Monday, September 26, 2016



Visual journeys by six photographers

Visual journeys by six photographers
 The New York Times
The appeal of the road trip, or the long through-hike, or the pilgrimage, is that the ‘‘point’’ is so deliberately minimal — to arrive at, you know, the end — and the decisions involved so banal (stop for gas now, or in a bit?) that the distinction between signal and noise is blurred. The point of a photograph of a trail, or some billboard half-seen out the window of a bus, is that it could easily be exchanged for the image taken immediately before or immediately afterward. The random sample communicates in one unpremeditated frame all the significance that particular person’s drive down that particular road could possibly contain. This is the aspiration common to road-trip literature and road-trip photography: The moment at the gas station is held, insistently, to express as much about the total experience as the shot of the Eiffel Tower.
But there remains, at least for me, a tension between the stories we tell about the road and the photographs we take along the way. When I’ve returned to things I’ve written about extended overland travel — whether a book, or travel articles, or just emails to friends — I feel settled, almost subdued, by my own accounts. Though in each case I tried to capture the miscellaneous experience of that particular interlude, the mood of each has inevitably been coerced into coherence. Yes, I think, this is how it happened, and this is what it meant, and what it will now continue to mean in retrospective perpetuity. These texts, over time, overwrote the memories from which they were drawn.
Revisiting my photographs from those same trips is dislocating in a different way. Always I find my photographs replete with remainders, pedestrian details that contradict and undermine the equally pedestrian account I committed to words. The colors are different. Drops of scarlet blood on a hard tarmac black as obsidian. An overturned brass samovar in a dingy brown train compartment. A bright alarum of pink cherry blossoms against a glass-flat cobalt sea. There is something about those moments, fugitively apprehended as they might have been, that seem to me now odd and decisive. They don’t at all seem like random samples of the ongoing. I never think, What was so special about this? I think instead, Yes, I remember now exactly what was so special about this. They mutely twitch with escaped significance. When we see what we saw, we are reminded of what was apprehended — and let go.
—GIDEON LEWIS-KRAUS, from the introduction to The Voyages Issue


Erta Ale, the most active volcano in Ethiopia. Its ever-present lava lake is one of fewer than a dozen in the world. 

The Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

My birth as a photographer took place in Africa: The first assignment I ever took was in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Danakil, a desert in Ethiopia, I felt this very real sense of nowhere, as if I were suspended in time. It is such a wild place, and feels like the heart of Africa. It’s the region where Lucy, the famous hominin, was found; it was the start of humanity, and it feels like it. But it is also such an extreme place to visit, one of the hottest in the world. You can really only go during three months of the year — between December and February — and even then it was so hot, I couldn’t do anything after the morning. I felt terrible at first, but then something happens — you get used to it. The area feels prehistoric. You have all this light: It’s white and dusty, and there becomes a kind of charm to a place without colors. But then you go a little farther from the salt plains, and the landscape becomes a psychedelic experience, all greens and reds and veins of minerals. And then there are these other moments that were very dark, almost black, because we had to arrive in the middle of the night to see the volcano. This was a visual journey, to go from white to color to dark. It’s the cycle of photography. The landscape really took me out of my comfort zone. It is an atmosphere like hell. The noise of the lava, the gurgling, is incredible. It’s one of the only countries in the world that lets people so close to the crater of the volcano. I could feel my feet burning, and at one point one of the legs of my tripod was melting from the heat of the ground. But there were moments so full of joy and so pure, like when my guide Ali ran into his friend in the middle of nowhere, this vast white desert, and they were so happy to see each other. They did the keke dance, a dance of joy. He told me that when you meet an old friend, you dance like this, with your hand in the air. It was so beautiful, because it was so unexpected.

- As told to Jaime Lowe
A caravan of mules and camels crossing the salt plain of Assal near the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. The camels will carry slabs of salt to market.
The photographer’s guide Ali, right, doing the keke dance with his friend Mohamed.
The photographer’s guide Ibrahim, right, at a cafe in the village of Afdera.
Caravans of camels and mules traveling to the Assal salt plain from the Ethiopian Plateau to get salt blocks, called amole.
Ahmed Jaber working the salt mines of Assal. Jaber can extract 100 salt tablets in a day.
Mohamed Ali, a worker on the Assal salt plain, lives in Hamed Ela, a village in Danakil near the Eritrean border.
Mebrahtu Tadesse, a salt miner at Assal.
Aisha Zainu, a mine worker.
Hailemo, a mine worker.
The geothermal area of Dallol in Danakil. Because of political instability in the region, a military escort is required to visit this part of the crater depression.
Ali, the photographer’s guide, atop a salt pillar in Dallol.
An abandoned Afar village in a patch of desert between Hamed Ela and Erta Ale.
A caravan arriving at Hamed Ela.
A hotel for itinerant workers in Hamed Ela.
A young guide near the edge of Erta Ale, with tourists in the background.
A translator, Binyam, in the doorway of one of a few stone huts along the rim of Erta Ale’s crater.
Andrea Frazzetta at the edge of the Erta Ale volcano at the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia.
Pier Paolo Giacomoni for The New York Times
Andrea Frazzetta is a photographer from Italy who has traveled and photographed extensively throughout Africa, South America and the Mediterranean.


