though that was “not his style”) and being offered incentives to allow Spanish team-riders to beat him on Spanish racing team Derbi in the quest for a local champion.
It was such an honour to meet and photograph him.
Barry Smith portrait © 2014 Brenden Allen
Other images copied from Barry’s own collection.
Story shot for Australian Motorcycling News.
A chance meeting with a 1927 AJS atop Mt Glorious.
Named "Emily" after the owners unexpected grand daughter, his daughter was apparently unable to have children. He made a classy, smoky arrival to Maiala Teashop, not sure until that point if his old steed would make it up the mountain on his maiden effort. Given it’s namesake, hardly surprising that it did.
(shot on Iphone)
Puerto Lopez is a small fishing village in southern Ecuador that is also a popular whale watching destination. Humpback whales mate off the nearby islands from June to October. Large sea birds - pelicans and giant frigates, keep fishermen on their toes landing the morning’s catch on the beach.
© 2010 Brenden Allen
How do you tell a story that affected you to your core? How do you describe a mother’s wailing and village’s pain as they lost another baby?
Its been a while since I have been to Burma, India or the border areas and this post has sat privately and hidden here since. Only now have I been able to put some kind of perspective to the grief I felt on a small scale for the family and on a larger scale for the situation in the region. I found it hard to manage my own grief too, but while I’d like to say this isn’t about me, it very much is and has been because it wont go away from my thoughts and I haven’t felt this baby died for any good reason at all as I once may have scavenged for as a witness to something hidden - her passing hasn’t educated people on the problems of insane levels of infant mortality in the region, babies shouldn’t die of curable disease by western standards and governments shouldn’t contribute to this death and sadness in such a way that I know Burma did which makes it so much more frustrating.
I have always wished that someone with more journalistic chops were able to witness and yell a little louder from the rooftops, that which I saw.
I held Biakmankimi’s hand as she passed away and I was asked by the family to return and take some photos as they prepared to say goodbye.
I want to let this story go. I want it to be read. I’ve never known how or where to convey, but time clears thoughts and I might start here.
I was out of my depth in a tiny village on the India/Burma border. I was asked to document medical training of local community health workers, funded by a private foreign donor (who has become a good friend) who had built an amazing but rudimentary facility to assist where the Burmese government had failed it’s people for fifty or so years. An area so remote it took me and a young British doctor two days of mountain hugging goat track roads to access.
This village was a convenient trade route for legal and illegal trade between India’s northeast and Burma.
In India’s Mizoram State, but only a stone’s throw from Burma’s most remote and poorest state - that of the Chin minority where an arbitrary border created by the British Empire turned these hill tribe people into the Burmese Chin and the Indian Mizo during British occupation. Corrupt governments on both sides continued to oppress behind a curtain of isolation.
I was denied entry to India on my second trip here. The story runs deep but this is another reality of the isolation and control these governments have over what is known and what is done under their watch.
This access was the only way foreign eyes could witness and hope to assist and in my case, document Chin suffering and help show the story of the people’s suffering at the hand of their own dictator lead military government and hope to procure some small, private, independent foreign aid to keep this little operation going. The world was cut off and the people had no voice and still are muted by geographical isolation.
This little operation was so small because any waves made by way of fundraising efforts or reports would compromise those being assisted. This doesn’t matter now as the village was burnt to the ground and those Chin living were sent back or escaped further into India.
Biakmankimi died from pneumonia complications, to the best of my knowledge - of course no autopsies are done. She was barely alive when we arrived in this border village and was dead within a couple of hours of us being there. While the young English doctor and villagers frantically tried to save her, i was assigned to lean on her tiny chest and then to hand pump oxygen into her lungs. My final interaction with Kimi was to offer my little finger which she weakly grasped while her body was being probed with needles to try and connect an intravenous drip - all of the needles on hand were too big for her tiny body - the local staff were never meant nor trained to do this kind of work. She died not long after.
Another baby, Biakmankimi’s cousin was also found very ill the next day and with the support of the community health workers and the visiting doctor, was taken with her mother and village health worker on a day long journey for further help. She survived.
The village in question suffered it’s political fate recently. Burnt down. Many of the villagers were illegal Chin living in India. The villagers were forced to live under tarps on the border river as they regrouped. Many went back to Burma, others set off further into India.
I like to think that things are changing in the region as I am fed the news from afar and I am not so immersed in what is happening there anymore as I was for many years. I know that not much has really come from the death of Biakmankimi aside from perhaps my own understanding of the frailty of life and that people, babies, die there all the time from harsh environments and state neglect and from things they shouldn’t. I couldn’t tell her story anywhere that may have helped those coming after and among the clusterfuck that this area was then, I’ve doubted much could change. I hope she is resting in peace and I will carry her memory forever.
Solace in the City - ongoing project
Largely populated cities the world over seem to have a central place where people can go to escape.
Left: The Maidan. Kolkata, India
Right: Yoyogi Park. Tokyo, Japan
© 2012 Brenden Allen
Mosaics of images made using an Holga during a year in South America. A film camera first made in Hong Kong in 1981. Lo-fi results from light leaks, poor quality plastic component and lens, on medium format (120) film long past it’s expiry date and subject to numerous extreme temperature fluctuations and airport scanners with varying levels of radiation. The hipsters have gotten hold of them these days but I was fortunate to have bought mine over ten years ago to avoid the increased demand price tag for a princely $2.99 inc postage.
This is stripped back - compose, shoot and think of nothing else kind of photography. Perfect for cruising around South America with little thought of technique to crowd the head space.
Top: Bolivian altiplano and the salt flats of Uyuni
Middle: Southern Ecuadorian coast.
Bottom: La Paz, Bolivia
© 2010 Brenden Allen
Aquaculture New Zealand
It has been my pleasure to travel to Nelson in New Zealand for the last three years for Aquaculture New Zealand.
Top left: Andrew West. Vice-Chancellor Lincoln University, Christchurch.
Top right: The Right Honourable Jim Bolger. Former New Zealand Prime Minister.
2nd Top left: Andrew Forsyth. Former Frontera CEO
2nd Top right: Nicola Bell. CEO Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand.
Middle: A selection of New Zealand’s Aquaculture products.
Bill James. Executive Chef at The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson.
Bottom: King Salmon farm on Marlborough Sound.
The Venice of Peru
Belen is a small village adjoining Iquitos on the Itaya River in the Peruvian Amazon - a place only accessible by air and via the mighty Amazon River toward the Brazilian border.
Much of lower Belen exists as floating houses or on high stilts to cope with the river’s huge level fluctuations during rainy season, which completely inundates low lying areas by some 5-6 metres.
Most residents are in abject poverty with no access to clean water, sanitation or power and rely on various river trade to make a living, such as these men who are transporting plantains (banana-like staple of the region).
© 2010 Brenden Allen
A small food station feeding Burmese workers on the Mae Pa rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Illegal migrant workers having fled Burma collect rubbish, mostly plastic for the nearby recycling plant. Workers also have makeshift homes atop the piles of rubbish. Numbers vary from time to time as random Thai police raids tear down the residences and send truckloads back over the nearby border to very uncertain futures.
© 2009 Brenden Allen