National Geographic assignments, adventures, and family. Commercial agent: @natgeocreative PRINTS HERE>>>>>>
709 posts 825,023 followers 410 following
On assignment for @NatGeo: The “White Ghosts” of the Wahweap Hoodoos in what used to be #EscalanteNationalMonument in Utah. These are 160 million year old Entrada Sandstone that, at one point, had capstones on them that eventually fell off. Now the rain has sculpted them into these ghost-like shapes.
On assignment for @natgeo: The “Tower of Silence,” in the Wahweap Hoodoos, in what used to be Escalante National Monument. These white Entrada sandstone formations are capped by conglomerate rock that keeps the softer stone beneath from eroding. As the land around the capstone has melted away in the wind and rain, the protection and compression from the top has left these beautiful and very fragile towers. This whole area was removed from Monument protection when it was reduced by 860,000 acres and split into 3 smaller Monuments by Executive Order. It does remain a Wilderness Study Area.
In my happy place! On assignment for @NatGeo photographing the slot canyons of #EscalanteNationalMonument in Utah. Looking at sites that were recently removed or otherwise affected when the Monument was shrunk by around %50 and split into 3 smaller units by Executive Order. These slots were not removed but the trail to get to them, and the larger buffer area around them were removed opening the area for potential resource extraction. There is a climb out you have to do at the end of these slots. Watch my IG story feed in the coming days for video and stills from these slots!
I miss the cold marble (and warm heart!) of this holy place. The shrine of the Sufi scholar, mystic, poet, and saint Shah Abdul Latif Bittai in the village of Bhit Shah in the Sindh, Pakistan. To sit and hear the singing and prayers. To smell the flowers that are piled onto the graves. These shrines are such special places.
A whirling dervish dressed in red at the Urs (death anniversary celebration) of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. A profound scholar of religions and contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world in the mid 1200’s and settled in Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan, where he was eventually buried. The annual Urs brings more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. The three-day feast fills the narrow streets of Sewan with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees. They visit the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. They sing and dance day and night to folk bands and Quawwali groups. #DamaDamMastQalandar
Pilgrims visit the intricately tiled tomb of the Sufi saint Sachal Sarmast (Sindh, Pakistan). He died in 1827 and his real name was Abdul Wahab Farouqi, but he was nicknamed "Sachal" or "Sachoo.” He used that pen-name in his poetry. Sachu means 'truthful' and Sarmast means 'ecstatic' in Sindhi and Urdu. Sachal Sarmast literally means 'truthful mystic' or can be translated as "Ecstatic Saint of Truth.”
Saeen Zahoor is perhaps the greatest musician I have ever met. He channels the spirit in a way that very few humans can.
Zahoor started singing poetry at the age of five, when he had reoccurring dreams of a hand beckoning him towards a shrine. He left home at the age of ten, roaming between the Sufi dargahs (shrines) of the Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan, looking for that hand. He lived without belongings, relying on the generosity of strangers at the shrines where he sang. He eventually found the shrine in his dream in the Uch Sharif, in the Punjab, and he saw the hand that had called him from his dream, waving him inside. Soon after he began to study under the master Raunka Ali of Patiala Gharana.
He plays the ektara, a one stringged instrument, and a three-stringed version called tumbi. When he sings he spins like the dervish that he is, throwing his embroidered kurta in a circle, with the tassels on his instrument whirling around him. He wears the ghungroo ankle-bells, layers of heavy beaded necklaces, rings on every finger, a tightly bound black turban, and khol around his eyes.
I have seen him put people into an ecstatic trance. And in that trance they find their god. (Look him up on YouTube!)
Ive been asked several times in the past week if women participate in the sufi gatherings and rituals I have been sharing. The answer is Yes! In much smaller numbers but usually with equal or greater intensity as their male counterparts. This woman participated in the dhamaal, whirling her hennaed hair in an ecstatic trance, outside the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in the Sindh, Pakistan. See more in my IG story.
A drummer twirls at the center of a gathering of Sufi pilgrims at the Urs (death anniversary celebration) of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. A profound scholar of religions and contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world in the mid 1200’s and settled in Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan, where he was eventually buried. The annual Urs brings more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. The three-day feast fills the narrow streets of Sewan with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees. They visit the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. They sing and dance day and night to folk bands and Quawwali groups. #DamaDamMastQalandar!
Portrait of a pilgrim at the shrine of the Sufi scholar, mystic, poet, and saint Shah Abdul Latif Bittai in the village of Bhit Shah in the Sindh, Pakistan. Pilgrims like this often have no belongings and live off the donated food at the shrine, where they read and pray and sing day and night, sleeping on the marble floors or amongst centuries old graves outside the shrine.
Thousands of Sufi pilgrims lost in ecstatic dance, at the Urs (death anniversary celebration) of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. A profound scholar of religions and contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world in the mid 1200’s and settled in Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan, where he was eventually buried. The annual Urs brings more than HALF A MILLION pilgrims from all over Pakistan. The three-day feast fills the narrow streets of Sewan with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees. They visit the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. They sing and dance day and night to folk bands and Quawwali groups. This was the most crowded event I have visited in the world, with a level of beauty and chaos unrivaled in all my travels. You can see a short (old) video clip of the dhamaal in my IG story. #DamaDamMastQalandar
Sunset prayers outside an intricately tiled Sufi shrine (the tomb of Roz-e-Dahani) in Pir Jo Goth, Sindh, Pakistan. This Sufi community is lead by the 8th Pir Pagara in a lineage that dates back to the early 1800s. The Pir is a spiritual guide who accepts initiates as his disciples. Throughout the instruction period, the initiate often experiences visions and dreams during personal spiritual exercises. The visions are interpreted by the Pir.
