US Diplomat “Connects the Dots” in Sri Lanka Through an Eye of a Camera

Text and Pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Chris Elms, the young Press and Information Officer attached to the US Embassy in Colombo had been doing more than his diplomatic job in Colombo.


Captured in Yala

He has been busy learning about the country he made his temporary home for two years, and busied himself with capturing the beauty and diversity he discovered during his travels throughout the Indian Ocean island on film.

Chris Elms

Chris Elms~Pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Connecting the Dots” his solo exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the American Center, Colombo is all about those captured and stored images he wanted to share with his friends and colleagues. There are 25 colour and black and white photographs on display and the exhibition will continue till the end of June. His photographs depict Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, natural, spiritual and ethnic diversity.

“As I explored Sri Lanka throughout my two -year period I was struck by the beauty of this country-its vibrant temples, its profound scenery, and its friendly people. Reflecting on my time here and my photography, it was impossible to identify a unified theme for such a varied place. I connected the dots and realized that Sri Lanka’s strength and beauty lies in her variety and diversity. I feel that the natural beauty of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean comes from its biodiversity, and its rich history reflects the different people who have been drawn here from near and faraway lands” says Elms.


Captured in Pinnawela

“I’ve always enjoyed photography and taking photographs. But it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I took a photography class for the fun of it to learn about photography as an art. I’ve been more seriously taking pictures for three years now, when I got my first DSLR camera. I enjoy photos that are aesthetically pleasing while also telling a story. In particular, I enjoy photojournalism that shows the world from a new perspective and prompts me to view a situation differently” says Elms.

For Elms, a young American diplomat, though not a professional photographer, photography is something he truly enjoys.

“The U.S. Government sent me here, and sends all of our diplomats here, to observe Sri Lanka on the ground and reflect on the country. I’m reaching the end of my two year assignment in Colombo, I have travelled extensively for work and pleasure, understanding this island of beauty and diversity” he notes.

Just about everywhere I go I also take my camera. And I’d like to think that I’m a keen observer of Sri Lanka. This interest in observing this country extends beyond my day today assignments as a US Embassy employee. I am driven by curiosity and I really look to capture the essence of Sri Lana – of its culture and its people.

The photographs are recognizable because I think most people can recognize the objects of my photographs – the places I have chosen to capture on film. You know Dutch Fort in Galle its colonial heritage as well as of its current multi-ethnic mosaic. and current multi-ethnic community. You know the wide variety of plants and animals found in Yala and the southern coastline which is breathtaking. I also know how much of happiness is generated in this country, simply through one sport-cricket. These photographs are rich in colour because this country is so incredibly vibrant and colourful and that is seen everywhere in the island and amongst its different people” adds Elms.

There first ever exhibition by Elms, there is every plan in his young mind to hold more exhibition in the future.


Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Christopher Teal, Press and Information Officer of US Embassy Chris Elms, and US Ambassador Michele J.Sison viewing the exhibition


Nature captured


Press and Information Officer of US Embassy Chris Elms, and US Ambassador Michele J.Sison while viewing the exhibition


Captured in Jaffna


During Cricket fever


From the southern coastal belt


Press and Information Officer of US Embassy Chris Elms and Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Christopher Teal during the opening ceremony


US Ambassador Michele J.Sison with her fellow diplomats


Press and Information Officer of US Embassy Chris Elms explaining the concept of his exhibition


Captured in Galle


Traditional sweets and savouries served at the launch of photography exhibition


Captured in Colombo


Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Christopher Teal, Press and Information Officer of US Embassy Chris Elms, and US Ambassador Michele J.Sison at the inauguration


Rituals captured on camera


Capturing nature and arts


Reactions and reflections


Capturing arts and crafts

courtesy: PassionParade ~