I’m in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. It is so enlivening to be somewhere where a couple of Gold Medals (and two Silvers) has completely energized a country. People are driving down the streets waving flags, honking, and cheering. Tonight there is a huge celebration on the main square with fireworks, cheering, exulting, and much drinking; but all in good fun. This afternoon the taxi drivers and I, with very little language in common, could easily thumbs-up on the success of the Olympics for Mongolia. “Gold – Boxing ! Gold – Judo!”
We are used to lots of medals, 110 medals this time. Phelps nabbed eight, no small achievement, but not unbelievable for us. China had 100, with more Golds, so it hard to empathize with a country that only has FOUR. However, population for population–Mongolian wins are way ahead.
This has nothing to do with photography but everything to do with the spirit of people (and that is my inspiration for photography). Mongolia has recently had some nasty spats with their government (but we can relate to that, can’t we?), so a positive feeling is very welcome to them.
This is what I take away from the Olympics…. Mongolia, Togo, Estonia, Dominican Republic. You know they are dancing in the streets and feeling very proud. I love this. I rout for the small countries and know how much it means to them to get a medal.
I feel it now in Ulan Bator. Photography is not just about “taking the photo”, it is about being in the pulse, the marrow, and the heartbeat of a country. If you cannot feel it then you cannot photograph it.