Thursday Feb 09, 2023
Ep 55 - How Ina Grischau seek uncomfortable path to find and experience to find a disappearing culture during her travel
Hey Wicked Hunters,
I'm excited to share another week of podcast-sharing artist journey and the inspiration behind their experiences.
This week we have Ina Grischau. She is an artist from Germany, she creates fine art photography through solo off-grid travels in search of connections and stories.
On a journey to Nepal in 2015 she got a brand new camera and had pictures of towering mountains and secluded towns in her mind. The connection woven in those 5 weeks is influencing her work today and has formed her as a creator, explorer and storyteller. A few months later she continued to search for the perfect shot in a two-year world travel around central Asia, south and east Asia, Hawaii and West Coast Canada.
You can find more of her work on:
- Spotify - http://bit.ly/twhspotify
- Apple Podcast - https://bit.ly/Theartofphotography
- Google Podcast: https://bit.ly/TheArtOfPhotographyWithStanleyAr
- Website: podcast.thewickedhunt.com
- Tune In (Alexa) - https://bit.ly/TuneInTheArtOfPhotographyPodcastWithStanleyAr
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Don't forget to let us know your favourite part of the Podcast in the comment below and subscribe
For a whole week journey just to go to reindeer herders in nowhere, like literally in nowhere, I needed to take a horse at the end for multiple days to visit those people. And it was like one of the best experiences on my journey in Mongolia. So,
but to experience this kind of, of outstanding things, you need to do outstanding stuff, you, you know, you need to be aware that there is no comfortable that lighting for you. Be happy if the ground is soft, kind of. Yeah, and
Hey Wicked Hunters Welcome back to The Art of Photography podcast, where we share artist journey and how photography given us hope, purpose and happiness. And today we have someone who you will enjoy, you know, listening to she have so much positivity, so you have so much energy. And actually, one of the reason that I want her to come into the podcast is not only because of her photography, but also because this energy. So in our Welcome to the Art of Photography podcast, you know, I really appreciate having you here.
Thank you for this lovely introduction. And thank you so much. I can give it right back to you. I told you before, like, I love your energy, too. And this was one of the things where I straightaway said yes, let's do it. And I'm so excited about the recording right now. Yeah, let's do it.
Ah, yeah, no, that's fantastic. You know, like, I see a lot of your work. And there is a lot of different things that I want to ask them as you and I know, you have this top secret project coming up as well, that you've been working on. And I'm gonna say like, it's, it's incredible. I am very intrigued when you give that introduction, but we will not going to reveal it just yet. Because it's top secret. And we'll see right, people who stay till the end, I can get the benefit and the bonus of getting to know that. But first of all, before we even get started into the top secret project, which we're not going to talk about. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Right? How, how do you you know who you are? And how do you get into photography?
Sure. So my name is in Angular. So I'm from Germany, or German born? I'm also living in Germany again. Like, how did I got into photography? It's like a very difficult question. Because like many of us experience like, in their childhood already, like picking up a camera, you know, like, the film cameras pointed to just go and take some pictures. I remember that I did that, like kind of a lot. And when I compare it, especially in retro perspective to my friends, back then, I was always the person doing the most pictures and finding angles or like faces, you know, in my friends with nobody else that like, I got a film back. And usually the feedback I got was like, how did you do that? You know, like, and, yeah, at this point, you know, you never realise that you have like, a certain kind of way to see the world around you, or like to capture it in a different way. And it's kind of gets got a little bit lost. Like I always have this passion and the love for photography, but I never like was, oh, I should be become a photographer. You know, like the step was never, never really there. Like it was never a question or something. So, and on top, sorry, it just and I'm tall. I'm very rgsl Like, I'm drawing along. I'm painting and stuff like this. So people know me from that side as well. And they know like, I'm kind of this creative person. So they're like, oh, yeah, this photography, this goes hand in hand. So at one point, like I think the breaking point was 2015 when I was going to having a bigger travel, it was my first time visiting Nepal. And I didn't have any plan and there was like this big earthquake as well there and it was like kind of a messy travel travel as well. So what I did was a board especially for that in camera. It was the iPhone 6000 from Sony, so I didn't have much money back then. So I bought this camera, but I bought a good lens actually about the size visit and went over there and actually my first kind of travel photography Like, over there. So I did like every everything of photography I did took, like landscape photography, I did, like real travel things, and so on and so on, like I really experimented around. And then I came back. And I was like, I remember I was looking at this pictures. And the first thing I noticed was, I was so disappointed. You can't really imagine I looked at this pictures and had like some in my mind. And I saw from the back screen of my camera, I was like, This must be a really good picture. And I opened it up on my laptop, I was like, Oh my God, what did you do? You know, I made the first bigger mistakes with a mirrorless camera, I had a lot of tasks on my sensor, I had a lot of tasks on my lens, and so on and so on. And you make all those mistakes. And, you know, like, you don't have the right shutter and aperture at the first time you you go out and take the camera with you. So I saw immediately something is wrong with my photography on it like a technical kind of ways. And I started working on it. And yeah, 2017 I went back to Nepal on a longer journey. Actually, that's when you didn't start it in Nepal, it started in, in Russia, in Ekaterinburg. And from there I took a train over to all the way to the Lake Baikal. And then I went over to Mongolia to down to China, Beijing. And then from Beijing, I went all the way to Lhasa or by train, and then I flow over actually to Nepal again, and stayed there three months. And on this long, long, long