Photography at Norlha
In 2007, we were all ten years younger and full of hope and expectation. When the time came to begin to document our work at Norlha we used the resources we had: for photographers, Dechen and I had experience; for models we selected from our staff of weavers, dyers and spinners; and the pasture would be our backdrop. Our first memorable photoshoot took place in the fall of 2007. We loaded models and scarves on a blue camel, the little all terrain truck used by nomads, and drove to the fall pasture. We borrowed a nearby grazing yak from Serwo, our bookkeeper, and took the iconic photo that still represents Norlha; Drukmo Kyi, our star weaver, donning a spectacular grey shawl, saddling the great horned beast with the ease that only a nomad could muster.
Norlha will soon be ten years old, and over the years, we found our favorite spots on the pasture, working against the changing light and shades of grassland that each season brought. We brought along yaks, horses, sheep and even gazelles to pose along with our models, who still hail from the atelier.
In 2015, we launched Norlha as a brand and began working on our website. Quality images were crucial and Dechen began to look further for photography and styling. A friend in Hong Kong offered to help bring a photographer and stylist and their crew. They could only come for two days, and though their terms were more than generous, we began to wonder about the sustainability of such an operation; we could never be sure to get the right weather in such a short period, and we could never be sure that they would visit again the next time we needed to shoot. I told Dechen that there was no reason she couldn’t do it. We both improved our equipment and another Hong Kong friend came to help us set up a studio.
Now shoots are a weekly occurrence. Dechen has her favorite models, girls from the sewing room, boys from the dyeing room. Weaver's or manager’s children pose for the children shoots and Norbu, Dechen’s poodle, regularly photo bombs the pictures.