Climbing the mountains of Krraba, not far from the capital city, Tirana.


The first time I went to Albania was in 1997, to cover the country’s riots during the collapse of financial-pyramid schemes there. I fell in love with it. It was like stepping back in time 50 years. Between then and 2000 I visited the country 13 times, always on assignment as a photojournalist for the newspaper where I worked in Denmark or for other media outlets. Last year I went back. In the meantime, I had become a really good cyclist, so when the opportunity came to do a road trip by bicycle, Albania was where I wanted to go. I wanted to see what had changed and what hadn’t. I wasn’t even sure if I could do a road trip by bicycle there, but I used a GPS app, Strava, that’s like a social network for athletes, and through that I hooked up with some of the top Albanian cyclists. They helped me plot a trip south from Tirana, to the east, with a finish in the west. My goal was to do about 60 miles a day. They helped me to figure out which roads might be really good and nicely paved or full of holes and gravel. There were a lot of both! And there were many epic climbs through the mountains. Some of the cyclists rode alongside me for a few days. One guy, a doctor, even rode with me for the whole week of my trip, through places I hadn’t been to in over a decade, places that had meant a lot to me and places I’d never been, down to the beaches on the Greek border that I was happy to see were booming with life. My goal wasn’t to make a social documentary; I wanted to make a story in pictures of a tourist’s bicycle trip through Albania. And that’s what I did.

- As told to Camille Sweeney
Atop Morava Mountain, near Korca in southeast Albania.
A bar at the beach on Lake Ohrid, in the southeast.
Endri, an Albanian doctor who rode with the photographer, near Gjirokastra. 
A beach in Dhermi, in southern Albania.
Breakfast at the Hotel Dardha, in the village of Dardha.
The photographer’s clothes drying on the roof of the Yard Paradise Hotel, in Dhermi.
Tourists on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, near Dhermi.
View from the Santa Quaranta hotel in Saranda, on the Adriatic.
Self-portrait on Route SH75.
The coastal city of Vlora.
Tourists at a beach bar in the resort town of Saranda, in southern Albania, near the Greek border.
The Adriatic Sea, near the Greek border. 
In the historic part of Gjirokastra, a World Heritage Site in southern Albania.
A food truck in Saranda. The Greek island of Corfu is visible in the background. 
Joachim Ladefoged at the Hotel Vlora International, in Vlora, Albania, after hitting the wrong light switch.
Joachim Ladefoged/VII, for The New York Times
Joachim Ladefoged is a photographer based in Denmark and a member of VII photo agency. He has contributed to the magazine since 1999.


The night sky and an oncoming vehicle near the Balladonia rest stop.

The Nullarbor Plain, Australia

The first European to cross this region, the English explorer Edward John Eyre, in 1841, said at the time that it was a “hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams.” This made me curious to go. Nullarbor means “no trees” in Latin. If you’re crossing Australia through the south, you have to go through this crazy region where the climate is really intense — it can be 120 degrees or below 0 — and the people are wired differently. I didn’t want to show the Australia we typically see: the Great Barrier Reef or the crocs or kangaroos. I wanted to do a road trip across this place where there seem to be more questions than answers. So it was just me in a rented caravan, with a little fridge stuffed with reasonably O.K. things to eat, blasting tunes, mostly classic rock; some songs I’d listen to eight, 10 times in a row, especially Led Zeppelin. I was riding this strange highway that’s both a utility road for trucks moving goods and heavy machinery and a badge of honor for tourists — the bumper stickers say “I crossed the Nullarbor.” For 12 days and 1,700 miles, making stops along the way, I met other people out there trying to find something, or get away from something, as everyone I met in the Nullarbor seemed to be.

