Local photographer goes behind the scenes of Bhutan
What goes on behind the scenes in the happiest place on earth?
Singaporean fine-art photographer Billy Mork visited Bhutan for the first time in October 2016, after he was commissioned by the Himalayan country to capture never-before-seen pictures of Bhutanese daily life.
A selection of these photos will be showcased at X Edition, a hotel art fair from Sept 6 to 9 at the Regent Singapore.
Works by other photographers - including local celebrity photographer Russel Wong and Italian analogue photographer Paolo Solari Bozzi - will also be displayed.
Mr Mork, president and chief curator of X Edition, founded the Immagini Art Gallery in 2012 and has gone on other commissioned trips to countries like Myanmar.
Mr Mork, 64, who has been in the industry for more than 40 years, believes a photographer's role is to reflect society.
And that was what he aimed to do on his 10-day trip to Bhutan, visiting numerous temples and monasteries and going into valleys, eschewing famed tourist sites for the mountainous regions where the locals lived.
He recalled being warmly welcomed at every town he visited, from Bhutan's capital Thimphu to Paro to Punakha to Samtengang.
"When I arrived, the first thing that impressed me about Bhutan was its people," Mr Mork told The New Paper.
"Children ran to greet me, and many locals invited me into their homes for a meal. From my interactions with them, I can say it's true that Bhutan is a happy country.
"I definitely want to return to Bhutan one day, as I really admire the slower pace of life there."
But Mr Mork's trip was not always easy.
Surrounded by colourful Buddhist murals high in the eastern Himalayas, he walked on steep paths, overcoming challenging altitudes to capture picturesque abbeys, villages and the faces of the Bhutanese.
En route to Samtengang from Thimphu, his car had to take a detour as boulders from the surrounding mountains had fallen on the road, blocking the way.
It took more than six hours to complete a journey that normally takes around two hours.
Mr Mork also had to work around unexpected changes in the weather.
He said: "When it rained, for example, I made use of the surroundings, such as reflections in water puddles, to create my shots."
Mr Mork said that communicating with the locals was no problem, as many of them speak English.
Road signs are also in English.
He encourages aspiring photographers to visit Bhutan for its beautiful scenery and people.
He added: "For a more unconventional look into the country, you can contact Bhutanese tour agencies to see if they can arrange tours to less touristy towns."
Due to the demanding landscape, carrying a camera too large or equipment too heavy would have been impractical.
So Mr Mork shot only with his Leica V-Lux, a compact camera that has a non-interchangeable lens, instead of his usual repertoire of equipment which includes a range of lenses for different purposes.
"Use a camera that suits your needs and main purpose. It's not about what equipment you use, but about the moments you catch in your photos," he said.