In the volcanic mountain of Kawah Ijen on the Island of Java in Indonesia, toxic smoke billows out onto the surface of the mountain through tentacle-like tunnels. A golden treasure is escorted into the light from the depths of the burning hell fires:
pure sulphur, or Devil's gold,
as the local calls it.
Sulphur is what the miners are harvesting as they labor deep in the belly of Mount Ijen, collecting this yellow mineral with their bare hands and crude tools. The toxic smoke emitting from the pipes
appears to be alive, invading pockets of fresh air where the miners are working and making it difficult to breath. Most of the workers only have rags to cover their noses and mouths.
The sulphur sometimes drips like melted candy from the man-made outlets in the mountain. Miners break up the sulphur into smaller pieces for transport in their reed baskets, carrying about seventy kilograms on their shoulders with no padding and begin their steep ascent out of the crater, climbing 800 meters. Completing two trips a day in ten hours earns them a daily wage of US $12.00, which is considered very high pay in this region.
Larry Louie lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and practices Optometry at Louie Eyecare Center, where his photography gallery exhibits his prints. His photographs have won numerous awards, including the Lucie Awards 2007 Discovery of the Year, 2010 Travel Photographer of the Year, National Geographic 2010 World in Focus (First Place), and the 2012 Black and White Spider Award (First Place).
Larry’s award winning photographs have appeared in Asian Photography Magazine
, Digital Camera Magazine
, Photo Life
, British Journal of Photography
, B&W Magazine
, National Geographic
and National Geographic Traveler Magazine
His work has been exhibited around the world, including the Royal Geographical Society of London in the United Kingdom, the Circle of Fine Art in Madrid, Spain, the Charleston Center for Photography in South Carolina, the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver, Canada and the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) in Edmonton, Canada.
Over the last couple of years, Dr. Louie has used his photography as a platform to highlight the work of different charities around the world, along with other social issues and challenges people are encountering in a world facing rapid urbanization and globalization.
He wants to engage people with inspiring stories of perseverance and strength, not only about individuals who have found themselves caught in such a plight but also the amazing people and organizations that lend them a helping hand. Dr. Louie hopes his photographs will be able to tell these stories and make a difference, revealing light that is found in the darkest of places.
Larry’s passion for his art is fueled by those who push boundaries. For him, it’s photographers Sebastião Salgado and Josef Koudelka, and musicians Kate Bush and David Bowie. Music has always been equally important to him, so has another dream of his: since optometry school, he's been the lead singer in a band. Larry is going after this dream too, with a Junk Punk band he calls Scary Larry and the Phoropters.