- As told to Camille Sweeney
Early morning at the Caiguna rest stop.
A ‘‘fogbow’’ over the Nullarbor Plain in early morning near the Caiguna rest stop.
An abandoned car beside the old highway between Yalata and the Nullarbor rest stop.
Benjamin Campbell at Mundrabilla Station, his family’s cattle ranch in the Nullarbor.
Jason McIntosh travels the country in his converted bus, which he calls the Strawberry Cow. 
Jeremy Burrows near the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight at the southern edge of the Nullarbor.
Seabirds known as shags at dawn near Eucla.
Drew Richards, left, and Brooke Richards at play in Eucla while stopped en route with their family, which is relocating to Queensland. 
Indy Hayward lives and works at the Cocklebiddy rest stop along the Eyre Highway, which passes through the Nullarbor. 
Chris Anderson, circumnavigating Australia by bicycle to raise money for an organization that raises awareness of issues connected to mental illness.
Pet cemetery beside the Eyre Highway, near the Madura rest stop.
Kangaroo skeleton beside the Eyre Highway, near the Madura rest stop.
Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal men — from left, James Peel, Tim Murragilli and Tyron Wingfield — hunting game near Yalata, an Aboriginal community.
Tim Murragilli, left, and Tyron Wingfield, Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal men, look at ancient paintings in a cave on the Nullarbor in Yalata.
Early morning on the Eyre Highway.
A self-portrait of David Maurice Smith with a headlamp taken near a rest stop in Balladonia, Australia.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
David Maurice Smith is a Canadian documentary photographer based in Sydney, Australia, whose work typically explores marginalized communities and the issues they face.


The village of Kilpisjarvi, in Lapland, where tourism and reindeer husbandry are main industries.

Lapland, Finland

I was looking for a new place to go be outside in nature, and then I heard about the cloudberries of Lapland in northern Finland. Cloudberries are like some magical fruit — a tart, orange-gold berry, growing just one per stalk — that sets off an annual foraging hunt in July and August. In Finland, people are obsessed with cloudberries. Some have all these secret places they’ll go to find them — little jangat, they’re called, Finnish for “boggy areas” — that they won’t tell anyone about and that they’ll return to every year because they can find the best cloudberries there. I wanted to feel what it would be like to be part of that hunt that goes back so many generations and to be able to tromp through forests that seem as if they grew out of someone’s imagination. Northern Lapland is above the Arctic Circle and best known for its association with Santa Claus, and of course for its snowy white beauty and northern lights in the wintertime. In summer, the place is a photographer’s dream, because there’s more than 20 hours of daylight. Being there felt like being on the wild fringes of Europe. There’s open bog land, lakes and mountainlike fells where the reindeer herds roam and breed. Finland has this very cool rule called something like “Everyman’s right,” which means that anyone has the right to respectfully forage on anyone else’s property. The rule is also in Denmark, at least according to my aunt, who grew up there, where it is something like “You can take whatever you can fit in your hat!” When cloudberry season hits, the berries stay ripe for only three weeks. So people put on their big rubber boots, pack food and their kettles to make coffee and strap on their homemade knives, which they all dangle from their waists to cut whatever they need — sticks for the fire or sausage for the grill. Then everyone just drops whatever else they’re doing and piles into cars, canoes or A.T.V.s to join in the search for the elusive cloudberry.

- As told to Camille Sweeney
A birch forest in Hetta.
Mia Aitalaasko picking cloudberries outside Kilpisjarvi.
Mari, top, and Sari Keskitalo on a break from picking cloudberries.
Mari Keskitalo, 23, whose mother, Sari Keskitalo, is one of the best-known cloudberry collectors in Hetta.
Cloudberries growing outside Kilpisjarvi.
Island view of Lake Ounasjarvi, in the Hetta region. 
Charlotte de Murcia, a dog trainer at a dog-sledding expedition company, on Lake Ounasjarvi while hunting for cloudberries.
Jouni Eira, a reindeer herder, outside Hetta.
Cloudberries in Eira’s refrigerator.
A visitor at the Tundrea Resort in Kilpisjarvi.
Sauli Vanhapiha swimming in Lake Kilpisjarvi after a sauna.
Sauli Vanhapiha, right, and Jukka Feodoroff soak in a hot tub after a sauna.
Reindeer fondue.
Cloudberries and ice cream, in Jouni Eira’s home.
Mia Aitalaasko and her partner, Nils-Matti Vasara’s reindeer herd.
Kirsten Luce outside Hetta, Finland. In cloudberry season, Luce says, foragers are never without a knife. 
Jouni Eira for The New York Times
Kirsten Luce is a photographer based in New York and an adjunct assistant professor of photojournalism at Columbia University.


Aerial view of the Andes from the Lima-to-Cusco flight. 

