I’ve kept something from you, a secret. I’ve been in Albania for the last two weeks. Upon arrival in Tirana, I turned off my phone, placed it in my suitcase and never looked back. Off the grid. Heaven. No social, no email, no contact with the “outside” world, which in Albania might be viewed as ironic. (The country was totally isolated under dictatorial rule for forty years.)
In addition, I was not alone. My wife was along, as were three others, and we were officially part of a photographic workshop program called “Wide Angle Tours.” Now, is this something I normally do? No. I’ve taught international photography workshops but I’ve never been the student. You know me, I’m a loner, best and most talented when left alone wallowing in the despair of my own thoughts. However, this organization is run by a friend who is of Albanian descent and someone who is a very successful and talented photographer who approached my wife and me and said: “Albania is opening up fast if you want to go, go now.”
Americans know next to nothing about Albania. Myself included. The first person I told about the trip asked where in South America Albania was located. The next few people asked why I wanted to go to Russia. My Italian friends said it was one hundred percent certain I would be killed by the Albanian mafia. Exactly ONE person said, “Cool, The Balkans.” When people would ask “Why go there?” or “What’s in Albania?” my answer was simple. “To look around,” or “Probably a lot of Albanians.”
I suck at tourism and I REALLY suck at Instagram tourism. Man, I would rather eat lightbulbs than go anywhere that is considered “hot.” Like Croatia. Albania isn’t considered hot unless you are talking weather. It was stifling. Upper 90’s with high humidity. Luckily, I like this but were I working the entire time, or on assignment, it would have been a bit more challenging.
But I don’t write this post as a travelogue. I write this because I’m going to be sharing A LOT more about this trip and my philosophy and technique behind what I made and how I made it. Hint, I’ve already got 90-pages of Blurb Premium Magazine ready to go.
I made exactly ONE decision about my work before I left. This decision was based on history. And I’m glad I took the time to do the research because making this decision was hugely important in being able to create the work I did.
Much more on this. Stay tuned for a barrage of posts about photography, Albania, editing and creating a cohesive, personal print piece.