Portrait of a Sufi pilgrim at the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalander in Pakistan. Part of a long term story of mine on Sufism, defined by its adherents as the mystic branch of Islam. Others claim it is a philosophy that pre-dates religion, the expression of which "flowered within Islam." In Pakistan Sufism is a voice of peace and moderation in times often filled with violent extremism. More from my Sufi series over the coming weeks!
A man kneels at a grave in the ruins of a Sufi shrine to Bibi Jawindi in Uch Sharif, Pakistan. Sufi poetry and music brought me back to Pakistan many times over the last two decades. Watch for a whole Sufi series (including old video and audio recordings) over the coming weeks in my stream.
30 minutes before we were ambushed by the Taliban in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan our convoy drove by this young boy holding up a flower. The rest of the day was spent running and hiding in ditches and under trucks in a rain of bullets. You can read the story of how it turned out in the link in my header.
A portrait taken of me on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan by a box camera photographer using a paper negative technique (2007). The kamra-e-faoree or “instant camera” as it’s commonly called, is a big wooden box on a big wooden tripod that almost looks like a large format camera. But the inside of the camera works like no other! The wooden box is both a camera and a darkroom, with small trays of chemicals and the photosensitive paper stored within the box itself. The focusing is done manually by sliding a wooden plate with photo paper attached inside the box until the projected image is sharp (a light tight arm sleeve allows the photographer to reach inside to do all these tasks). The paper is exposed to the light through a lens with no timer - only a cap that’s pulled of and put back on. The paper negative is developed inside after being exposed then fixer is applied to keep it from fading before being removed from the box. It is then placed on another wooden plate, wet with water, this time outside the camera, to act as the subject of the next photo and the process is repeated to make the positive. Very few of these artists remain in Kabul and have been replaced over the last decade by digital photography and printing. #AfghanBoxCamera
I found original video of my 2007 tank wedding this week on an old hard drive! (See my IG story today) I’d never seen it before. The wedding was officiated by The New Yorker magazine staff writer Jon Lee Anderson who was ordained online days before. The wedding happened a week after we were both almost killed in a Taliban ambush in Oruzgan whole cover drug eradication efforts there. Written account in the link in my header. “The day we were ambushed by the Taliban, I was wearing a 45-pound flak jacket but no helmet. It weighed me down as I ran through empty villages, choking on fear, far from the DynCorp mercenaries we came with. Major Khalil was screaming into his radio as we raced deeper into the battle with a captured Taliban prisoner in tow. As I ran, the poppies coated my pants with raw opium stains...”
The son of kite maker Noor Agha flies a kite in their yard on the edge of Kabul (which is also a graveyard). Every Friday on Nadir Khan Hill hundreds gather to fly and fight these kites, and chase those that fall.
To make the kites “fighting kites,” the strings are often coated in glass and glue to cut the competitor's string in mid air.
Another role in this game is "kite running," which seems almost as important as kite fighting. Once a kite is cut, the #Kite Runner chases after the fallen kite and tries to run it down to retrieve it. See the previous post to see Noor Agha with his more elaborate kites.
Noor Agha, in his living room with his children, is widely acknowledged as the best kite-maker in Afghanistan.
The key to a good kite, Agha says, is in the glue he uses: a green paste with several secret ingredients + rice paste. The this magic glue allows him to make a kite with no wrinkles in the tissue paper, keeping it perfectly flat and extra light.
The most simple kites he sells to traders for pennies each, but he charges hundred of dollars for his large kites with elaborate designs. (Next post shows his son flying the kites!)
#sponsored - Thermopolis, Wyoming claims the "World's Largest Mineral Hot Springs!" you can see it written on the hillside above it as you drive into town. When I was growing up near this natural wonder, my family and I spent cold winter days bathing in the local #StarPlunge pool, in water piped in from the surrounding hills. To cool off, we’d jump out and roll in the snow. #SmallThanks to Star Plunge owner Roland Luehne for keeping the tradition alive. If you ever swing through central Wyoming be sure to stop at the Star Plunge and sit in the "Lobster Pot" or the "Vapor Cave" and soak up the healing waters of this pool that was first dug into the earth in the mid-1800s! The waters have been used for the past 200+ years by native tribes in the region and were called "Bah Guewana" or "Smoking Waters" by the Shoshone. It is said that Chief Washakie even had a bathtub scraped into the travertine here!
Please share photos and stories of your favorite small business with #SmallThanks and tag @google. A select few will get marketing support from @google.
#sponsored - The Holy Grail of ice cream: Huckleberry on a waffle cone. I have never driven through Ten Sleep, Wyoming without stopping at @DirtySallysGeneralStore for one of these, and I’m proud to be partnering with @google to recognize them this season. Dirty Sally's is a grocery store, coffee shop, and mercantile that serves cowboys, climbers, hunters, and hippies (and yes, even tourists). It’s a true must stop. #SmallThanks to owner Leah Linster and her family for keeping the dream alive! I personally have been visiting this store at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, near my hometown, for the past 23 summers to rock climb the world-class limestone walls in the nearby canyon (see slide 4). If you're wondering: the town was named after the number of "sleeps" it took to get to two large Native American camps in the region!
Remember to share photos and stories of your favorite small business with #SmallThanks and tag @google. A select few will get marketing support from @google.