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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twenty One: The Marketplace -- crossroads of a community. tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Twenty One: The Marketplace -- crossroads of a community.

One of the best places to create expressive travel photographs is in the marketplace. It is in the market where people gather, interact, and buy and sell the food, clothing and materials that gives a place its identity and its flavor.

In some societies, such as in the U.S., most people simply go to an indoor supermarket or shopping mall to buy their food and provisions. In other cultures, markets are often sprawling outdoor complexes of tents, stalls, tables, shops, or perhaps large halls filled with individual vendors, each selling their own specialties. In some places, marketplaces are city or town streets, lined with tables and stalls, set up only a few feet from where people live. The market often can be at the very core of a city or town’s life – a gathering place where a community really becomes a community. That’s why I feel we can often take the measure of a place from its markets –they are, at their essence, a microcosm of a society itself.

Shooting in the markets is a form of street photography, but it is often somewhat easier to photograph people in the market because they are busy spontaneously interacting with others, or they may be preoccupied with shopping or selling and are not as likely to notice the presence of a photographer. Markets are usually crowded, which also makes it easier for a photographer to blend in and become less visible. Markets are also rich in symbolic color, detail, and emotion, ready and waiting to be incorporated into travel photographs. To express the flavor of a place, go to where those flavors are sold – the marketplace. The possibilities for story-telling pictures are endless.

All of the initial examples posted in this gallery were made in markets in Laos and Burma in early 2005. In the future, I will be adding examples of marketplace photography to this gallery made elsewhere as well. I’ve selected most of these images from my archive of digital travel articles posted at:

This gallery is presented in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.