LEICA L.A. EXHIBIT: WORKSHEET

JOHN CHAO: Beyond The Quest (Intro Panel)

All these photographs are composite of multiple pictures. Whether decisive or unplanned, individual shots are merged into a single affirming moment. A photo like “Survivors” has more than one hundred whose combined clarity is unparalleled in resolution and size. This process stems from my exploratory work in the ’80s, before the age of photoshop, where pictures were printed and then merged as layers in a process I called — topography.

In 2021 I published my first book entitled 50-Year Vision Quest. It chronicled my visual journey and was intended to complete my photography pursuit. A retrospect — the finish line of my lifelong visual quest.

Surprisingly, these photographs are my first public showing in 53 years. It can be said to be an encore — and acclamation inspired by a 50-year high school reunion, where, for the first time, I met the secret crush of my freshman year. It was a magical encounter, a lifetime in the making. After three days, we rushed to get married.

These pictures were all taken in 2022, our honeymoon year.

Front Wall

AIR MAASAI: 
Masai Mara, Kenya — May 27, 2022
Guide: Michael Busienei
Leica M11 with 75mm Noctilux-M f/1.25

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 94″x 46″  $40,645

 

A Maasai Warrior levitates to the rhythm of their chant. When asked to jump, they replied that they couldn’t unless they sang. True to their tradition, the Maasai people are a few semi-nomadic cultures that survived the influence of the outside world. 

Wearing their red “Kanga” and always holding a spear or a staff, the higher the warrior jumps, the better the chances of attracting a wife or two. In the Maasai culture, a warrior is considered lazy for having just one.

 

Main Wall

DAZZLE IN THE DUST: 
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania — May 29, 2022
Guide: MJ
Leica SL2 with 90-280mm f2.8-4 APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 70″x 48″  $23,520

 

A single frolicking zebra runs and rolls in the dust near the water’s edge within the Ngorongoro Crater. A dazzle of zebras chilling nearby tolerates the spunky bather.

Within the caldera of an extinct volcano created 2.5 million years ago, this isolated setting is often referred to as the new “Garden of Eden.” The rim looming in the background provides a variety of ecosystems well-suited for wildlife and fauna. Contrasting to the migratory highway of the Serengeti Plain, right next door — zebras in the crater have found a year-round booking.

SURVIVERS:
Morondava, Madagascar — December 12, 2022
Guide: Rado Rakotondramanana
Leica SL2 with 90-280mm f2.8-4 APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 94″x 48″  $42,412

 

A call for paid help went out to surrounding villagers for work at a nearby field. The early morning start allowed a midday reprieve to members of the Sakalava community heading home on L’ Allee des Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar.

In the 105˚ heat, the last remaining shade of the Baobab trees can be a welcoming sight. Known to the Malagasies as Renala, “Mother of the Forest,” deforestation has spared these giants due to their removal challenge. Today, they are treasured icons — a global tourist attraction on an island facing a severe ecological crisis.

.

MOTHER OF A VANISHED FOREST: 
Kirindy Village, Madagascar — December 13, 2022
Guide: Rado Rakotondramanana
Leica M11 with 50 mm f/2 F APO-SUMMICRON

EXHIBITING PRINT #10/10 EDITION
Archival Framed 84″x48″  $33,870

 

A pastoral scene near the village of Kirindy in western Madagascar obscures the crisis facing the world’s 4th largest island. At the root of climate change, slash-and-burn deforestation, compounded by desperate agricultural practices, has brought severe consequences to Madagascar.

The villagers plow their newly claimed land at the base of a Baobab tree. These maternal trees, known as “Mother of The Forest,” stand as majestic survivors of their once-thriving forest.

ANCIENT SHOWROOM: 
Rano Raraku, Easter Island, Chile — September 25, 2022
Leica SL2 with 90-280mm f2.8-4 APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10 EDITION
Archival Framed 84″x 48″  $33,870

Easter Island, the most remote island in the world, has a mysterious history hidden in plain sight. Questions surrounding the date of human settlement abound — most prominently, the origins of the Moai (large stone carvings of human figures). It is estimated 900 Moai are on the island, many at the extinct volcano named Rano Raraku.

The scale of the unfinished Moai is the answer hiding in plain sight. It challenges the notion that Polynesian settlers created the Moai. These early settlers had no recorded skills nor capability to make bold, clean cuts at the scale revealed. Instead, like millions of us, they were drawn to the island to marvel at the presence of these mystifying Moai.

Back Wall

SERENGETI RAINBOW: 
Seronera, Tanzania — May 31, 2022
Guide: Felix Parmwat
Leica SL2 with 90-280mm f2.8-4 APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 94″x 48″  $42,412

 

A vast herd of elephants near Seronera, Tanzania, was spotted in between late afternoon storms. At a distance, the 200-plus gathering became unusually agitated — several trumpeting sirens ran out, and the elephants, in mass, turned and rumbled towards the horizon. Soon a stampede of screaming elephants raced across the plains whose congress would not be seen again.

The Maasai guide marveled at the aberration of such a abundant and touchy congregation. Perhaps it’s because they can be found at the end of a double rainbow.

Possible Backup Prints

SUNSET ON THE SERENGETI: 
Serengeti, Tanzania — May 31, 2022
Guide: Felix Parmwat
Leica SL2 with 90-280mm f2.8-4 APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 70″x 48″  $23,520

 

 

In northern Tanzania, the lioness shelters her cubs against the rain squall racing across the plains. With a lion population exceeding 3,000 in the Serengeti National Park, they are the top beneficiary of a food chain that thrives in this vast savanna. Their only threat is human encroachment into their natural habitat.

DAYBREAK: 
Serengeti, Tanzania — June 4, 2022
Guide: Felix Parmwat
Leica M11 with 75mm Noctilux-M f/1.25

EXHIBITED PRINT #10/10  EDITION
Framed 90″x 48″  $38,880

 

Near our tented camp, a surprise encounter with the King of the Serengeti. While credited as the top predator, the male lion is rather indifferent to the hunt. His nomadic energy centers more on mating, expanding his pride, and territorial protection. Much of the hunting is relegated to the lioness as the male conserves his energy for procreation and survival. It is said only 10% of male lions reach old age.

In the headlight of the Landrover, the Lion King paused for the camera to be activated and held a momentary pose for my slow hand-held shutter.

Let's Stay in Touch!

This is a work in progress. Sign-up to catch the latest discoveries from decades of photographs. Be notified to latest events and meet friends while unfolding blogs and pictures from a global vision quest.