journey, which is like, sponsored TOEFL. I was actually photography for the house, taking pictures, to all the things that are happening around me and I drifted more and more in the direction of taking landscape photography. And yeah, actually, that was the stone which got rolling at that point, you know, and from from there on, I still had one and a half years more, which I travelled around the world. And then I came back here to Germany and settled kind of in again. And then focus more on becoming like a better photographer. And I would say this year, especially in the beginning of this year, when I entered the NFT space, big drift has happened once more. Like back then when I went on a travel and I went outside of the of my own world. And I started photography things, which were not normal to me, let's say it like this, like he don't regularly stand in a desert in Munich. Right? So I discovered that through the NFT space, and the people I met here that there is like a lot of things around me and a lot of beautiful spots, which I can take pictures of. And there is like something which hold me back before that time. I was I'm not a big fan of over run and over. Yeah, expose the places, you know, like, the hinter Z, for example. Or, like, there's not only Hinton z, but there are like so many spots around here in which are like, just so I I know a gentleman very, I don't know how to translate an English, but like, there's so much so many people went there and took exactly the same picture or like so slightly different. So that I didn't want to go there and do just a slightly different picture. I was never seeing the sense in this kind of thing. And with this year, i i and we went to many places of those, which I just mentioned and I took pictures which were slightly different than other people take it and I found joy in it. It's so crazy but you go to these places and they are amazing. So the reason why so many people take pictures there is because these places do have some kind of magic and ad right they are just beautiful. You go there and you're just like wow, and then you can you can immerse yourself in it and then you start taking pictures and then you try to make your own fingerprints on this kind of picture. So it's it was really challenging but there I learned a lot not on the technical side but more on the creative side to find my own voice in pictures. And I would say I'm I did learn Hello, I'm so happy and thankful to find this NFT space to actually have learned that sides, you know, like before that one was missing. And I don't say I didn't have a creative voice before that I can more directed knowingly in a certain area I am in. So before I was in an area and I took a picture, but now I know like, Okay, I have like this kind of story I want to tell through that place or from that place, and then I can direct that now, way better and way faster. Yeah. Sorry, very long
text. No, no, thanks for sharing that. And, you know, we have a really similar like, start as well, like, I started in 2018. And the reason why I got into photography was the same thing I went into, I think I went to Euro. And I look at, I took a whole bunch of shots. And when I got back home, I was like, wow, like, not a single good shot. Right, you know, you just crawling to to your camera and your phone. Of course, most of most of the photo that I took that time was on the phone. So yeah, that was that was really the turning point of my photography in your and how I got immersed in photography, but I really draw a parallel in. And, you know, I now I know why, like, you know, a lot of Nepal photos, and you're very connected with Nipah. Because of that reason. I mean, yes. You know, to be duly honest, that was the other thing that really draw me into your work is that, you know, I just returned from Annapurna Circuit this year, earlier this year. So when I saw an Apollo it was like, wow, like, you know, that's cool. Like I said, that's the place that I haven't gone yet, but I want to be in, but you know, like, you have this, you have this energy, right? And you you I know that photography, given that energy to, to be passionate and to be energetic and to be positive. So, you know, I want to know, what is the most excited things about photography that make you you know, the way you are today? Oh, that's a difficult question. That question, by the way, so.
So, how did I would say that photography is a way of speaking or showing other people what I see and what I experience, especially, like, lots of my journeys, especially the very long one was also very lonely one no, like, I left behind all my friends and all my family, like, for two years, I didn't, I didn't see many of those people and only, like, some parts online. And it's, I think when I take those pictures, it's, it's like, they are there with me, like, at least in a retros perspective, I can show them this places and kind of live through it with with the feedback of them, you know, and even if they're not there in that moment, it's, it's maybe a way for me to actually still have them with me and, and like at least in a in a later state. And I also noticed that from for me, especially colours and light, I mean light is always a topic and colours, those sorts of kinds and sounds kind of to dairy. But for for me colours need to look kind of tasty. That sounds a little bit funny, but it's it's like it is it's like the emotion I need to have an Asiya colour, it needs to look like I want to eat it. Okay, it's very strange to say that, but I noticed also there is like something when, when different, you know, like taste and looking and hearing and stuff, it can like kind of overlap. And I think colours in pace kind of overlap for myself. So it's like I'm seeing a cake or something in front of me. So if a colour doesn't look like a cake, it's not good. And I'm still tweaking it a little bit. So I kind of like it very much. And yeah, it sounds funny, but it's where I want to go. And then again, the places I'm capturing is actually to kind of bring people with me and let them look through my own eyes. So that's a kind of my drive for my photography.
That is interesting. You must love food, aren't you? What do you like food so much that you want to make sure that the photo look like okay, it's
really no yeah, how to how to otherwise say that, you know, it's, it's a very weird thing. Like sometimes you know, when you scroll through your timeline in Twitter, and you're just like stopping at one picture, and it can be like that you say, oh my god, this light is amazing or like this composition. But mostly for me, it's like, wow, this colour looks tasty it's very weird. Colour I understand that, you know, but no, it's not exactly like a cake, but it kind of brings up this emotion.
