Blog Gallery: Bhutan People And Temples - April 2020

In September 2019 I took a trip through the isolated mountain Kingdom of Bhutan, the land of the thunder dragon. Below you will find examples of portrait photography of Bhutan people, landscape photography of rice paddies, and wildlife photography of local monkeys.


Note my favorite images are for sale as luxury fine art prints (sublimated aluminum metal and Lumachrome acrylic wall art) in my online photography gallery that you can access here.

You can also purchase directly from this page by clicking the 'Prints Available' link under the available images.


Bhutan, Asia, chorten, stupa, door, photo tip, tripod, slow shutter speed, buddha temple, photography tip, photo

Buddha temple 1

The first shooting location was around the capital city of Thimphu. Across the street from our small hotel stood the Memorial Chorten. The devout wake up early and head to this Buddha temple to walk around this structure several times in a clockwise pattern to bring good luck to their lives. Photography tip - slow shutter speed (and tripod) are used here to capture the movement.

prayer wheels, Thimphu, Bhutan, photography tip, tripod, slow shutter speed, movement, Asia, buddha temple, photo

Prayer Wheels

Prayer wheels at the Memorial Chorten where those seeking merit walk, chant, and turn the wheels many times as they walk through this Buddha temple. Photography tip - slow shutter speed is used here (with a tripod) to capture the movement of the woman and the prayer wheels.

bronze buddha, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, buddha temple, photo

Big Buddha

At this Buddha temple, this giant bronze buddha statue sits on top of a hill overlooking the capital city, Thimphu. A recent rain allowed for a nice reflection in the wet tile.

women, emptiness, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, negative space, mystery, clouds, buddha temple, photography tip, photo

Bhutan people at buddha temple

Two women stare off into the emptiness looking over Thimphu while standing at the Buddha temple. Photography tip - the negative space of the clouds creates a feeling of mystery.

abstract image, metal bowl, Buddha Dordenma Temple, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, color, texture, photography tip, abstract photography, buddha temple, photo

metal abstract image

This abstract image is of the inside of a large metal bowl at a the Buddha Dordenma Temple in Thimphu. It is amazing what you can find in the most unlikely of places; the color and texture of the inside of this bowl were amazing. Photography tip - look for pattern, line, and texture in unlikely places to improve your abstract photography.

Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, dancers, hands, traditional, red, green, costumes, Bhutan people, hands photo, photo

Bhutan people hands photo

As part of our tour of the city, a troupe of Bhutanese dancers gave a performance of traditional local dances. Here I focused on their hands and the colors of red and green. You can see they like their elaborate costumes!

fabric store, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, elaborate cloth, traditional clothing, photo

Bhutan Fabric Store

This is a candid shot of a woman working in a fabric store in Thimphu. Bhutan is famous for the elaborate cloth used to make traditional clothing.

buddhist monastery, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, monk, student, shoes, prayer hall, photography tip, monastery for monks, monk image, photo

Monk image walking

We visited a buddhist monastery for monks outside of Thimphu where young men study to be monks. Most of the students were indoors escaping the rain, and there were a mountain of shoes on the stairs leading up to the main prayer hall. I caught this image of one stray monk going the other direction after waiting for quite some time. Photography tip - it always pays to be patient in photography!

monk, Buddhist University, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, monasteries, composition, portrait photography, monk image, rule of thirds, photo

Monk image

This new monk was just finishing up his studies at a Buddhist University on the outskirts of Thimphu. Once they graduate from here, they go to work on buddhist monasteries around the country or beyond. This is a good composition for standard portrait photography, using the rule of thirds to capture this monk image.

young monks, Buddhist school, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, Buddhist University, monasteries, portrait, image of monks, photo

young monks image

Two young monks goofing off in front of the camera outside of their Buddhist school. This made a nice portrait and another great image of monks in Bhutan.

young monk, dorm room, Buddhist boarding school, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, Buddhism, monasteries, monastery resident, photo

monastery resident

This young monk and monastery resident is sitting on his bed in the room he shares with several others at a Buddhist boarding school on the outskirts of Thimphu. He will spend essentially of of his life devoted to Buddhism, from boarding schools to university to working in Buddhist monasteries once he graduates.

oil stain abstract, color, texture, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, abstract image, close up, photo

oil abstract image

This abstract image is a close up of a simple oil stain on pavement, left by a car in need of service. If you get close enough and focus on the colors and texture, it really turns into something fascinating. This was taken in Thimphu but could have been taken anywhere.

