Yaqui Yamdrok

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I guess you could say I became a photographer by accident! As a young woman, I was an actress. One November my friend, and fellow actor, Bob called to tell me about a job. The next day, I was thrilled to land a job working as one of Santa’s elves in Macy’s Department Store in New York City. The job was easy: I had to wear an elf costume and greet children and their parents when they came to have their photo taken with Santa. I was responsible for keeping the line moving and making sure kids didn’t start crying when it was their turn for the photo. On my first day on the job, my supervisor handed me a camera. I had never really taken photos before and I was too stunned to say anything. So, I started taking pictures. One night Bob and I were leaving our shift and he commented, “Yaqui you’re a pretty good photographer.” At first I thought he was teasing me but I looked into his eyes and saw that he was serious. “Why do you say that?” I asked. “Well, it seems to me that you always get a good picture of the kids. You just seem to know when to take your shot.” My introduction to photography ended on December 25, and I went back to focusing on more traditional acting jobs. In 1966, I was cast in an off-off Broadway play. I had studied method acting which teaches actors to immerse themselves in a role. My character had a pet turtle so I went to the pet store on 23rd Street and bought Mullan. (see photo on side). Mullan is 35 years old. Her playful antics were so adorable; I started painting pictures of her. Then I bought an inexpensive Instamatic camera to take pictures of her. One of my other passions is travel. In 1974 I went to Mexico and took my camera. Over the years, I have visited many fascinating places including Singapore, Holland, Italy, Thailand, Greece, Shrilanka, India, Ladakh (which borders Tibet), Nepal, and Sikkim. When I travel I go by myself and take lots of photography equipment. I take two cameras and several lenses, 30 rolls of film for each month and as little clothes and “stuff” as possible. I love to photograph things that capture my attention. One of my photography teachers, Eva Rubenstein, said, “Every picture a photographer takes is a self-portrait.” It’s never boring to see the world through a photographer’s eyes because you never know when you’ll discover your next photo opportunity. The way the sun’s light reflects upon the water, a child’s smile, or an interesting building. I love old things–old people, old sidewalks, old buildings. It warms me. One night I was traveling in Ladakh and there was no electricity in town due to a blackout. I was staying in a guesthouse outside of town and found my way back in the pitch black. I stumbled and fell down a stairwell. I looked at my arms and saw open wounds. I had compound fractures in both arms. I had to take a plane to Delhi for surgery and there was only one plane each day. While I was sitting in the airport waiting for the plane, a woman noticed my bandages and offered to help. When we got to Dehli she called the hospital and arranged to put my cameras in the American Embassy since I could not carry anything. I was in the hospital for one week and then returned to Ladakh where I took pictures with the one hand that could move. My broken arm didn’t stop me from doing what I love. I stayed on the vacation until the end.


Mullan has a fun-loving personality. We’ve been together for 35 years. She’s the reason I bought my first camera back in 1966. Fun Activities to Do: Write a caption or essay about this delightful turtle. What is she doing? What is she saying? What is she thinking?

Row Boats

I love the water and swim several times each week. There is such a dreamy quality about all of these boats gently rocking together in the late afternoon sun. Fun Activities to Do: Write a caption or essay about these row boats. How does this photo make you feel? Who uses these boats ? Where are they? Go on an adventure in an imaginary boat


Clean clothing drying in the fresh air reminds me of a summer day in the country with clothes drying in the sun. Fun Activities: Write a caption or essay for this photo. How does this photo make you feel? What senses does this photo arouse? How does the laundry smell? The grass? How does the wind feel? Is it cold or warm? What is she thinking about?