Picture this: Making the world better, one photo at a time

Los Angeles Times Travel editor

Peter Leung is working to make the world a better place, and thanks in part to Los Angeles Times readers, his resources for doing good works will go a little further.

Leung, of Monterey Park, is the photographer who shot the above photo that ran on the front of the Sept. 19 Travel section and on our compilation on the website. He had taken particular care in composing this photo, arising at 5 a.m., bringing along his tripod and shooting numerous frames.

When we spoke with him, he was especially excited about its publication because, he said, he was just getting ready to celebrate his 80th birthday and his 47th wedding anniversary.

After the photo appeared, several readers wrote and called, asking for a copy of the photo, and Leung has been happy to oblige. He charges nothing for the photo but does ask for a donation for his charitable work in China. He travels there two or three times a year and makes a habit of giving away money to ethnic minorities who live in more remote regions of China. His is not a charitable organization but rather his giving is based on his perceived needs of the people he meets.


“The money is not tax deductible,” he said in a phone interview. “You have to trust that I will give the money to people. I am only the courier.”

But, he added, “I think God is watching us all the time. God knows whatever we do.”

One reader who requested a copy of the photo was so moved by Leung’s works for the poor that he donated $300 for his copy of the photo.

Leung doesn’t know to whom the money will be distributed, but he does know that it can make a difference. On one visit, he ran into a grandma sitting outside a hut. “She looked really sad,” he said, “and when we asked what had happened, she told our guide that her grandson had fallen and broken his leg.” Because there was no money for a doctor or hospital, he’d had no medical treatment and was lying in the hut and in pain. Leung never knew the boy’s name, and he doesn’t know precisely what happened after his visit there. But he does hope the boy’s suffering was alleviated.

“I love China, and I love to help the poor people,” said Leung, a Hong Kong native who has known bad times. His family fled during the Japanese invasion of China and was on the run from the time he was 9 or 10 until he was about 13. “We moved every two or three months,” he said. “We never unpacked.”

Nowadays, it is the love of travel that keeps him on the move—and the desire to find the beauty in a world in which it is sometimes absent.