Bhutan, Asia, side of the road, stream, prayer flags, stupa, chorten, photo

prayer flags

From Thimphu, we went up the mountains on our way to our next destination. This image was taken at a stop on the side of the road. It had it all: a small stream, lots of prayer flags, and a stupa (known locally as a chorten) or small holy structure. Again, a tripod and slow shutter speed allowed for the water to become smooth and the flags to show some movement.

Dochala Pass, Bhutan, Asia, Himalayas, fog, limited visibility, creative, image, stupa, chorten, fade into obscurity, pattern, landscape photo, photo

Chorten landscape photo

From the Dochala Pass on a clear day, you can see the Himalayas. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate while I was there, so everything was covered with a thick fog that severely limited visibility. However, putting on my creative cap, I had to find a way to use the fog to my advantage. The image you see here is the result as the chorten fade into obscurity, creating a nice, relaxing pattern. This landscape photo portrays a sense of tranquility.

Bhutan, rhesus macaque, monkey, portrait, wildlife, Dochula Pass, telephoto, Asia, monkey photo, image of monkey, photo

image of monkey

This monkey photo is of one of a group of rhesus macaques on the side of the road near Dochula Pass (+/- 10,000' elevation). They were just at the edge of the jungle looking for food. Most were plain brown, but this one had a lovely red color around the eyes. Fortunately I had my super telephoto lens with me (which I almost didn't bring on the trip as it is so big and heavy), so I was able to get in tight to make a nice portrait against the green of the forrest behind. This one shot made carrying that big lens worthwhile!

landscape image, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, rice field, mountain landscape, photo

mountain landscape

This mountain landscape image was taken from a road side restaurant outside of Punakha. Green rice fields, mountains, and human developments all make for a nice image.

travel photograph, Bhutan, Asia, Punakha, woman, umbrella, terraced rice fields, rice paddy, photo

rice paddy Bhutan

This is an iconic travel photograph from Bhutan. A woman with a pink umbrella is walking though the green, terraced rice paddy.

girl, snacks, corner store, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, portrait, environment, bhutanese girl, photo

Bhutan Corner Store

This young Bhutanese girl is working selling snacks in a makeshift corner store in the town of Punakha. Some of these snacks were quite yummy! This composition allows for a portrait but also the environment that she is in.

Punakha market, Bhutan, Asia, persimmons, orange, red, zoom lens, stunning image, travel, image of hands, outdoor market, photo

image of hands persimmons

This is a shot from the Punakha market. I found this woman holding orange persimmons while wearing a bright red dress. I took advantage of my zoom lens to get in close and focus on the color to get this stunning image. Close up images of hands make for interesting photos. You never know what you will find when you travel!

close up, vegetables, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, onions, tomatoes, green beans, abstract, color, abstract photography, outdoor market, photo

vegetables abstract photo

The local market in Punakha is always a colorful affair. Everywhere there are people dressed in traditional clothing as well as piles of fruits, vegetables, and spices. These onions, tomatoes, and green beans made for a nice abstract of bold colors. Taking a close up is a great way to do abstract photography.

outdoor market, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, red pepper, white garlic, pattern, food, ingredients, close up, abstract image, photo

abstract image of garlic

Another abstract image from the outdoor market in Punakha. Here a red pepper was added on top of white garlic to add some color and break the pattern a bit. This is the beginning of some good food with two of my favorite ingredients!

old woman, rice field, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, prayer flags, portrait, bhutanese woman, photo

Bhutan old woman

This old Bhutanese woman was in a rice field near Punakha. The prayer flags behind her made a nice addition to the portrait. She and her husband were doing a type of Sunday school, reciting religious teachings to a small gathering.

Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, woman, composition, hands, clothes, jewelry, image, images of hands, old woman, photo

image of hands old woman

I decided to take a composition of just her hands, clothes, and jewelry to capture the image you see here. Images of hands are always fascinating as the viewer tries to guess the life of the owner.

hands, children, grandmother, flower, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, image of hands, photo

image of hands with kids

Two young children place their hands on the hands of a grandmother holding a flower. Taken in Punakha, images of hands like this one convey a sense of calm and belonging.

portrait photography, toddler, Marco prime lens, different perspective, wide aperture, eyes in focus, village, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, photography tip, photo

portrait photography toddler

I spent a lot of time on this trip focusing on portrait photography. I even stuck with my macro prime lens to force me to get in close and get a different perspective like what you see here with this toddler. Portrait photography tip - with super wide apertures, it is possible to get the eyes in focus while other parts of the face are already out of focus.

young boy, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, prime macro lens, different perspective, portrait, portrait photography, photo

portrait photography boy

I took this image of a young boy near Punakha while walking around with my prime macro lens. I wanted to force myself to get a different perspective, resulting in the portrait you see here. Portrait photography is about showing people in a unique perspective.

