Summing up my trip and some ideas for the new year


My Eastern Europe trip’s over. For the first time in a long while I am actually happy that a trip has ended. Perhaps it’s because I am still not completely home, but in Belarus, and in some way the journey is still continuing.

My incredible bad luck continued on the Poland to Belarus road. I had my first ever car crash of a sort when I went over a pile of snow, slightly lost control of the car and then totally lost control when I pushed the brakes (not the best idea to push the brakes). Luckily there was one of those barriers along the highway that separates lanes from each other, that’s what the car hit, first with the front bumper then after sliding and doing a 180° turn, with the back.

We weren’t going too fast and there was almost no traffic, so we ended up unscathed and didn’t collide with anyone else. The car looked…interesting, I regret not taking photos of it now, but Tanya and I were too busy gaffer-taping the front bumper on, in – 13 C weather.

We somehow made it over the border the next day. After seeing the gaffer-taped bumper, the Belarusian border patrol jokingly asked “Is that a bumper from a BMW or yours?”. The customs people felt so sorry for us they didn’t even bother going through the trunk (which doesn’t open anymore anyway).

The important thing is that we made it back in one piece. I guess there is the argument that we were really unlucky, because of all the things that happened along the way, but on the other hand no one even thought it was possible to go to Romania and back in our little 25-year-old Volkswagen Golf. Go figure.

After spending a few days in Minsk, one of my least favorite cities in the world, we decided to go visit some friends in another city. That’s when the car died again on us. I didn’t bother fixing it this time, simply got a hire-car and drove off to Braslav, the region I passionately spoke about numerous times on my blog.

Driving in winter, especially when there are sudden weather changes is a nightmare. From the icy roads to giant puddles, it’s tough and dangerous. I’d be happy to lie low for a few days and that’s exactly what I’m doing in a friend’s countryside house (that’s a picture of it at the top of the post and those are his “pets” below). Just me Tanya, nature and my computer. 🙂 In reality I have a lot of work to catch up on and I hope that’s what I can do, while getting some peace and quiet that was missing during the constant movement around Eastern Europe.


New year is approaching and I already have plenty of exciting plans. Coming back to Braslav in the summer is one idea. It is an amazing region and perhaps my journey around the rest of Eastern Europe made me realize just how special it is.  In many ways it’s still virgin, unspoilt, a little wild even. To wander around the villages here is absolutely fascinating and often heartwarming and the natural beauty is unlike anywhere else.

I’m thinking that it may be worth doing a workshop in Braslav or perhaps even trying something new with the good friend I’ve made here (the one whose house I’m staying in) – a guided photo tour of a sort. It’ll be for those who are more comfortable with their photographic abilities and simply want to have an amazing photographic experience, rather than learn a standard workshop. If anyone thinks it’s a good idea, drop me a line or leave a comment on the blog.

Two personal trips which are close to happening:

Another trip to Indonesia and yet another trip to India. I want to buy underwater housing for my Canon 5D MKII and shoot stuff on fishermen in Indonesia. The last time there were just too many times when I was kicking myself for not having some sort of casing.

The India thing is well, India calls and when it calls you go. It seems to be calling me at least once a year, but hey, I still have only just scratched the surface of what can be done there. I’ve got a few particularly exciting things planned, but I won’t reveal too much just yet.

I like to make plans for the future, actually, it’s more like dreaming up things and then working to make them happen. It’s an amazing feeling when you realize that you are living a dream, but it all starts with nothing more than a thought, an idea. I think it’s important to have those plans/dreams, not only for photographers, but for anyone. Make those dreams achievable and then really work to realize them. It’s sort of what I’ve been doing, without having any particular idea of how to make things happen, I simply make them up, dream and somehow everything falls into place, the important thing is to set those goals for yourself. I guess the clichéd yet encouraging and true thing to say is that – if I made it happen, so can you. 🙂

So I guess before I end this blog post I’d like to ask; what are your photographic plans/dreams for the next year?

Happy new year folks! 🙂

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8 Responses to “Summing up my trip and some ideas for the new year”

  1. Marc André Pauzé Says:

    Good to know that you and your wife made it safely after that accident. As a ER health professional in Quebec, I know the drama that winter driving can bring.

    As for my plan, I will work on another phase of my project in Native (amerindian and inuits) communities.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

    Marc-André Pauzé

  2. Scott Sporleder Says:


    I have been following your blog for quite sometime but have never commented. Must say that I am huge fan of your work, especially your study on Kawah Ijen. Fascinating.