Machu Picchu, Peru

My family comes from Uruguay, and my grandfather was an architect who developed urban communities in Latin America. He was an amateur photographer as well, and I remember, growing up, my grandmother showed me all these slides of his travels, including to Machu Picchu, on light boxes. This is why I wanted to become a photographer. My going to Machu Picchu felt like a pilgrimage — in some ways connected to my family, but also just for me. The trek gives you a sense of how big the Inca Empire was ­— it’s incredible to see a piece of this huge civilization. They managed to grow crops in different altitudes and different climates and build these villages. All the Inca trails and paths around the Andes were built to get to Machu Picchu. For seven days we didn’t see a shower, a motorbike, a plane, a cellphone. We just saw nature. About halfway through the trek, there were some thermal baths coming from the mountains. Yet the rivers are really cold, like snow. You have to get all the right clothes for many different climates — it’s freezing at night, and incredibly hot in the day. You are more with yourself. I tried to take pictures without thinking much — I just wanted to be floating. It was hard to breathe in this altitude. Your brain is not thinking properly; it operates differently. I shot in black and white as a homage to a Peruvian named Martín Chambi, an indigenous photographer who shot all around the Andes in the mid-20th century. I tried to push what he did into the contemporary landscape.

- As told to Jaime Lowe
The cathedral and main square in Cusco, Peru, the Inca capital from the 13th century until the 16th century. 
Celebrating the start of school in Cusco’s main square. 
Inca ruins at Písac, a village in the Sacred Valley.
The town of Cachora, where the photographer began his trek.
Guides eating lupini beans for lunch in the town of Cachora.
Crossing the Mariano Llamoja Pass.
Inca ruins at Choquequirao, in southern Peru.
A vendor of hats, scarves and ponchos in the village of Ccaccaccollo.
The ruins of an Inca citadel, Choquequirao.
Hikers trekking from Cachora to Chiquisca Camp.
The Peruvian Andes.
Porters and cooks bathing in the White River.
Porters and hikers crossing the Apurimac River at Playa Rosalina Camp.
The village of Yanama, in the Peruvian Andes.
The Temple of the Condor at Machu Picchu.
Tourists at Machu Picchu’s sacred plaza.
Machu Picchu, built for the Inca emperor Pachacuti in the 15th century on a mountain ridge almost 8,000 feet above sea level.
Sebastián Liste, in the foreground, midway on his trek along the Abra San Juan Pass, in Peru.
Jesus Quispe for The New York Times
Sebastián Liste is a photographer based in Brazil and Spain specializing in documenting social and cultural changes in Latin America and the Mediterranean.


On the path from Logroño, Spain, to Nájera.

Camino De Santiago, Spain

The rumored discovery of the tomb of St. James, the apostle to Christ, in northwestern Spain around 814 was especially miraculous because it almost immediately lured men and money east of the Pyrenees into an Iberian Peninsula that had been overrun by Muslim invaders. These forces had conquered everything but a ribbon of hardscrabble land across the north. In time, that barren pilgrims’ route accumulated layers and layers of history. The monks of Cluny, whose monasteries eventually dotted the trail, discovered that people in motion caused a godsend of new funds, later known as a tourist economy. The road was a 500-mile stage for traveling rhapsodes and juglares, whose songs were written down as “The Poem of the Cid” and “The Song of Roland.” It also served as a walking prison, as judges handed down pilgrimages in lieu of criminal sentences. Over the centuries, the route became one of the premier walks on earth — still up there today with the Incan trek to Machu Picchu, climbing Mt. Fuji or the Appalachian Trail. Its medieval reputation as a singular quest, as opposed to the main competition back then of Jerusalem and Rome, compelled Dante to write that “none is called a pilgrim save he who is journeying toward the sanctuary of St. James” — a notion that has offered any troubled serf, whether harried by feudal agriculture or an iPhone, the chance to discover how the bipedal drudge of a pilgrim’s daily pace gives way to a kind of shedding, literal and otherwise, so that in time what the person sees is not an epiphany or a vision but an occasional glimpse of a self buried long ago beneath layers and layers of history. This spring, the photographer Raymond Meeks walked the road to find an unlikely connection between his own physical pace on the ground and what he saw through his lens. “I had been doing a lot driving and photographing — looking for details that would draw most of us in, sucker shots really, that would stop any passerby,” Meeks told me. “So I wanted to walk and enter a rhythm where you see something that you normally would not encounter when moving at a faster rate. I wanted to give attention to those places and make pictures birthed not so much by a detail in the landscape as an interior feature, more where I was at the moment, so that the exterior picture becomes more an image of an interior landscape.”

- By Jack Hitt
Vineyard prunings being burned along the road from Logroño to Nájera. 
Gabriel de Courville, left, from France, and Tilman Schepke, from Germany, met along the Camino.
On the path from Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
In Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
In Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
An albergue, or a hostel for pilgrims, in León.  
A woman signals a fellow pilgrim on the trail just outside the tiny village of O Cebreiro, Spain.
Along the path from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro.
The pilgrims’ Friday-night Mass at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
Raymond Meeks on the Camino between Nájera and Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Adrianna Ault for The New York Times
Raymond Meeks is a photographer based in the Catskills in New York. He is working on a forthcoming series of collaborative journals under his publishing imprint, “Dumbsaint.”