Monthly Archives: July 2004

earning my screen name (itinerantphotog)

note: my screen name was once itinerantphotog

Shopping makes me nervous. So many beautiful colors and patterns that, if purchased, would require that I buy more to match properly. I get so flustered that I have to put down the pack of $2.50 hair clips I kind of needed and leave the store. It’s so much happier and lighter to buy nothing, and so much less to carry home.

Not so with the flash bracket, yet another photo investment that had to be done this week. I leave for Central Asia on Thursday, which is what has driven me into the stores. Before a trip I realize that my frustration with consumer overload here will be replaced shortly with the frustration of few options at all. With the exception of books, this seldom bothers me. I’m all too happy in a few comfortable, casual outfits and a handmade calendar. But this time I’m planning these outfits well because I’m not working with tourists this time, and Central Asians, like Russians, like to dress. I cannot embarrass my dear friend and host, Guka.

I did my best, but managed only the flash bracket. At least I’ve an idea of what’s out there. I’ll go home tonight and pack everything and work out what is really most needed from there. And still gifts to buy for my friends. The two weeks before a trip make my heart crackle.

In Uzbekistan, I’ll visit Ulugbek, Gulnara and Nasibulla. I’ll give a lecture to a NGO on photography with specifics in social problems, specifically in the interest of Muslim women. I may also photograph a center for women who have attempted self-immolation. I’ve overbooked my week there with the expectation that something will fall through.

Then I move on to Almaty, Kazakhstan where Guka will host me for two weeks. I’m meant to photograph a center for disabled children and possibly an AIDS clinic a few hours outside Almaty. I got a lot of amazing requests in Kazakhstan, like an archaeological dig and a ecotourism org set in a gorgeous mountainous region. KZ is almost four times the size of Texas, so I simply can’t be jaunting off everywhere I’d like. I’ve only two weeks in Kazakhstan and I’m not happy when I move too fast. I’m also teaching yoga in a women’s center there, so my time is, ah, where is my time?

My biggest fear about this trip is that I will be too busy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and that is because I have time to think and be and do what is important to me. How I will manage time to visit, to shoot, to write, to do yoga, to teach yoga, to read and, most prudently, to absorb the experiences, I do not know. Will I edit the photos there? I should—that’s the beauty of digital.

From Kazakhstan, Guka, some friends and I will go on to Lake Issykul in Kyrgyzstan. Here I’ll shoot centers for the elderly, craftmakers, and possibly a cheese factory that has some sort of humanitarian bent. An excellent Kyrgyz woman there read on my site that I teach yoga and asked me to teach a retreat there. Why not?

Enough of the itinerary details, as few of you have any care about where these places are, anyway. You should know that the five ’stans of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) that were once part of the Soviet Union are east of Iran, north of Afghanistan, west of China, and south of Russia.

It’s time to pack.