That is cool. Yeah, that's really interesting. No one ever explained to me that way about photography. So I really enjoy that a really fresh now, you know, like you you share a story and I can't remember. Yeah, it was in this one. I was like, I can't remember if you share it before we started the recording or after but anyway, you started you tell the story about you went to Himalaya and going to the what's the name? There is a name right. The from the one that go from Russia to China? Is that the sea Berean or
the Trans Siberian train? Yeah, that was Russian way. So you have the different one did you I know I did started as a Trans Siberian train. This is actually from the longest ride you can take. It's from St. Petersburg, Moscow. And it has been Borg and so on and so on up to floody, Bosco Vladivostok, which is on the far end of Russia to the east side. So you have like this long, long way and take one week, day and night drive all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok. And I took that train but only to Lake Baikal and from Lake Baikal, I take another. So the there is a connecting train, actually. But it's the Mongol train then, which goes down to Mongolia, in Ulaanbaatar. And from hula matar, you can go from there. Also, with the Mongolian train, obviously, you Chinese train line already to Beijing. And this train connection is very, very interesting, because on the border of Mongolia and China, you need to change the wheels of the train. So they lift in the middle of the night, it's so funny in the middle of the night, they just bring you into like kind of a big warehouse, they lift up the whole train, so they separate the train into the back ends, then the waggons go into the warehouse, and then they lift up all the waggons. And then they remove all the wheels and put new wheels on there. It's now about the width of the of the wheels on the left, and the right side is different in Russia than to China. So the need to change it on the border
Yeah, it's hilarious. Especially because there is like one stop before the border in Mongolia. And they take your passport in the middle of the night on this train station. So there is somebody and he's collecting all the passports so he has like a big stack of passports in his in his arm and he's just like yours on top. And then he's exiting the train in the middle of the night in nowhere. And we you continue to drive and then you are in this warehouse and they change the wheels and you still don't have your passport. You just like do I get it back. Get it back, and then reattach the whole train and then arrive out again. And this guy is going through the train and he's like just giving you your passport. Just like I was really like, here's your passport back. And you have the visa stamp inside. It's hilarious, hilarious. I can do that.
Why didn't experience you must be what, you know, one thing that I'm interested to hear is that it's it's such an experience. You know, I I kind of I used to hate travel and only when I you know I only found travel a little bit late in my life and I you know, finally fell in love with it. And that's what got me into photography. But I used to hate travel. Right. And I think you're very fortunate and lucky to be able to explore and go to through all of that experience. You know, in your life. I think there's only a very small number of people that will have the opportunity to do that or the courage to do that. Right. So I'm wondering, right? What what goes through your mind? Like, what makes you want to do that. And you know, what I want you to share as well as like, along the way, what are some of how does your photography affect the way you travel the way you see things and the way you interact with, you know, the your surrounding the environment as well as the people.
Yes. So that's, that's super interesting. So the drive why I'm going out, is indeed, like the exploration. And I think exploration in photography is a big main thing for my photography, to like, yeah, what I'm doing when I'm doing it, you know, like, so the images said something very, very, very important, you know, like, you need to have the courage to go or you need to be fortunate enough to go in, I know that, you know, when I'm going out and travel, and especially when I did a very long travel, or I'm going again, for like, a few months into, like, ever. It's a big financial step, as well, I'm this finance thing is, so big hurdle, you need to actually act to take it every time you do that. And photography is not cheap hobby you're having like photography, or cameras are evolving all the time, you want to have in your model, you want to have a different lens to experience, like different kinds of angles, or just to capture a different picture you're dreaming of, you know, we are creatives, we want to actually have all the tools, but you just can't have all the tools, except you're like very fortunate to afford it. And so, going out to explore, I think, most of the time of what I tried to do is to handle or to go with everything I'm having, and to still be like, happy about it to have it, you know, like, it's like I the alpha, I had the Alpha 6000 A very, very long time because I couldn't afford another lens, I was like in struggling was like get another lens or do allocate another camera body. But if I got another camera from our body, I need to get other lenses again. So every every photographer knows this game, you know, like, you always have to think about it. So if you can't upgrade, you go out there. And you are also to doing the financial step to go out there and you fly somewhere and you're experiencing something there and it's all cost money. And then you're there and you want to take a picture as you're dreaming off. Like for example, when when I go when I got hiking to the Everest base camp over three high passes. So there was it's not the regular track it's, it's a very longer track and be higher track too. And also, I went in from Jiri. So it was a 28 day hike. And in this time, I had three batteries. Me, I had one lens, and one camera body was made because I didn't have a porter and I didn't have a guide. So there was nobody helping me to carry my stuff, everything I had in this 28 days was in my backpack. And this is a very big limitation you have as a photographer, so you need to work with only one lens and only one camera body but to tell you something when you're up there and I think you know this kind of feeling because you do similar kinds of pictures and you'd have similar experiences I believe that when you're up there, your brain is kind of have that you just don't have enough oxygen to have a good clear thought. So actually getting out the camera and taking a picture it takes so much effort and so like take a good picture takes even bigger effort. So like I took try I tried to trick myself so what I did was like I had my big puffy jacket and I had like a little back in the front of my jacket. And then I put the camera inside and there again my limitation on this point was actually good thing the camera was small the camera body of the Alpha 6000 is super tiny small. The lens itself I had was so I could have gone smaller but for it was a step between quality and going even more lightweight. While it's fitted into the small pocket, so every time I saw something I just needed to grab into my pocket get Get it out and take a picture. And at one point, when I saw like, Okay, I have a longer journey to go, I just put it on automatic. It okay, maybe I shouldn't say that here, I put it on automatic, you need to, you know, you need to find your in between way where you are still getting the picture. But you're too overwhelmed with all the setting handling. I mean, now I'm on a totally different level, we just talked before about my journey about photography, I would not do that anymore. I'm 100% Sure, I'm not in that kind of mindset anymore. Like all the settings come more natural to me, I can find them way easier. And the picture I'm searching for, I can find easier. But at that point, I did that track. And there were moments, you don't have enough oxygen in your brain, you are hiking already six hours in high altitude. And you have to carry all your stuff on your back. And it the trails also sometimes not easy to walk, and then you see something amazing, and you're just like, Oh my God, I want to take your picture and you just go in your bag and take it out, you just take a picture. And you go on, you know, and you need to also to harvest the harvest, or you say to keep an eye on the battery level, it's more you're in, in, in cold conditions. So the battery is draining very fast, you don't have the possibilities to recharge them all the time, especially because it's super expensive to recharge them. And so I I only took it out, turned it on, took one picture. And I turned it off again, I didn't ever look again on the pictures until I finished the full track. Because I did want to save the battery in case I see something out amazingly. And I want to take a picture of it. Yeah. And it's fun, like, your way of travelling and how you choose to travel is, is directly directly changing how you take your pictures, I met other people on this track, having a portrait with them, and having different lenses having a tripod and so on and so on. And I saw those people next to me taking pictures and they do take them differently. And they do take different kind of, they just have more possibilities. But also they're limited because their culture is they they always need to go the same way. You know, he can't just make like, Okay, today I'm staying here just because the sunset is nice now and I'm I rather enjoy it now. And then I continue in the next morning in a different way. But when you have a porter you can't just do that. It's not possible. So I think one of the main things is freedom also, which goes with my photography, the freedom of, of choosing where to go and what to explore. And in that case, I'm just taking the pictures on the way if that makes any sense.
