Buddhist Photographer Nicholas Vreeland Captures Journey in Tibet

Nicholas Vreeland

Nicolas Vreeland shows his collection of photographs from a 2003 journey with his spiritual teacher, Khyongla Rinpoche.

Nicholas Vreeland is the Abbot of Rato Dratsang, one of a few important Tibetan Government monasteries under the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Vreeland is also Director of The Tibet Center, the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Center in New York City. He is a Buddhist monk and holds a Geshe degree, the equivalent of a PhD.

Born in Geneva Switzerland to American parents, Vreeland was educated in Europe, North Africa, and the United States, after which he pursued a career in photography. Vreeland has edited the books An Open Heart, a New York Times best seller, and 2011’s, A Profound Mind, both written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is also founder of Photos for Rato, a series of fundraisers that have been held in France, Italy, Germany, India, and the U.S., which underwrote, through the sale of his photographs, a large part of the construction of Rato Monastery in India.

“I was taught to always have a handkerchief in my pocket of my jacket. My father taught me that, I am pretty sure his father taught him. I always thought I would be a photographer. From the age of thirteen, I had this passion for photography that nothing else ever seemed to be able to successfully take me away from. I kept trying to give it up; I kept trying to not have it be a part of my life and interestingly, it was the fact that I continued to take pictures that enabled the monastery to be built.” – Nicholas Vreeland

He has the most impeccable taste; it was unusual taste and a little bit flamboyant. He was the boyfriend of the most glamorous women, and everybody loved him. But Nicky was not connected to that very glamorous life, he didn’t buy into it.


Vreeland’s photo of Khyongla Rinpoche, his spiritual teacher.

Nicholas has had quite a few photographic exhibitions around the world but his most recent will open this month in an exhibition at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens titled Return to the Roof of the World: A Photographic Exhibition by Nicholas Vreeland. His compelling photographs in this exhibition feature a horseback voyage that he took with Khyongla Rinpoche, his spiritual teacher, to record the landscape and the lifestyle of the Dagyab District in eastern Tibet, upon Rinpoche’s first return to his birthplace in 50 years. He makes use of his skills as a photographer to chronicle his journeys.

This series of black and white photographs documents Nicholas Vreeland’s 2003 trip. The photographs Nicholas took during this voyage to the “Roof of the World” capture moments of longing and reunion, and record the landscape and lifestyle of Dagyab district in eastern Tibet. It is an exhibition that deeply touches the heart.

“You are being introduced to these enlightened people. You are entering another world that I’ve had the privilege of entering,” Vreeland describes.

The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens are located in West Palm Beach, Florida at 2051 S. Flagler Drive and are open Wednesday thru Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm.


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