In uncertain times, disconnecting from the intensity of the news can be an important way to help stay sane. Now that the soothing outdoors are out of reach for many people in self-isolation, we find ourselves constantly glued to our screens, anxiously refreshing newsfeeds and going down rabbitholes of distressing information. Using the internet to find a realm of inner peace can be difficult, which is why at The Calvert Journal we want to take you on a virtual day-dreaming trip to faraway places.
Whereas our lives seem to have come to a halt, outside, spring is in full swing. This week, we’ve selected photo stories that will transport you to mountainous plains, peaceful summer sunsets, pastel-coloured towns, and cobblestone alleys. Take a break from the world, close all other tabs, and feel the mellow warmth of the first rays of spring sunshine.
When Polish photographer Magdalena Borowiec first travelled to Kyrgyzstan almost a decade ago, she was powerfully struck by its isolation and the wild beauty of the country’s open spaces. “My favourite thing about the landscape was spaciousness, amazing spaciousness,” says Borowiec. Mountains suddenly emerge, as frozen monuments, from a plain, and the sky looks as if it is hung lower than usual, always full of stars.”
“Humans become humble when confronted with nature on this scale. Time begins to flow slower, drawing greater attention to details. You can meet and discover yourself. It is a very spiritual, intimate experience. In Kyrgyzstan it is impossible to live against the rhythm of nature.”
With its crystal clear waters, Lake Ohrid is a slice of paradise in the southern Balkans. While most tourists head to the Macedonian city of Ohrid for its Ottoman architecture and myriad of Byzantine churches, photographer Savannah Fortis decided to take a detour to the little-visited town of Pogradec on the Albanian shore.
Even though it was October, the days were bright and still warm enough to not have to bring a jumper. She assures that Pogradec should not be missed: “Pogradec’s infrastructure itself may not be as picturesque and complex as its Macedonian counterpart Ohrid, but I was struck by its simplicity. Surrounding the lake are incredible mountains and hillsides that speak for the beauty the Balkans behold.”
After handing in her dissertation and completing her studies at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Lyubov Slyusareva felt a sudden relief. Before any worries about the future set in, she headed to Odesa, on the Black Sea coast, where a friend had sublet a room for the summer. “I planned to meditate and really pay attention to my sleep and diet,” says Slyusareva.
That summer, the heat was intense. The endless sunsets were representative of a new dawn for the photographer. “In the end, the restlessness of vacation actually brought about a sense of calm. I’ve always struggled to accept life as it is. I used to believe that in those moments when you lose control, something is bound to go wrong. In actual fact it’s pure bliss,” she reflect
For the last few years, Polish photographer Adam Wilkoszarski has travelled from one resort to the next looking for quiet spots to unwind. He says he found those moments of serenity in the off-season, when resorts close their doors to visitors.
Taken at lakeside cabins and woodland campsites across Poland, Romania, and Finland, Wilkoszarski’s landscapes conjure the rare feeling you get on holiday when time seems to slow down or stop altogether. “In each of these places you can feel the gentle but still palpable trace of memories,” the photographer says of his starkly empty views. He deliberately wanted to obscure the locations and create a series that is more poetic than documentary. “The pictures are not focused on one resort or another. Actually, it’s about a universal place that we all have in our minds. For me, it’s a longing for the holidays of my childhood.”
This uplifting photo series, with its Balkan mosaic of turquoise waters, pastel coloured-buildings and cobblestone alleys, is globetrotter Mandy Sham’s love letter to the region. “I’ve always been drawn to shapes and colours in my work. I find novelty in neighbourhoods that feel and look dynamic, local architecture, and design, and people either en masse or singled out in a striking manner. I love incorporating light and shadow that are suggestive of time and its passing.”
“Photography and travel share so many similarities in terms of what they require as a baseline — things like understanding where and how you might fit in a place, the ability to convey openness, having an exorbitant amount of patience. In both cases, language is not a necessity,” she says. The moment passes and you capture it or you don’t. But you communicate in your attempt at understanding. You pay attention. And I think that’s beautifu
Away from the buzzing cham of Tbilisi, Russian photographer Dina Lün captures the peaceful bliss of Georgia’s rural landscapes, where time seems to pass differently.
Lün, who took her photographs while on a road trip across Georgia earlier this year, was struck by the contrast between the Tbilisi’s urban setting and the rugged, natural beauty of its vast, serene pastoral landscapes. “The only valuable skill you might want to master is not over-ordering on food and drink. You can easily get through a couple of litres of wine without noticing and not be able to get out of bed the next morning,” she advises.