Yeah, no, that's that's really interesting. How that's, you know, I know, I did Annapurna Circuit and I know how tough that road is. And you know, if you have no Potter and have to carry everything. Gosh, like, you know, that must be really difficult. Having said that, I have so much gear that I think I had about 18 kilogrammes I think that's that's 1818 and a half on my back with my with my camera. So I bring two cameras, three lenses, and a few other things and tripods and stuff like that. But yeah, like it's by the way my camera was never in the back. Well that happens every now and then it has but most of the time it's just clip on my chairs on on on on Peak Design. And it's always there.
I haven't you see like you need to like slowly get there but when you start harbour freight you just don't have all this gear you need to like kind of slowly go through it. But your battery never died like I always needed to inside my pocket. You know, like,
I think the problem is you had mirrorless camera right? And I think you know with especially with the earlier era of Sony I know that they have they're struggling with the battery because it's always running on the LCD, right? Well that's the DSLR is no problem at all like you know I have my five d mark four and it's one time I was doing time lapse in Yellowknife in Canada it was negative 53 degrees Celsius. So it was the coldest actually it was negative or negative 4042 Like you know four have a camera. But with the wind chill. For human, we feel it as if it was negative 53. But yeah, we it runs for about one and a half hours from full all the way to empty before it ran out, which is not that much different when I take photo in a warm condition. So I think it worked quite well. But you know, again, DSLR, right? It doesn't have it doesn't need to power the monitor to keep running. Yeah. So you know what? Something that you very interesting that you bring up you. You go out there, right, you go travel and a lot of people that's listening now and just go like, Man, I wish I have enough slides. She She travelled every two years, six, one and a half year at a time, the first one six months. The second one is one and a half year. Right? Is that is that?
I think no, that was one, but it was like one journey, you know, like this was a two year journey.
Two year journey. Right? So yeah, for two years right now. And you mentioned about this, about the balance of having not only the mentality of you're gonna leave for your families and your friends behind, you can be on the road, right. But also the balance with financial part of it. So I love to hear, you know, the perspective because I know a lot of listeners out there will be like, and how do I do that? How can I how can I do that? Right? So I'd love to bring it back to that and get a little bit of your experience on? How can one do that not only mentally being away, and being alone and going out there by yourself trying to figure things out, because I know how difficult that could be. But also trying to find, you know, pulling, saving all that money pulling using all that money into yours. And then after the end of the trip, you feel like you have no money I feel like you're studying. So how do you go through that just take us through your mindset and where you think, Yeah,
I saw Oh, my God, you're talking about a topic, this is so sensitive, you know, like, there are like a few topics, you know, you feel emotionally attached to. And I noticed in the last years, I do have an emotional attachment to money, like it does give me a lot of security or especially especially not security if I don't have it. So in this two years travel, I was two times completely at zero at zero, like I didn't have any money left, none at all. And the first time was when I reached Canada, and there was a problem with my credit card. So it arrived in Germany and my, my parents sent it over to me to Canada. And it didn't never arrive. So it took like, not never, but it took like three months until it arrived. So in the three months, I just couldn't access any of my funds. And I needed to figure out another way, you know, so I believe when you go out there and you are facing and you don't, you're not fortunate enough to have a lot of funding. It's, it's a you need to have in mind that this can happen to you, you know, like and bring, like, try to put your self into a position. Okay, what would you do when this is happening? How would you? Do you have any friends or family members, we could ask him that moment to help you out. And What's plan B, you know, like, do have a plan B have a heaven security net, which is in inverse case take you when, for me it was my security net was a job. I'm avoided which was waiting for me in Germany. So in any case, I didn't know after those two years, I can go back to that job. And I will have a monthly income again. So that was my security net. So I just needed somehow to overcome the two years and to get back to Germany. This is a two things I needed to have. And then everything would be back to normal if that's good or bad. Everybody can decide to themselves. But yeah, that's that's one point. And you ask about like how to kind of fund this kind of travel so it's it's a very easy, easy task. You are getting money every month hopefully and hopefully you can save up that money and it's it's from for myself I own I would say On a regular income, it's not too much, it's not less. And so I can save a bit of that money each month. So I know like, every country is also different. Everybody gets different money, I guess you have a very international audience hear, which is listening. In in Germany, we have a lot of security, things, pay for insurances, and so on and so on. But we get also a lot of that back from the state. So there is less gap for saving. I know in America, you can have a bigger kind of saving funds. But in infrastructure in Indonesia, it's way smaller about just I can only speak from my experience at that point. So you can save each funds a little bit of money. And then what I did was I sold everything, I did not need it anymore. So I made a complete cut in my whole life. I sold everything, like literally, I bought also new things which I needed for this journey. So I kind of got into, I kind of moved into my backpack. So I had only a bigger travel backpack on my bag. And that was everything I owned, but I made sure everything I have in there is something I really need to get forward or to serve a camera. So by this I didn't say it like this, oh my god. But it's like, yeah, everything had a purpose, which was in there. But I made also sure it's a good kind of good quality, which I put in there or it needs it serves my purposes for this two years. And I was highly going for an adventure. And not four in five star hotel, hop on hop off. So especially the first things visit train, you know, where I was explaining you, this was partly really crazy. We had, we slept in like normal tents. You know, like, at one point, I was having a full week journey just to go to reindeer herders in nowhere. Like literally in nowhere, I needed to take a horse at the end for multiple days to visit those people. And it was like one of the best experiences on my journey in Mongolia. So but to experience this kind of, of outstanding things, you need to do outstanding stuff, you, you know, you need to be aware that there is no comfortable that waiting for you be happy if the ground is soft, kind of out. And you the for example, I was vegetarian before a Mongolia. And then I came to Mongolia in the first days, I could kind of survive as a vegetarian. But there was one point especially on this bigger journey to the reindeer herd herders where I could only eat meat. So it was a survival thing to change my diets. And at that point, I was like, okay, I can, I can literally eat what they just cooked for me. But it has meat inside. And it has meat inside, which I really don't like or since forever since I was even a kid. And I don't really even like to to eat it. But I need to eat it. Because otherwise the other option is starving. There's nothing else to eat. Like, there is no option. So yeah, diet, as that was something I never thought about before. But I needed to change it in. Yeah, to keep going. And I really wanted to go there because I saw pictures from those places. And they resonated with me so much that I wanted to see it was my own eyes and take my own pictures there. So yeah, it's it was one kind of a journey. And I'm super happy that I did that. And it's just like one example of the whole journey. You have always moments where you need to you very need to make an uncomfortable decision. And it has a good part and it has a bad part in it. And just those two together they feel maybe uncomfortable at this point. You are there but later on you will feel that it was worth it. You know, like every time you're like how how you did you do this? Yeah, it's mostly because you made sacrifices that leaving family and friends behind is maybe one thing you easily see but changing your diet It's something you don't have thought about before.
You know, that's, I find that really interesting. And I really love this story. You know, I, I'm from a similar place where I use as an engineer, you know, I have a whole life stop, and I sold everything and literally live off a suitcase and a backpack and, and a laptop sleeve now, right? Like, nothing else. Like, that's all I need, you know, and that's, that's crazy to think that you could live of something that's just from a suitcase. And, you know, it's, it's really interesting, because I guess, you know, one of the series that, that I just meant it was about that about, like, you know, finding the solitude in nothingness and so forth. But what I want to hear from your perspective, is that what what would drive you will give you the courage because to, to just drop everything and do this thing. That is, of course, it's dangerous, it's exciting, but like you say, it can be uncomfortable, it is unpredictable, you don't know what it is. And even you know, and it costs a lot of money, right? You actually you sold everything to, to you sold everything and you sacrifice not having all of that materialistic thing for this? Well, I could say once in a lifetime, once in a lifetime experience that, you know, again, many people might not have the chance and the ability. So for people who out there who are already thinking about it, right? But they're like, You know what, I don't know, how am I going to live? You know, when I sell everything that I own? Who am I? So tell us a little bit? What goes through your mind? Like what drives you? What makes you want to do this?
Oh, my God? I don't know. I really don't know. Like, that's, that's the question. You know, you ask yourself a song, like, why are you doing this? You know, you're saying I needed to go into a hospital in Mongolia? You don't want to have this experience? No, like, you're sitting there, like, what am I doing here? You know, and you will meet people who exactly ask you this, ask you the same and ask themselves the same. And some give up, you know, like, some can't take it, they go home, they need to see their family and they need to see their friends, they need to have the security. But if you don't go out there, you will never know. Yeah, and I did go out 2015. I taught you before to Nepal, after the earthquake. And that was that was only six months after the earthquake or five months after the earthquake happened. So it was a very devastated scenario in this country. And I did not know that it was my first Asian travel ever, I did not know what to expect, I did not know what is normal over there. And I came in this country, which was completely destroyed from political things, which were happening between China, India and Nepal. And also this earthquake, devastation, and everything was not everything, but many things were destroyed, you were running through the streets, and they were like, bricks of stones are just like laying there. There were cracks in the in the, in the, in the roads, and so on and so on. So for me, when I visit Nepal, the first time, this was something I considered to be normal there, but it was not at all. It was just my impression I got from my first visit ever there. And it was a time where there was not much available. But you know, coming out also have an engineering job. I think we have many things in common. It's so funny. I did not know. But, um, yeah, I'm working also as an engineer. So I came out of this engineering job, and I went to this holiday and I made a lot of overtime before many mate might relate to that, you know, you make a lot of sacrifices in your job before you have a comfortable life. And then at one point, you're just like, Okay, I'm doing this crazy journey. And then you pack a backpack and you don't know what to expect. And then you travel there. And finally you're there. And then you notice something and this was for me, you need only three things in life. And those three things are you have a roof over your head, you have food in your tummy and you have clothes you can wear which are proper to the weather outside. So those are three things which you really need to survive it, you don't need anything else. This is like the basic basic thing you need. And from there on everything, you can be very, very grateful to have, you know, like, I came back from that journey and my eyes were, you know, opened wide, I was like, I did see this country in devastation and people having nothing and still be the most warm people and happy people ever. And many become my friends back then. And I was with them regularly afterwards. And notice that when I visited and and met them the first time, it was an exceptional thing for them in their lives as well. And you see really like how much they sacrificed or needed to sacrifice or the first pay from them. And then you just see you don't need much to be like frantically happy to, to just keep thriving, what was what kind of things drive you. And everything on top is is an extra year you notice when you're when you're back, that a lot of things are just too much. I don't know how to say, but look at things like I came back, I opened up my door, I can really feel like this emotion I still have in me, I opened up the door of my flat, and it came inside. And I had two feelings. First of all, it was empty. And second of all, it was huge. It was an empty, huge place. That was the emotion I had when I came home from my one month travel. And I'll say wow, this is crazy. I need to change something. And that moment I came back home from Napa for my first journey was exactly the moment I said, I need to change my life. And that was a moment. I did No, I will, I will completely, completely get rid of everything. And I will live in my backpack for an uncertain amount of time. And that was a moment I decided to do this longer travel, I didn't know at that point, how this travel reward I will be experiencing then what came home afterwards. But I didn't know I want to do that. And it took still to two years for preparation. And for still keeping my job and saving money and setting everything and so on and so on. But, you know, eventually happens. You just need to have this moment where something is triggering in your head and you know, you need you want to have actually something else and then you just need to go for it. It takes long, like I said two years. From the moment I noticed I want to change it and I did it. But that's Yeah.
And that's very inspiring. Yeah, I mean, you know, I think this this is really cool, right? One of the things that I drive through the message that I drive through this this podcast is this whole notion about we we live in a social media world where everything is instant gratification you get your you know packet right away from Amazon, you get likes, you post something you get likes, you get commented right away, you get instant gratification, but, you know, for that reason we get really impatient to, to work towards where we want to be. And when you know when people hear about the story of you going like six months and one and a half years, and also like two years when a hobby, whatever it may be two years I yeah, I kept thinking it's like six months and then one and a half years.
It's myself, you know, I gave you just this first six months, and you only know about that one. But we didn't talk about the one and a half years. Like, we keep that on the side. We can't talk about this today. But I told you only the first six months of the year, rather and the one and a half years, there were still stuff happening, you know, like, but the first six months, I think that's when you go out and you do the first steps. And there are more. There are more taking an impression on your life and on yourself and on your character.
Yeah, that's your that's your biggest change. Right. That's the biggest drive that that changed where you're going with your life, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, exactly. I and you know, like, that's what I was gonna say, right? It's, you know, a lot of people kind of hear that and then be like, well, you know, you know, you're in Germany and you know, like you you're an engineer and you're, you know, of course you you have the money to go out there but you say to yourself, it took you two yours to save everything to put everything in line. And I truly believe that it doesn't matter where you are in this world that if you find a way and you work towards it, there is a way to get there. I know more, some people are more privileged than others write for us to live in a first world country, you as in Australia, Europe, it's, it's much more accessible. But you know, this just goes to you to show that even if you work in, you know, in if you live in, or if you come from this first world country, it's not easy. There's a lot of process to get there. So, thanks a lot for sharing that. I think that's really important to hear for the audience right now.
I'm intrigued with your other project, which was, you know, something that you can you can you can introduce, but what once you introduce it, what I want you to talk about is, why you're doing it and why you're going to this places connecting with the people to do this project.
Okay, so the very secret project I told you about is I'm working on a big project, which is eventually ending in in, in a format, which will be a book, like at least out of the current perspective. And it's a research project about tribal tattoos of the Tarot tribe, the Tarot are living on the border of Nepal and India, mostly on the Nepali side. And this side is not like everybody thinks about Nepal of the prayer flags and the big mountains. So Nepal has also jungle and it's a low altitudes, can you say low altitude? It's very low. It's not high up in it's a it's a real jungle, like you would imagine the jungle to be there are tigers there monkeys airliners and crocodiles, and so on, and so on. So you have all this wildlife there. And it's very well known. So people who go tracking they also go to the ship by national park, or Bardia National Park in Nepal, and they just go for entire search or whatever, and probably they don't see you on You're very lucky. Anyhow, it's, it's one of the things you can do there as tourists. So I don't, I know why, but I know how so it's a little bit confusing. Life is sometimes not going as planned, you know, like, and especially not as we expect. So what happened is when I went to Nepal, the second time in 2017, so I flew over from NASA to Nepal. There was a moment a friend asked me to take a picture of him on the I think it was one week ahead, you asked me can you take a picture of me? I'm like, Yeah, sure. What, what's it about? And he's like, getting a head tattoo. And I'm like, you're getting one. And he's like, I'm getting a hair tattoo. I'm getting my hair tattoos. Like, seriously, like, what he looked, he looked normal. You know what, that was a normal guy. And he had hair on his head. I was like, you gotta you saved all. And he's like, yes. Okay, well, he has all this, yes, I'm doing that I'm down. It's so crazy. I was not believing it. I was not believing it. And I saw him like, all saved off and getting the statue and I was so impressed on how this tattoo artist was working. During this tattoo, and all like he was so concentrated, he could see like a very focused energy going into his art, what he was doing there, and my friend being actually just like, just like, being an American, you know, like, he was like, completely off. He was just like getting this tattoo, you know, that was his only purpose to be there. But I was more and more like, very impressed on how this artist actually was working. So this was my first introduction into a tattoo. I would say I didn't have any tattoos. I didn't have anything to do as tattoos at that point. And there was a big Tattoo Convention around that happening. So I was three days at this Tattoo Convention and it was like a more like kind of family based kind of things so everybody didn't know each other. So I'm coming into this very close circle and experiencing that and I switched from taking pictures to videos, and I actually finished the complete video about this tattooing process he got on his head, and was very happy about what I just captured. It was also the first time I experienced to actually capture video and cutting it down and making a whole movie out of it. So like from scratch, and it was just inspired in that moment it happened, you know, like, it was not nothing planned or anything. So, coming to the actual topic of my secret is I when I was in 2017, there I, I came to know those people and I returned to Nepal. And she says 19 and I met the same people again. So those whole community of artists and I have mentioned this one tattoo shop and they had like a magazine there and I looked through that magazine, it was a local one. So about the Nepali Indian tattoo culture. And I found this one article, which was talking about travel touches of the Tarot. And that was the first really major moment I actually saw those tattoos and the the next things next, I went through sheet one national park, and when you go into the Chitwan National Park, and you are going on yourself, so you take a lot, a lot of paths, and you take it took took to go actually into the jungle, but you know, you're really squeezed in this little tip took and it happened to be that one woman was sitting in the squeeze and let her ticktick just cross of my seat. And she had those beautiful tattoos on her, you know, and I couldn't talk to her she was talking not my languages. I was not talking her languages. So we didn't have a common language, or accept sign language. Sign Language, by the way, is a very good investment to do. I don't mean the really technical side language. I mean, like, try to communicate only with your facial expressions and your body. And you're coming so much further in trouble. I tell you, this is safe. This is this is a pure alpha right now that's that's a sign language. But I was just like smiling at her and pointing at her tattoos and like, kind of into her body. And she went off at one station very soon. So I only asked her to take a picture. And she said it's okay, so I took a picture of her tattoo. And that was a very first picture I took of taro tattoo. And that moment in 2019, I went back to my job in Germany, and I was only back in July. And you can't believe it or not. And that is a moment where we are again, at that point light. When you have something here online, you really want to do it. That is a way that this is happening. It's somehow magic. But it just hasn't been 19 October already. I took the full October off. So I just came back, I was back basically bankrupt. I was on at zero in July. And in October, I took a long travel again and into the Stangl I didn't even have unpaid time, where I didn't even got money in and I took all the savings I had to them. And as was just like three months, August, September, three months, so only the money I could say from three months, and I took it all. And I spend it in another month. And that month, I only research about Tarot tribal tattoos, there was something happening in this trip took, I can't really explain. And I just connected with me. And you need to understand that this woman there are all olds, they're all old. So the younger generation or even the generation of my age, they don't do this kind of tattooing anymore. And it's super understandable. If you go into the process or how they're doing it, it's very painful and so on and so on. And they do it out of it, they do it also very young and in it's understandable kind of that this tradition is not continued anymore. So just to go from that point, like I was sitting at home and I thought like, How can I save this kind of designs? You know, how can I I kind of document this tradition in a way, which is respectful and can open a world to other people, which don't virtually never come in contact with anybody from the tribe, you know, they can even the tribe itself, like younger generations, how can they actually have access to their own tradition of like 10 years later, they want to actually learn something about this, but all the older woman are dead, you know, this is a very sad kind of drive I had there. So and time is running out on this project, you know, like at one point like other tattooed woman, they will be not not living on this earth anymore. So then tattoo culture will also the rest of their corporate culture will also be dying off. And this is not only specifically to tarot tattooing, like, all the tribes in the world are facing the same problem. There are just a few like the Maori tattooing, or the Hawaiian tattooing, which is surviving, also some Polynesian Get, get the attention of the Western world, you know, and that is, I think one of the key elements is not only the Western word, but you need to kind of present it in a way that people are falling in love is this magic, or this tradition and this designs, and then asking themselves, why don't we continue doing this, maybe not in the exact same state like it was done before, but like improving it a little bit, and continuing it, and
keep it alive, and then recognising it as a part of their their own cut short. And you can see there, so like a lot of levels inside of this. So I went there in October, and took my camera with me and look at Shelley pictures in a kind of Expedition I, I organised it myself, and did not know what to expect there. I actually went there. And I did not even know where to start searching or how to approach or how this should look like. And it was baby steps are baby steps and baby steps. And I went again and did another research. And it's it's very interesting, it's coming together, I found, I would say over 100 woman having different kinds of designs, found many explanations still being in their hats have like the meaning behind it. Like so which elements have a what meaning what they stand for, why they got tattooed, and so on, and so on. And many stories also are about like how they got tattooed. In I did to now only a photography project out of it. And like a story based approach. But for sure, there's like so much more to explore, you know, like, also maybe on a video base and so on. But the entire tribe is very big, and they have different styles of tattooing as well. So this project is really a big project. And, yeah, it's very, very challenging, especially because he wants to be not disrespectful to the people themselves. And you want to preserve it in a in a very respectful way. And, yeah, not I don't know how to say that. But it's a, for me, it's a very delicate topic on on, not pressuring them into anything, but still at the same time, trying to preserve as much as there is possible and as much as I can understand as a person, which is not from that tribe. That which is a very big factor. You know, like I'm coming as an outsider into the culture and trying to understand it, and nobody can tell me if I ever will understand it, you know, like, there is always a gap. I have a translator or tool with me and I need to rely on them. I do have a tattoo artist I met they're in, in the in this area in the shade one area, and he's also from that tribe. So I took him with me on one of those expeditions and to have somebody with me I can trust and rely on and also at the same time have him experience his own culture. If Before I came, he was not interested in this tattoos, you know, this is, this is one of the big tabs, which I find is really? Yeah, it makes me happy that a tattoo artists from the same tribe is actually being interested in his own culture and understanding at slowly understanding. Yeah.
Yeah, I think he just, I think he just changed his life, to be honest, I'm sure. Ever since that, you know, he would never do say it. But it's so interesting, right? How, and I think it's really cool. How you, you approach this, and I know, there's a lot of things are dying here in our planet, you know, whether it's culture, history, even a lot of environment. Yeah, animals, you know, like, even the ice is disappearing. Right? So yes, it's, it's, you know, like, I feel like when we look at photography, you know, many people are looking at it as a way to just take photo and get likes on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter. But in many cases, we owe it to the world to capture these moments and be able to preserve it for generations to come. And, you know, that it's, it's why, like, you know, when when people only care about the likes, it kind of breaks my heart because I feel like there are more to it than than that. But, man, it's what a what a story. It's just so so you have so much more story, I'm sure within your, you know, two years. So, yeah, because you talk about a lot of the six month. But anyway, we come into the one hour mark, and, you know, I'm sure you have a lot of wisdom. And one thing that I always ask the guests that come into the podcast is, you know, what, what are one of the most important or one of the most important or that lesson that you have come across in your life that you feel like, more people out there should preach it should Curie and should do it?
So I stay on that one on the photography side of things, I guess. And I mean, it's often said, and mostly overlooked, or people don't want to have it for real, but your technical equipment does not say anything about the quality of your photography. So yes, the quality output, indeed does change with your equipment. But going out there and taking the picture, actually, which is there and experiencing something through your photography, and making it available to other person, it does not matter if you go out with a point and click film camera, or you take the Alpha 6000, you know, and go out and go into the mountains and shoot Mount Everest, why not? And I mean, I'm super happy, I could upgrade in this year to a full frame camera and much nicer lands. But the start in the history, I have this my old camera and with my lower gear, it's something I don't want to miss. And it shows me that there is so much possible with the equipment you have. Because what you have and where you are right now is what counts, you know, don't dream about, like, oh, I need to have that extra one I need to don't also need to go to Greenland or to Iceland, or whatever. You can go out here and just try to improve your photography on a technical side and the creative side or just see your own city or your own landscape around behind your door, you know, in a different, different and new way. show the world how you see the world. I guess. That's one of the major things I learned in the last years. Yeah.
Wow, that's I mean, you know, like, I think that's a lot of people have seen it. But I think not enough people also say that because still to this to this day, a lot of people kind of only thing that in order to take beautiful Grand photos, you need to go to places so far away. And I think if that is your mindset, you are missing a lot of things, capturing a lot of moments you missing capturing a lot of moments that actually happening right in front of you, but because your site is so far away, you you miss everything, right. Well, you know, it's been a pleasure. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much for sharing your stories and yours The group project,
it's my site, thank you so much for inviting me, it was a real pleasure to talk about all these things in that way, you know, don't get a chance too often, to talk about it in this kind of depth, especially in the foot. On the photography side, so thank you for giving me this opportunity.
And your percent. And it's, you know, it's one of the mission of this podcast, but also, you know, hope a lot of a lot of listeners can learn from what you've gone through and some of the things that you've gone through and I from what I've seen is that people, most of us kind of go through a similar process, right? And it's why we connect with each other very, very well, because we connect in that sort of level. So yeah, very much you appreciate very much appreciate that you share a lot of this story. Now for the people who want to get to know you better, what is the best way to find you and your future project? I know you're working on a on an NFT project as well in the future. So just what is the best way to learn from about you and learn about your art?
And so the best way would be to follow me on Twitter, I guess, or just drop me there in DM, if you want to talk to me, like my DMs are always open. And I'm actually you're here right now. So I'm very open to conversations. So just drop me a message indeed on on Twitter, even Instagram, it's totally fine. It goes with my first name and surname. So in Agra Xiao all together on both platforms, you can also write me an email, actually. But they're all linked on my bio side, which is linked on each of the socials. And yes, indeed, you took something away, I am working on the last little bits of putting my NFT collection together, it will be my Genesis. And it will be part of what we talked today a lot not about the secret project, though, that that demand is not finished, but about the journey and bring many elements of that journey to the people and to make it more accessible. Because there's so much in here, which happened in the last two years, and I kind of want to use the medium off the nfts. To, to Yeah, just make people aware about what happened. What can happen on a journey? Or what happened to my journey?
That is fantastic. Yeah, I
think a lot of people on Twitter.
Yeah, though, I think people should really share a lot more of their journey and you know, like, what, what they've gone through what's gone through their journey. So Well, thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much for sharing all the stories now we get hunters, if you haven't come across in his work yet, please do follow her, you can find the link on the description below. But with that being said, thank you for being here. And listening to us, you know, having this conversation listening to is stories about her travel and incredible, like, you know, exploration to some of the culture that might not going to be here in in, in a few years time. You know, I think a lot of us need to realise that a lot of the things that that we've been taking things for granted that a lot of the things that are happening and are in this world right now is disappearing, whether it's culture, like I say an animal, you know, whatever it may be. So go out there go travel like inner said, you know, take the courage to do that. And go explore and see what you can find out there. I think there's a lot more place in this world you can explore away from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and you know, whatever in your computer and on your phone. Well, you know, thank you very much for being here again. And with that being said we can do is I'll see you on next episode. And don't forget to hit the subscribe button as well as leave a review. Let us know what you like about this podcast about in his work, or her story as well as if you know anyone that you'd like to hear from the podcast. Alright, you know, thank you very much and I'll see you next time.
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