young girl, corn, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, color, yellow, gold, pink, portrait, portrait photography, traveling , photo

portrait photography girl

This young girl was enjoying her corn when I stumbled upon her while out walking. We worked the colors by asking her mother (in pink behind) to hold her while the yellow corn and gold eyeshadow made a nice compliment. This is a good example of portrait photography while traveling.

environmental portrait, store, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, surroundings, food, Bhutan people photo, photo

Bhutan people photo

This environmental portrait is of a Bhutanese man in his store in Punakha. This type of image allows you to show the surroundings to get a better feel for how the subject lives and works. Note the food sold was cheap and delicious!

Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, baby, portrait photography, background, eyes, photography tip, photo

portrait photography baby

This baby was watching me from his mother's lap in a vendor stall in Punakha. I liked the wide eyes and the black background. Portrait photography tip - look for shadow pockets or dark fabrics to make a black background to make the subject stand out.

beautiful woman photo, model, yellow flowers, red dress, background, portrait, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, photo

beautiful woman photo

This beautiful young woman was a waitress at a restaurant in town. As our guide knew her, she followed us along to model in various locations. Here she is standing in front of some flowers in the background, the red and yellow complimenting each other well to make a nice portrait photograph.

Bhutan girl, red, blue, laundry, Punakha, Bhutan, Asia, environmental portrait, Bhutan people, photo

Bhutan people kid

This young Bhutanese girl dressed in red was sitting on a blue windowsill with colorful laundry hanging to dry in the small town of Punakha. This is something of an environmental portrait.

photo, sunset, Wangdue, Bhutan, Asia, Dzong, temple, fortress, river, bhudda temple, night, photo

buddha temple at night

This photo was taken just after sunset near Punakha. It is of a Dzong, which is a special Bhutanese building that is a combination of a Buddha temple and a fortress. This Dzong is particularly beautiful as it sits in the fork of two rivers.

environmental shots, wide angle lens, foreground, Bhutan girl, Wangdue, Bhutan, Asia, photo

Bhutan Girl Wide Angle

A great way to get environmental shots is to use a wide angle lens. But note that you have to have something interesting in the foreground for this to work. Here I used a girl that was coming home from school and who wanted me to take her picture in the village of Wangdue.

Bhutan, apples, woman, laughter, happiness, Bhutan people, woman laughing, photo

Bhutan people woman laughing

This Bhutan woman was selling apples near the road where we made a pit stop. Once I started taking her picture, her embarrassment turned into full on laughter! Bhutan is known to measure Gross National Happiness, and it can be seen in the big smiles of the Bhutan people.

old man, Thimphu, Bhutan, Asia, face, portrait, black background, old man photo, photo

old man photo

This old man was sitting at the edge of the street in Thimphu. His face said a thousand words, so we added a black background and focused on that to get a nice portrait.

hike, mountain, rain, mud, view, Tiger's Nest Temple, Paro, Bhutan, Asia, Paro Taktsang, Buddhism, India, Guru Padmasambahva, meditate, cave, tigress, mountain temple, photo

Paro Taktsang mountain temple

The last great adventure of the trip was going to take some effort. The 2-1/2 hour hike up the mountain in the rain and the mud didn't really seem worth it until I came to this view. This is the famous Tiger's Nest Temple in Paro, near Thimphu. Known locally as Paro Taktsang, this mountain temple was first built in 1692 on the site where the holy man that brought Buddhism to Bhutan from India, Guru Padmasambahva (say that three times fast!), meditated in a cave for over three years after arriving on the back of a tigress.

image, Tiger Nest Temple, Paro, Bhutan, Asia, prayer flags, valley, hike, mountain temple, photo

mountain temple with prayer flags

This image is of the famous mountain temple, called Tiger's Nest Temple in Paro, Bhutan in Asia as seen through some prayer flags from across the valley. Little did I know that after the grueling hike to get to this location, I was still a long ways away from the end! The drizzle didn't help as the dirt trail became very slippery in parts.

That concludes the story of my journey through the Kingdon of Bhutan. I hope you enjoyed the images of the people of Bhutan, Buddhist temples, mountain landscapes, and even wildlife. This trip was organized by my friend and photography teacher Bryan Peterson. If you love travel and want to take your photography to the next level, you can see info on his workshops here.


Note my favorite images are for sale as luxury fine art prints (sublimated aluminum metal and Lumachrome acrylic wall art) in my online photography gallery that you can access here.

You can also purchase directly from this page by clicking the 'Prints Available' link under the available images.


Posted in Travel, Asia, People.

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