The Buddha Project – by Photographer Josh Bulriss

New York photographer Josh Bulriss embarked on a project to capture some of the most beautiful, striking Buddha statues in the world. Here he shares a few of his favourite photographs from the collection and tells us why he chose this particular subject.

Bagan, Myanmar. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

The Buddha Project is a photographic journey seeking the most beautiful and unique Buddha statues in the world.

Buriram, Thailand
Buriram, Thailand. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

A 6,000-mile journey through Asia

I’ve spent a quarter of the last decade in Asia travelling and photographing things that brought me peace. In that time, the project slowly evolved into me learning and becoming more interested in Buddhism.

Vat Phou, Laos
Vat Phou – a Khmer Hindu temple complex located in Champasak, Laos. The surviving structures date back to the 11th to 13th centuries. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

Being in these ancient places and photographing timeless statues really brings me such joy and peace. My mother (Susan Bulriss) passed away in September 2014. She was one of my biggest supporter and fans, always pushing me to follow my heart. She would want me to do this project and be out there following my biggest dreams. So, I came up with the idea for the Buddha Project. I didn’t think it had ever been done – at least not in the way that I planned to do it.

Gal Vihara Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Gal Vihara Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. A 12th-century 14-metre reclining Buddha statue carved out of granite. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.
Muang Kao Historical Park, Phichit, Thailand
Muang Kao Historical Park, Phichit, Thailand. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

This 6,000-mile journey led me through six countries – Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka – 42 cities and 19 caves.

Tham Pa Fa (Buddha Cave), Thakhek, Laos
Tham Pa Fa (Buddha Cave) in Thakhek, Laos. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.
Bagan, Myanmar
Sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

I was searching for statues with distinct textures, colours, decay or overall beauty in the surrounding.

Phra Prang Sam Yot
Phra Prang Sam Yot – also known as the monkey temple – in Lopburi, Thailand, dates back to the 12th to 13th centuries during the Khmer period. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.
Vang Xang Cave
Vang Xang Cave at Ban Phone Savang in Laos is said to date back to between the 10th and 12th centuries in the Angkor period. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

New perspectives

I’d like people to gain a feeling of peace and tranquility from my photographs, but I also want to offer a new perspective on these incredibly beautiful statues alongside inspiring people to travel and explore new and beautiful places.

Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.
Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

During this process, I learned what it takes to have an idea go from conception to reality. Having a project with a strategic focus was very helpful to achieving my goals. I learned how important it is to never give up on my dreams. I also learned that I had a tremendous amount of support from the people who wanted to see me become successful with this project. I did crowdfunding to help make this project possible and I had no idea of the amount of people who believed in me and what I’m so passionate about – this was the best feeling of all.

Shwezigon Temple, Bagan, Myanmar
Shwezigon Temple in Bagan, Myanmar. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.
Datdawtaung Cave, Myanmar
Datdawtaung Cave, located just outside Mandalay, Myanmar. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

My favourite image from the collection is the buried Buddha statue in Shwe Indein Pagoda in the village of Indein, near Inle Lake in Shan State, Myanmar. The only way to reach this statue is by taking a boat down shallow canals. A beautiful journey that’s well worth taking.

Shwe Inn Thein Pagodas of Indein, Myanmar
Shwe Inn Thein pagodas of Indein, Myanmar. Most pagodas in this area are from the 17th to 18th centuries, but this one dates back to the 14th century. Image credit: Josh Bulriss.

About Josh Bulriss:

Photographer Josh Bulriss
Photographer Josh Bulriss. Image credit: James Bogue.

A passionate devotion to capturing the core of culture has driven New York photographer Josh Bulriss to wander the world. Josh has lived in many different places and craves getting off the beaten path. His ultimate goal is to enhance his viewer’s awareness of the everyday beauty that this world has to offer with a thread of ‘inner peace’ that runs through his work. Josh lives by the mantra, ‘the world is my studio’.