emaho tibet book coverReviewed by Holly Madison

Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows initially caught my eye because I love the Buddhist philosophy, and I have always wanted to see Tibet. More or less, it is a book of photography, with photos from different places that the author journeyed to in his travels through the Land of the Snows.

My favorite photo in the book features a landscape, showing the valley surrounded by all of the mountains. I never pictured Tibet this way, and it gave me a whole new perspective on the land. It was haunting–something out of a dream. So much more than high mountainous desert…. a land that holds memories of beauty and deep spirituality. It was very fitting for what I think the author was trying to achieve in his book.

Each turn of the page shows a new photo, with a phrase or saying that goes along with it; they range from almost humorous to serious and powerful. I found that I really enjoyed reading these, and looked forward to them almost as much as the photos. But I did find that some of these little snippets of wisdom feel very well placed, while others just seem to not quite fit into the image on the page. There was a bit of randomness that made me ask, “Why did the author choose this image and this phrase to go along with it?” I really would have loved to read things that the author had to say (himself) in addition to the occasional quote or phrase, that way I could get a better understanding of the message he was trying to convey with his photographic story.

I loved the photos of the people of Tibet, more than the various statues that were (a bit too often) pictured. I love seeing different people going about their daily lives, with the occasional close up showcasing an elderly person’s wrinkles–each one representing one hardship or another that they have overcome. These photos were the most powerful, and made me really stop and ponder what it must be like to live in a place that is a land of peace surrounded by those who would take away freedom by means of violence and oppression. Somehow these photos were happy and sad at the same time. I found myself happy that life can go on and that Tibet still exists, in one way or another. I also found myself very sad, knowing the history of this beautiful land and its gentle people.

Now for my thoughts on some things that I think would make the book better:

Above all else, this book is a photographic journey. In books of this nature (and price range), I think that the quality of the photographs really needs to be exceptional, and that is not always the case in this book. Don’t get me wrong–many of the photographs are absolutely beautiful, but some are a bit blurry or tilted, or off-center. Things like the tilt problem could easily be perspective cropped in Photoshop to look a lot cleaner and nicer. The blurry photos should be re-taken or replaced with better photos for a more professional appearance.

Most of the quotes in the book are just normal formatted text, then a few actually go along and curve with the photos in an artistic fashion. This could be very successful looking if it was consistent (and all of the photos and text were done this way), but since there is a big mix between “artsy” and “regular”, it just feels odd to me. I think the book would be more successful if only one style was used instead of this strange mix.

Many of the quotes and sayings in this book are profound. I think that they speak volumes on their own, but I would really love to get a sense of the author’s journey through his photographs. I’d love to get some sort of a narrative from him (or his own quotes) as he goes from photo to photo. It would feel like we are being taken on the journey with him while he describes where he is and what is going on around him, rather than just photos that could have been taken anywhere in Tibet. I really feel that this one detail would make the biggest impact on the overall reception of this book.

I feel like this book is wonderful, but could be even more amazing with a few small tweaks. It has the right intention and the right perspective… it just needs a little bit more to push it from where it currently stands into something truly incredible.

Overall I give it 4 stars out of 5, and I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Tibet.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Holly has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and owns a small business with her husband selling fleece and hand-spun yarn. When she is not spinning yarn, she does freelance work as a graphic design artist and is highly involved in animal rescue.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Orange Palm and Magnificent Magus Publications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.