photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twenty Three: Stirring emotions through atmosphere and mood. > Colonial Memories, Vientiane, Laos, 2005
previous | next

Colonial Memories, Vientiane, Laos, 2005

Vientiane, capital city of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, still preserves echoes of the French rule in Indochina. This old house was built during the colonial era. The formality and beauty of the gardens contrast to the peeling walls. The dark, saturated colors, and ghostly shadow cast on the wall by the open shutter door imply an atmosphere of decay and neglect. What once was elegant is now forlorn. The gaping black hole in the middle of the image suggests abandonment. Places that are decaying, neglected, forlorn and abandoned create atmospheres that affect both the emotions and the intellect. The French empire here is long gone, but it left a few ghosts in Vientiane.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20
1/500s f/5.6 at 46.7mm iso80 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis18-May-2006 19:35
Good point, Jenene. A sealed up window or door can symbolize change, and in this case, that change is essentially political.
JSWaters18-May-2006 06:13
I can only add that the window to the right is permanently closed over and may symbolize the passage from the French back to the Laotian.
Phil Douglis17-Apr-2006 06:42
Yes, I can give you lots of tips, Annelisa -- study these images carefully, read the comments, and write down what you learn. You will find a lot of food for thought.
Annelisa 27-Mar-2006 11:10
Hi Phil I'm studying photography ALevel at college, and for our exam I have choosen to focus on Mood and Atmosphere and you are the primary photographer that I am going to use. I was wondering if you could give me any tips or ideas in taking my own Mood and Atmosphere photographs.
Phil Douglis13-Apr-2005 20:59
You ask good questions, Dandan, just as I hoped you would. Although this house gave every appearance of being abandoned, living and working space is at a premium in Laos and Vientiane in particular, so I don't know if it is occupied or not. The gardens are so well maintained because they were not actually part of that house -- they were next door to that house. They are part of a sacred Buddhist temple complex, the same temple where I made this shot -- the one that you and I had that cropping discussion about:, as well as my shot of the tiny flower in the Buddha image's hand, which you also liked, at: All three images were made within just a few feet of each other. I loved the incongruous contrast of those beautiful plants and flowers, juxtaposed against what appears to be a decaying house. It is my guess that that house may also be part of the temple complex, and the monks simply do not have the funds to maintain it at the same level as the temple. I don't know if the temple's monks live or work in it or not.
Guest 13-Apr-2005 16:21
Phil, this is an interesting incongruity. Why the garden outside of this abandoned house is so well maintained? Are there still people live in there? It reminds me the castle in the movie Edward Scissorhands...
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment