Nepal Fundraising

In the days following this final installment of our #FutureofCities series, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal which caused the loss of thousands of lives. Brian Sokol has returned to his adopted home of Kathmandu and is currently assisting in relief efforts as best he can, whilst also documenting the wreckage to share with the world and hopefully gain support in lending assistance.  

One such way of lending assistance is through a print sale fundraiser which is offering selected images captured just days before this earthquake, to remind us of the beauty that needs rebuilding. Although partly lost forever, the old soul of Nepal will not fade. All proceeds of the sale will go directly to two chosen relief organisations.

For more information on how to support, click here.

  • 01(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-Stop: f/8, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 200)

    A bird spreads its wings above a newly developed area of Kathmandu, while the high summits of the Langtang Himalayan range rise in the background. Isolated between malarial jungles to the south and the world's tallest mountains to the north, Nepal has long existed in something of a 'time warp' that continues to the current day.

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  • 02(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA lens (F-stop: 16, Shutter: 1/50, ISO: 250)

    Construction materials and pedestrians are seen out of the window of a new building in Kathmandu. Only a few years ago, this was the edge of the city, and emerald green rice paddies filled the space now occupied by high-rise apartment blocks and quickly constructed concrete homes. Yet hidden amid the maze of new buildings are tiny, ancient shrines around which the development bends itself. In this way, the traditions and history of Kathmandu physically shape its future.

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  • 03(3)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA lens (F-stop: 22, Shutter: 1/60, ISO: 160)

    A young man working at a construction site looks out at a traffic jam on Kathmandu's Ring Road. This band of pothole-studded concrete was once used to signify the end of the city, however in recent years Kathmandu has jumped far beyond its original boundaries, and carrying capacity.

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  • 04(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA lens (F-stop: 22, Shutter: 1/320, ISO: 800)

    On the side of the Ring Road, which once marked the edge of Kathmandu, Nepalese people walk through clouds of dust from rapid construction. In the background a dense cluster of new buildings rise in an area that was formerly extremely fertile and productive agricultural land.

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  • 05(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7R camera with medium format 35mm F3.5 lens (F-stop: 14, Shutter: 1/50, ISO: 100)

    Two young Nepali women descend a spiral staircase at a new construction site in Kathmandu. Scattered amid myriad new asphalt parking lots and brightly-painted concrete towers are dozens of small shrines, hidden copses of fertile agricultural land. The incredibly rapid urbanization of Kathmandu is matched only by the extent to which it clings to its long history and numerous traditions.

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  • 06(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-stop: 14, Shutter: 1/40, ISO: 100)

    Reflections play on the surface of a dirty window at a construction site in Kathmandu as the sun sets into the hills surrounding the city. Only a few years ago, this area beyond the city's Ring Road was occupied by emerald green rice paddies and terraced wheat fields. In the past few years the space has become occupied by high-rise apartment blocks and quickly constructed concrete homes. Still hidden within this labyrinth of new construction are tiny, ancient shrines around which the development bends itself. In this way, the traditions and history of Kathmandu physically shape its future.

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  • 07(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7R camera (F-stop: 11, Shutter: 3 seconds, ISO: 2000)

    A new hospital stands partially constructed in Kathmandu. Ironically, the construction of this building dedicated to the health of the city’s people is contributing to the pollution of the city’s watercourses, which in recent years have become overwhelmed by debris from the rapid, unplanned urbanization. The watercourses of the Kathmandu Valley are considered to be sacred by the local people, and many of the city’s residents hold a religious belief that the waters are incorruptible. This traditional outlook could lead to further environmental damage in future, as little is being done to protect the waters.

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  • 08(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with 19mm F2.8 lens (Shutter: 1/3, ISO: 8000)

    While the Ring Road theoretically encircles Kathmandu proper, the city has since spilled beyond this cracked ribbon of concrete, devouring the rice paddies and wheat fields beyond. While the last official census shows a population of 975,000, the actual number of people living in the greater Kathmandu valley is estimated to be nearly 3 million. Perhaps the number is even greater when taking seasonal or migrant workers into account. Much of the population influx is due to Nepal's 10-year civil war, during which people fled insecurity in the rural hinterlands, seeking safety in the capital.

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  • 09(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7R camera with Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA lens (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/4, ISO: 1250)

    Night falls and stars emerge as solar panels and an ancient temple share space in the tight confines of Kathmandu. As Nepal's government has been unable to keep pace with inhabitants' hunger for electricity, individuals turn to solar and generator power to light up their homes.

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  • 10(2)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with 75mm F2 lens (Shutter: 1/6, ISO: 6400)

    The lights of Kirtipur, an ancient city swallowed up by the metropolis of Kathmandu, illuminate the hillside into which it was built. Several decades ago there were only traditional thatch and brick houses here, but in the intervening years a new Kirtipur has been built atop the old. However, within the modern homes are remnants of the city that stood there before. The same sacred stones and ancient carvings still reside in families' altars and adorn temples rebuilt after war, fire and earthquakes. Everywhere in Kathmandu the old mingles, coexists with, and curiously infuses the new.

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  • 11(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera with 75mm F2 lens (Shutter: 1/320, ISO: 4000)

    Despite decades of development projects, foreign aid and the inevitable forces of modernization, there are still deeply held spiritual beliefs in Nepal that can seem puzzling to foreigners. During the day, Kathmandu's roads are jam packed with cars, bicycles, goats, cattle, men with refrigerators strapped to their heads, busses and 3-wheeled electric rickshaws - but at night you can drive from one side of the city to the other, passing scarcely a soul. One of the reasons for this is a long-held cultural belief that by night the Kathmandu Valley is roamed by witches and other malevolent spirits.

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  • 12(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7R camera (F-stop: 16, Shutter: 13 seconds, ISO: 800)

    Stars begin to emerge as motorcycles paint streams of passing light in Taumadhi Square, Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of the three city-states, along with Lalitpur (or Patan) and Kathmandu, which together form the Kathmandu metropolitan area. Unlike Kathmandu, which has seen a recent building boom, Bhaktapur has held more closely to its past. Rather than being torn down, ancient buildings are refurbished, sometimes haphazardly, and continue to be lived in. It's not uncommon for three or four generations of a family to be living together under one slanted roof, uniting the elderly with newborns - the past with the future.

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  • 13(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/10, ISO: 1600)

    Families, priests and passersby congregate near a small temple in one of Kathmandu's narrow, winding streets. Thousands of these tiny religious sites dot the valley floor, creating chaotic traffic patterns and leading to frequent jams during prayer time as the city has been forced to bend and build itself around its history.

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  • 14(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-stop: 4, Shutter: 1/15, ISO: 2000)

    Part commercial center, part place of spiritual worship, the Annapurna temple stands behind a fruit vender in Kathmandu's Ason Tol. The holy structure is ringed in with people selling everything from tiny luggage locks to pomegranates and Chinese knock-offs of Adidas footwear.

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  • 15(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/3, ISO: 10000)

    The face of an older Nepali man wearing a traditional 'topi' hat is illuminated by his cell phone while he text messages at the Bisket Jatra festival in Bhaktapur, one of the three city state's in Nepal's Kathamndu Valley. During Bisket Jatra, tens of thousands of Nepalese come and take digital photographs of wooden chariots being pulled by hand through cobbled alleyways. The contrast between the old and new, and the preservation of ancient rituals, objects and beliefs, can be quite surprising in Kathmandu. Until recently the festival, much of which takes place after dark, was largely lit by candlelight. Caught at a crossroads of the ancient and modern, and struggling to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding urban population, Kathmandu is still often illuminated by tiny candle flames. This is in part out of religious observation, but more often due to an extreme lack of electricity, despite Nepal's immense hydroelectric potential.

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  • 16(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7M2 camera (F-stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/13, ISO: 6400)

    Ancient wooden palaces, modern brick and concrete buildings, shoppers, steamed dumpling salesmen, taxis and rickshaws come together in a colorful, chaotic intersection of Kathmandu known as Indra Chowk.

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  • 17(1)

    Brian Sokol

    Kathmandu

    Sony α7R camera (F-stop: 11, Shutter: 5 seconds, ISO: 800)

    Young lovers sit on the steps of temples, some of which are engraved with elaborate, erotic carvings, as new Indian and Chinese motorcycles sit parked under their eaves in Mangalbazaar, Lalitpur (Patan) in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. Patan was once an independent city state several miles from Kathmandu proper, but urbanization has caused the two to fuse into one vast metropolitan area, ringed by mountains, studded with temples and surging with a sea of millions of humans.

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Brian Sokol

Brian Sokol

"For me, photography is about two things – information and emotion. If you don't feel something when you take a photo, people won't feel anything when they see it."

Brian works on various themes to do with displacement – statelessness, refugees, migrants, nomads – perhaps because he has no idea where in the world he belongs.  He loves it best when he’s at either extreme altitude or latitude.  French food, rock-climbing and scuba make him happy, but he’s not very good at shooting any of those things, so hello humanitarian documentary!  No, seriously…

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