In the 9th century Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, accompanied by his consort, the great and miraculous dakini Yeshi Tshogyel. Yeshi turned herself into a pregnant flying tigress and Guru Rinpoche rode on her back to the Tiger's Nest Cave on the cliffs high above Paro Valley.
While photographing the students of the 14th-century Tenchen Choeling Gatshel Buddhist Nuns College across the Paro Valley from the Tiger's Nest, I met another Yeshi Tshogyel. She is second from left in this photo with her friend, Lheki Tshomo, holding her arm. The light was beautiful as I posed the young women on the temple stairs, but they were nervous and tense. Living cloistered lives for years without cameras or cell phones, they weren't accustomed to being photographed. I took out my notebook, made a sketch of the composition, and asked for their names. When I got to the second nun and she told me her name was Yeshi Tshogyel, I replied, "Yeshi Tshogyel! Yeshi Tshogyel! You must be Guru Rinpoche's girlfriend!" That cracked them up and I got the photo I wanted.