Uzbekistan – Photo Tip
Don't be afraid to ask
No matter how dramatic the scenery or impressive the sights, no country comes alive until you connect with its people.
I struggled for years to take good photos of faces, trying to sneak pictures with big lens or hidden cameras. Then I learned the simple secret: ask. It takes no effort to learn a few words of any language and a simple "Hello", "please" and "thank you" will go far.
The worst that can happen is that the person you approach will say "No", whereas being caught trying to "steal" a photo can cause a nasty incident – not to mention being plain rude. And sometimes even a "no" can be overcome if you persist and make it clear you are genuine.
In Uzbekistan, very few people said "no" and it was just as common for others nearby to ask to be photographed as well. The Tashkent family of this small girl with her wonderful unibrow were delighted to show her off, while I found the quiet dignity of this older couple in Smarakand very touching. With no language in common, we were able to make a real connection and, despite the real wonders of Samarkand, they are my best memory of it.