In Laos, when you go to someone’s home or workplace, they will usually have large portraits of them selves decorating the walls. These portraits are taken in numerous photo studios found throughout the city, and cater to people getting married who want to do wedding photos, and women who like to get dressed up and have photos taken of themselves. Once I walked into a massage shop and on the wall in front of me was a series of 5 portraits around the 11 x 17″ size, framed, of what I assume was the owner of the shop, each portrait in a different outfit and a different pose. This is apparently considered tasteful decorating in Laos.
After realising that the photo studios actually provide all the clothing and accessories for a portrait, and also do your hair and make-up, I decided it would be a great momento of my time in Laos to go and get a traditional Lao portrait done.
So, here are the results. Please note that the portrait studio took it upon themselves to air-brush my face to the point where it doesn’t even look like me.
It was really quite a funny experience. In particular, the application of my make-up and styling of my hair was incredibly bizarre. I have no idea what products were used on me, and false eyelashes were glued to my eyelids and my hair was teased to an unbelievable height. Then, a black cone of false hair was placed on my head, which did not look like it could have possibly been part of my actual hair. However, when they put all the jewellery on it, it was less noticeably incongruous. The shoes…are also possibly the funniest footwear I have ever had on my feet. And the poses I was instructed to take… the whole experience, as I said, very funny. Despite the humour of the situation, I tried very hard to maintain a straight face, as Lao people tend not to smile in their portraits.
So, now I am just waiting for my 11 x 17″ enlargements and gilded frames to put these babies up in my office and living room.