Nine days with 15 people, all but two complete strangers. There is only one thing I knew. We shared a passion for photography, creativity and love of adventure. This is a small insight into what I grasped of them as people in my short time with them. It is not what they do or where they are from that makes a person. It is how they look you in the eyes, the way they carry themselves in good times and bad, expressions shown when no one is looking, the tone in their voice in a given situation, their reaction to adversity, the passion that makes their eyes swell with excitement. The inner being is shown through the exterior body very carefully and cautiously. A riddle with clues sparsely and sporadically given in subtle, various settings with meticulous detail.
Calm and composed he gave off the natural, unforced confidence of a battle tested veteran. Intensely selective in his shots, he held back most of the trip. I could see in his eyes the gears turning as he created a mental map of which places he planned to return when quiet and undisturbed. If he ran into the sunset you followed as if into battle. His sure footed step would command against any trial. I kept my distance from him. His well known documentation of this place kept attention on him constantly, forcing anyone to keep up a slight facade and appearance. I watched from a distance when he finally had his own moments to see what else there was.
I felt an unspoken understanding with him. You could look at him and see that his mind was restless. Always thinking always processing something when surrounded by people. A mind that rests only in complete solitude. I know because I do that same thing. Going out of his way to please others even to the point of putting himself at risk. I analyzed his actions and decisions. Tin man was cursed with no heart. He was cursed with only heart.
A modern day Zorro with his words and appearance. He spoke and shot with poise and finesse. A fencer in his gameplay. Never going straight for the kill but patient playing it point by point. Anticipating the response and reaction, each move was strategic. A polished dance elegantly planned. I would wait for him to sleep, trying to gain some insight into him that was not contrived. Not surprising to me he is a poet and director. Setting up shots ensuring proper form and placement whether they were his or not. Ensuring the art, true poetry in motion
Young and passionate. A steed headed any direction that looked appealing as long as it was far from the beaten path. Yet wearing blinders to all else. He came with full intention to discover as much as possible and not let the boundaries of time or location stop him from going just a little bit further. His love and knowledge of the country made it evident he had been before. He seemed filled with desire to prove something. Perhaps Unfinished business from previous adventure, a regret craving closure, or tab needing to be settled. Geared up and ready to face whatever this country could throw at him, and hoping it wouldn't hold back.
She brought an exotic style and look with her. Long colorful fabrics and dresses that stood out in such uncommon yet captivating ways against the dark bold landscape. Usually carrying a calm no nonsense look about her, I made a point to test it occasionally to ensure she was just in deep thought but still light hearted behind it. She may have been foreign to distant travel but the idea was the same. Create powerful imagery from either side of the lens. And she anything but foreign to that.
Quiet, brave, patient. He walked with eyes constantly but unnoticeably scanning, waiting for his moment. You would turn to take a shot and then he was gone. Always climbing the nearest cliff he earned his shots with a respect and mutually understood appreciation for the land. A ninja in our midst, coming and going in silence, never knowing quite where he went but always confident he would emerge eventually. As the hills welcomed him a shadow or silhouette would undoubtedly rise on the sheer cliffs above.
He arrived with purpose. Never slowing, never losing focus. Taking advantage of every opportunity to capture the wonder of this country. The mindset that this was no ordinary experience and it should be slowed down in any way possible. His mind fed off what his eyes saw putting all thought of rest aside. I've always felt that way about travel. A trip has a beginning and end, when you see that end use all you have to delay its arrival. Use every last drop of sunlight knowing full well it will run dry.
Those eyes reflect her gentle unthreatening personality, her smile always warm and welcoming. Her soft voice sounded as if from the heart not the mind, wanting nothing more than to be surrounded by love. You couldn't help but feel instantly comfortable around her. Yet look at her through a lens and she had such a different disposition. The innocence faded to power, no longer welcoming but commanding. Her eyes became sharp as daggers. Frozen from shock I felt helpless to the pierce of her stare. As if I had been played so she could discover my inner being.
A young energy you couldn't help but notice. Like a firework bouncing around I would look on waiting for it to explode. I watched as he danced on the shifting rocks of sheer cliffs. Shimmied up the mountainside sure footed, giving no mind to the emptiness beneath. Fearless or maybe just reckless. Either way he had that boundless energy and passion that kept you moving. That energy reflected in his work and inspired a little risk in us all.
It took me little longer to see where he fit into the group. He was slower, more methodical. He sought out seclusion, void of distraction from himself and subject. He was my favorite person to watch shoot. The master of portraits as some called him. Each and every detail of the frame was carefully curated and planned. He didn't just see his shot he felt it, and so could I. Ensuring both perfect placement and pure, natural beauty. I wouldn't be surprised if he went so far as to time out even his breathing like that of an archer before releasing his Well placed arrow. Each detail had a thought out purpose yet never lost its raw heartfelt look.
Not many words were had with him. He spent his time going about whatever task he had set before him. Not that the company of others was discouraged or unappealing, he was just content simply being. The lone Canadian, I felt I had the same mindset when it came to solo travel. Accustomed to being alone, comfortable in silence but willing to share space and sound. His words were channeled into his work. Fully there as in us all, but expressed in such powerful ways when unspoken.
She observed and wrote from Afar. The safety and seclusion of the familiar Land Rover. We were both doing the same thing. Analyzing the group play and dynamics just from slightly difference approaches. She wanted to know the heart of each of us before trying to capture with a camera. I sought to know meaning, she sought to know the deepest meaning. What she discovered was purposefully and powerfully used in each portrait. You didn't see a body or landscape. You saw who they were.
He kept that outlook that we all seem to lose too soon. Looking at life as it should be, playful, light, full of laughter and enjoyment. People say it's hard growing up, Then we grow up to realize it's harder to stay young. Physically he was the biggest person in this trip. But his personality was the most carefree. Walking about carefree, joking and most often with that smirk. Yet his photos were such polar opposite. Matured, grown, full of life experience and deep emotion. His personality was his cover, photography was his tell.
Cheerful, careless. Here for the adventure and excitement. In awe of it all, whenever she wasn't modeling for the camera she was all smiles. Bouncing around in step and sight full of wonder and questions. All children go through the phase of questions asking "why" for everything. This country brought it out in is all, she was the only one fearless to express it in such a manor.
He's a difficult man not to like. He kept the balance between work and play. A comedian when moods needed lifting, a voice of reason when the air was think with conflict. Whatever the situation it never drained him of his outlook or attitude. His face carried a natural relaxed look, creating comfort and trust around his subjects, he captures those moments in that same look. A talent that can't be bought or forced.