Tagged: Tajikistan

We went on the hike this past weekend. Phe ran up the mountain, and most of the way down. He is getting stronger, we all are actually. We walked through a tiny mud village about half an hour outside of Dushanbe. There’s nothing there but red mud huts and dung pies for fuel, donkeys, dogs and hay. The village is on the side of a hill. We can see into everone’s houses, their yards, their lives. A few onions and potatoes can be seen stored in someone’s crawlspace. Everything is out in the open. There is nothing to hide, because they have nothing. Still, as we rest, a woman comes out and offers up apples from her yard. The are crisp and sweeter then the ones from the market. We take three, then walk back to the car. We take turns carrying Phe when he gets tired. Then we go home.


Self Portrait

GAZ 69

Two dorm room for Chinese Road Workers in Tajikistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital city, isn’t know for its nightlife. There are a few decent restaurants, but after nine months here my family and I are tired of going to the same six places. We’ve tried everything on every menu in town. The big movie theater in the center of town plays the most recent Hollywood blockbusters, but only in Russian. There’s a bowling alley if you are into that sort of thing, but no real bars that are safe and no young artistic intellectual scene. No Russian rock clubs that I know of. No black box theater. We are confined to a world of traded DVDs and our art. But the Chinese workers live an hour or more from Dushanbe, sleeping in bunk beds with thin pads for mattresses thrown over a wooden plank. They have a small TV set and not much else. They play cards, smoke cigarettes, and dream about how what their children back home might be doing right now.


Dushanbe River

Dushanbe is a city of contrasts. Porches whiz past Ladas, cement factories tower over bootleg DVD stores, old ladies beg in front of jewelry stores. The one thing people crave is power. Electricity lines trump family lines, smoke stacks take president over stacks of money or gold. The power to leave control others, to smelt steel, the power to shape rivers and flood valleys.

Dushanbe River

A Chinese road worker sitting in his tent, Tajikistan

I entered some photos to One Life Photography competition. Click the link to check out the slide show. These are from the Chinese worker series. Let me know what you think.

SVA changed my vision. I’ve always been a documentary photographer, but in the past I tried to use my camera to capture reality. Now I’ve come to realize that my job as a photographer is to pass my perception, my emotion, my story, on to my audience. In this case, I shot two dozen images of the Chinese road workers, but no one of them captured the spine tingling moment I felt while up there on the road with Pei. So I created it. This image represents exactly what I saw the moment I pressed the shutter on the camera. Thanks to digital, this is possible. My photography is more like writing, storytelling, non-fiction drama. I’d be happy to show you how it was done if you’d like.

Read more about the workers on Pei’s Blog

Photo Composite