After Beijing, I was taken to Inner Mongolia as a photographic ambassador. There was a photo convention there too, and myself along with some of the other foreign photographers from the Beijing round table were the guests of honor. The drive was a long but beautiful 12 hours.
The next morning a local government man who became a friend of mine over the next few days took us on a tour of his city. Being foreign guests, he was in charge of our well being and he also worked as our pseudo-translator. One of our stops included a desert area where he said, “You can photograph ships over there.”
I walked, looking for what didn’t make sense – perhaps some giant, land-locked ships deserted in the desert. But instead I saw a sheep herder and his sheep a ways off. “Oh SHEEPS!” I said in my mind. And being raised in farm country of Utah, I was less interested with photographing the sheep but instead enthralled with the sheep herder. I love faces, especially when I travel and I ran up to this man, waved, and pointed to my camera to signal that I wanted to photograph him.
I wasn’t prepared with my pro gear this morning. I thought we’d be shaking hands or something, so I was actually in my suit and only had my small Lumix LX100 point-and-shoot camera around my shoulder. But I love that camera for it’s dials and manual controls and I was quickly able to get these portraits of this man, shot just as you see them, un-cropped.
I started to understand what it meant for this city in Mongolia to have us foreign photographers visit as “photographic ambassadors.” They were proud of their city and wanted to show us everything, from museums, to farms, to their cultural heritage of schools and Buddhist temples. They fed us great food each meal and wanted us to get great images of their part of the world which they hoped we’d go show the rest of the world. All of this was seen as good publicity for their city. Plus they mentioned multiple times what a great honor it was to have all of us from so many different countries, there to visit their city in Mongolia.
At this point we took a lunch break and returned to the hotel and I was able to change into my casual clothes and refit my leather shoulder bag with my larger, pro camera gear. I was also able to go on a short photo walk around the hotel in search of some gloves as it was below freezing there and all I had packed for clothes besides a suit was a couple t-shirts and a sport coat. I found some great gloves and also captured these abstract moments.
After lunch we were taken to see a village where farmers were working. I shot so many images there. The local people heard we were coming and were dressed for a parade down their main road when we arrived.
It was quite an experience and I have a lot of those images to share coming up. But as you can see, each day was an adventure, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of this event.
Until next time, America.