    Anyways, thought I would drop you a line regarding purchasing a water housing. I wanted to buy a housing for my 5d two years ago for a trip to India but had no clue where to start. I had the grand idea to shoot from in the water in the Ganges, however it didn’t work out to well (waters not the cleanest as your know) but the housing did and is still ticking. I bought it from a guy named Erik who runs Del Mar Housings, he’s a great guy and have been more than pleased with my housing.

    Hope that helps, take it easy and good luck with the rest of your journey.


  3. Ankur Says:

    Hi Mitchell,

    Braslav in the summer sounds fantastic, it will be a feast for photography! I am in Poland now and I am interested to join (my schedule allowing).

    I would suggest you do India towards the last quarter of 2010. I will be back there by then, the weather will be good, it will be festival time and I have some ideas of where you could go! 🙂

    Till then take care, Ankur.

  4. Stephen Perks Says:

    Hi Mitchell,
    Sorry to hear of your vehicular misfortunes!
    We have had it quite rough here in the North East of Scotland over the last couple of weeks and a couple of years ago I trashed a car, trapped upside down in it for a few minutes so I can understand how nerve racking your drive must have been!

    As for me, I’m all fired up after reading David duChemins’ last two books and 2010 is the year I am going to make things happen. Change of direction into photography for the music industry, new website etc. coming soon and busy working for free/next to nothing to build a portfolio and gain those much needed credentials.

    If there’s one thing that sticks out for me in 2009, it is that you taught me how to use the adjustment brush in Lightroom!

    Safe journey home and remember there’s a copy of Amateur Photography magazine waiting for you when you eventually get back to Oz!

    Happy shooting

  5. Mitchell Says:

    Marc: Your project sounds real interesting. Got a link to what you’re shot so far? Had a brief look at your site (I’ve got a crappy connection here) some nice work you have.

    Ankur: Yeh, Braslav will be nice in Summer for sure. There’s no shortage of ideas for India and I do plan to be there closer to the last quarter, when the monsoons finish.

    Stephen: Good luck with “making things” happen. It ain’t gonna be easy, but the important thing is to start working towards your goal. I find that along the way things never usually turn out as expected, but as long as the result is what you want, doesn’t matter. I’ve been forgetting to thank you for sending the copy of AP. My parents told me they received it a while ago. Thanks a lot and I’m glad you got useful info from the eBook.

  6. Enche Says:

    Hi Mitchell, when will you go to Indonesia? Hopefully we can meet there.

  7. Marc André Pauzé Says:

    Thank you Mitchell for your mark of appreciation on my work. As for myself, I find it very stimulating and inspiring to look at your owns.

    Here’s a link where you can see what I have done so far.

    As you can imagine, this is not an easy task, as Amerindians had a long history of having been rooked and manipulated by white peoples. Some topics (as sexual abuse and violence) require long months of relation building before having access to this kind of intimacy.



  8. Julien Dorol Says:

    Hi Mitchell,
    Happy that you made it back to your starting point with your old car and safe. I just imagine you and your wife gaffer taping the bumper…just remind me when I travelled around NZ with a 20 yo Nissan Vanette. ‘was kinda tired fixing things each 200km. But now I just remember this trip and realize that I really enjoyed it even if car issues made this trip difficult.

    I’m sure after some time and reflexions you’ll remember this journey as a good one.

    Did you shoot some story like in indonesia? Will you publish it somewhere?

    I’ve a lot of things planned for 2010…maybe too many.
    First, I need to catch up on the work I’ve done in Nepal last months, and make a brand new website. In the same time, I’ll go crazy shooting ski and other mountain stuff for at least 4 months.
    Then I’ll go back to travel photography but In my home country for this summer. France is an amazing country and I need to go deeper in the different cultures that you can find here. I’ll even shot some documentary next to my door as I live in mountain and farming area. There some amazing people and landscape around. I wonder what kind of amazing pictures you’d take if you ever travel here? I’d love to see it one day 😉

    As autumn in france make me real seek ( 🙂 ) (‘can’t go trekking ’cause it’s so rainy, and the snow is still no here) I plan to go back to Nepal for couple of month.

    I wish you and Tania the best for 2010. Keep making us dreaming mate and see you around

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