My favorite photo is by no means my best. It's neither sharp nor perfectly composed. Film, not digital so the fact that I was poorly prepared to take it cannot be disguised. But it's not about perfection. It's about the experience, capturing a moment in time that I will always remember and cherish, and will never be able to replicate.
1991. Traveling through the Northwest Frontier District of Pakistan, that unruly, semi-autonomous region, which pretty much kept its distance from the rest of the world. One of the great road trips of all time, traversing the Karakorum Highway through northern Pakistan to Kashgar, China. Part of the ancient Silk Route.
We -- Khan, our urbane guide from Karachi; Linda, a Mormon nurse; Akbar, driver of our little red Civic and yours truly -- had the first of many flat tires in a rocky area ruled by Pashtuns, brothers of Afghanistan's mujahideen, who became rather famous during the decade-long Afghan-Soviet conflict. Having read about their fierce and independent culture, I had asked Khan if perchance we might visit a Pashtun community. City boy that he was, Khan dismissed that out of pocket, not because of danger as much as his disdain for these "uncivilized barbarians."
Wandering off as the men changed the tire, Linda and I came upon a group of unusually beautiful children playing around the ruins of an ancient stupa. Suddenly an angry man in traditional garb came running towards us shouting "no photo, no photo. . ." Shortly we realized he was the father and though wary of two, strange, seemingly unaccompanied western women, his anger transformed into pride as we communicated what beautiful children he had. As luck would have it, he spoke some English and soon we were invited into his home -- but just the two of us. Khan, who had appeared to see what all the shouting was about, could not enter due to purdah. He stood fuming outside the compound walls while we accompanied Nazeer, our new best friend, into an authentic Pashtun home.
During the next hour, we shared tea with Nazeer, his two wives and ten children, as well as their goats, cows and chickens. He asked us to take a family portrait in his "living room," shown above. By now his shy wives were caught up in the excitement and happily rounded up as many children as possible for the photo. Afterwards, he invited us to stay for dinner and spend the night. Reluctantly, we explained that we couldn't and we really should be getting back to our guide and driver.
A life-listing experience and the reason my twin loves of travel and photography are inextricably linked. The purpose of this blog is to share the story behind the image. Sometimes it will be a story about the people or place; other times, it will be about the art of photography. Each time, I will challenge the reader to relate their own experiences and in so doing, gain something from my exploits and learnings. What it won't do is dwell on f-stops, settings and gear. For this photographer, it truly is about seeing our world through photography, regardless of equipment and technical preferences. I hope you enjoy! Now, what are your favorite images and why?