When first planning a visit to Mongolia, I heard often the question "why in the world would you want to go there?" Most people think there's nothing there. Instead, imagine a remote, vast land filled with green valleys, rugged mountains, old Buddhist monastaries, deep forests, along with crystal clear lakes and rivers. And better yet - you can take a drive (with your driver) and not pass another car for a day. There's everything and nothing to do.
Years ago, the first thing that drew me to the country was the idea of fly fishing for taimen - a famously large, fighting river fish. Upon more research (and later many failed attempts at the elusive taimen), we found a delightful, warm, welcoming, hospitable, traditional Tibetan Buddhism culture, with a fascinating history, and stunning landscape in a country with more livestock than people.
I have travelled to over 40 countries. Mongolia stands out as the single best location I've ever experienced as a photographer (with Rwanda, Botswana, Tibet, and Bhutan as close runners up). If it wasn't wild horses and horsemen I was capturing, it was fast moving rainstorms, ultra-dramatic landscape at every turn, a family of nomads serving us milk tea, and photographing life just as it happen. It's a photographer's dream.
I found every single day to be a completely different adventure. Perhaps it was just watching the women milk yaks, tending to baby goats or out riding horses with the nomads, rounding up the livestock.
Come travel with us. We'll show you Mongolia up close and personal. And a little more comfortable.
What type of photography is on the tour?
Portraiture, landscape, nature, and cultural.
I have in-depth experience and passion teaching all aspects of the varying styles we'll have an opportunity to shoot.
Our portraiture is real - we believe in taking portraiture which is authentic, not dressed up models. We're photographing real nomadic people in real situations. We'll be alone with the families and will be visiting ones ready and open to take photos. They will be in traditional clothing - beautiful colors and a certain rawness you can't make up.
The sky in Mongolia is unlike any sky I've seen in all my travels - it changes continually and is a show on it's own.
The vibrant culture of Mongolia is strong and well preserved - you'll find fascinating thousand year old traditions that still exist. Just observing daily life will provide you with more cultural variety than you've ever experienced.
Nature and animal lovers will appreciate the beauty of the steep valleys, snowy mountains, and green pastures that go on forever....all without fences. The landscapes are dotted with millions of yak, goat, sheep and camel, and loads of half wild horses. And the occasional day-old baby goat in your ger, which my wife loved best of all.
On the ground in Mongolia, we have a full support crew, with whom we have personal ties with, an English speaking guide, 3 drivers (two clients per car), and a cook.
From my side, we'll have myself, Todd Rafalovich, my wife, Ruth, who handles all pre and and on-ground travel logistics, and Kin, my second shooter who assists with all technical support needs during the trip.
The ideal traveler for this trip
Traveling in Mongolia requires a special kind of person. Our ideal client:
*Is comfortable with "camping - quality" sleeping. Although my wife and I never camp, we found the ger accommodations basic, and just enough. If you enjoy camping, you'll have no need to worry. We'll provide the little extras to make it a bit more comfy.
*Can go a couple of days without showering. However, we will have showers at most of our accommodations.
*Can get their hands dirty with typical outdoor life (we have lots of hand sanitizer!).
*Can go a day without electricity (although most places will have electricity). Some battery (regular US adapter) charging can be done in the cars as needed. Not a place for needing a hairdryer each morning.
*Is comfortable around livestock (goats, yak, sheep, camels, horses). It's often that a mischievous goat will roam into an unattended ger - our ideal traveler would laugh and be delighted with the situation.
*Loves dramatic scenery. Imagine Switzerland mixed in with Wyoming and Iceland. And you have it all to yourself.
*Has a sense of adventure and loves the unexpected.
*Is experienced with photography and comfortable with their camera, but want to get their photos to the next level or perhaps you need advanced help with lighting and composition.
*Is ideally familiar with Lightroom/Photoshop, but not required. Post productions techniques can be taught on the tour.
*Truly loves photography. During my last trip, I rarely put my cameras down, and while I hardly expect the same from others, we'd like to find clients with that level of passion.
*Enjoys the journey. Time stands still in Mongolia. Cliched as it sounds, it's not about getting to your next night's ger - it's about what you experience along the way.
**Non-photographing spouses traveling with photographers are welcomed and encouraged.