Ron & Kathy Binder

MISSIONARIES: Summer Institute of Linguistcs in Panama

Ron and Kathy Binder are linguists tasked with a mission into the lives of the Wounaan Indians of Panama and Colombia. Their goal was to create written words and preserve a Bible in the native language. This calling became a life-long engagement with lives along the Tuira River. Close to fifty-years after I photographed, the Binders continue to play a supporting role and guide emerging lives into the 20th century. Through the gentle prodding of Binders, many have become skilled craftsmen, artists whose baskets are collected and sells for thousands, even actors in Hollywood movies. Most have migrated into cities. 

 

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John Chao Photography

Wounaans, Panama 1973

The Wounaans are a tropical forest group of indigenous people dispersed along the border of Panama and Colombia. Originally part of the Choco linguistic family…

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Decades

2000’s DECADE

HEAT’S ON: A decade of transformation. The dawning of the age of Aquarius. Water turning to steam. Fruition from the quest was liberating. It was a decade that exchanged ambition for the magic of the unknown.

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1990’s DECADE

SINK OR SWIM: The ’90s were filled with risk and perils. A decade of demanding faith and vision. Jumping before knowing where to land. A decade filled with challenges, difficulties and yet breathtaking miracles.

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1970’s DECADE

DECADE OF ADVENTURE: Fresh and exciting, a decade of innocent encounters, whether temporal or spiritual, all powerful awakenings. A dance of light, faith, and form, converging in time, out of chaos into moments of delight and awe.

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1980’s DECADE

INDULGING DEFIANCE: Photography gave me wings but also a sense of boundless creativity. This was a decade of independence, anti-establishment. It was a decade that avoided entrapment, both stylistic and accomplishment,. an era of exploration and renaissance.

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A Year in the '70s

1976

DISCOVERING WILDERNESS It’s the illusions that are peeled away by the realities of my wilderness. From jungles to the road and into the wilderness…

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1978

PEDDLING PHOTOGRAPHS Seeking assignments in New York was a vain act yielding little satisfaction. The market is always saturated.

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1973

YEAR OF ENCROACHMENT in the jungles of Central and South America, I played in the fields of the Lord. I photographed faith-based …

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1970

ADVENTURE BEGINS with the first photograph published and paid for by the Chicago Tribune. Suddenly the camera became a ticket to adventure…

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ME

don't kiss goodbye