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Full Circle in Chiapas

Below are the photos taken recently during my second trip through Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas. My first trip to this stunning destination happened six years ago in 2012 under very different circumstances. Back then I was two years in to my new life in Tulum, still at the beginning of my photography career and struggling (hard!) to not only make the ends meet but to also believe that I was a real photographer. It was my first big adventure experience of traveling solo through Mexico… Still fresh in my memory is the arduous overnight bus ride I took from Tulum to Palenque, where in the middle of the night a clever invisible thief stole ALL my beloved Nikon photography gear and money while I accidentally dosed off somewhere near the shady town of Escarcega.

With my heart completely shattered and not knowing how I would shoot a fashion project I was already booked for one week later in Tulum, I moved around Palenque ruins like a ghost gazing at the ancient city structures through a thick veil of tears and devastation. I remember taking sad blurry photos of the pyramids with my iPhone simply to kill time while I waited for the afternoon bus to San Cristobal de las Casas where a fellow photographer friend Masha was waiting for me. Going down the memory lane, I’m glad to see that my old photos of San Cris in this post from 2012 are somewhat sunnier because I was able to borrow my friend’s camera for a couple of hours and my wounded heart actually began to heal quickly.

By the time my 2012 Chiapas trip ended I experienced what we Russians call ‘the irony of fate’ (a phrase coined by the classic 1975 Soviet-era film of my childhood) because for the first time ever I felt like a real photographer and not an impostor. And even though in that moment I was a real photographer without a camera, the proof of my newly found confidence came immediately via a respected colleague Manu who trusted me to borrow his treasured Canon 5D Mark II camera kit for my upcoming fashion shoot. Anyone who tried to make it as a photographer in Mexico, and Tulum in particular, knows how difficult it is to obtain pro photography gear spontaneously (not to mention short-notice!) without a single rental anywhere in vicinity, and I’m not sure the situation has improved all these years later. Needless to say my gratitude soared sky-high at this miracle and although I never shot with Canon before, within minutes of practice I was able to rock the photo-shoot and never doubted myself again! Long story short, thanks to the generous investment of my gemini soul brother twin Johan as well as my amazing parents, I was able to make a huge upgrade in my Nikon photography gear turning an irreparable loss into a blessing in disguise. Shortly afterwards I ended up in NYC assisting some of the most talented photographers whose work I hitherto only admired from the pages of magazines. So this is the short version of the story about how I became a professional photographer.

Fast forward to now six years later, I was overjoyed to return to Chiapas in order to give its stunning landscapes proper justice with my beautiful Sony a7r camera. Yes, I made the big switch from Nikon to Sony a couple of years ago when a filming challenge in Peruvian Amazon convinced me to go as light and as silent as possible. As I post these images from Chiapas in November 2018 I want to express my deep appreciation to the road-trip spirits of Chiapas for keeping me inspired and safe on its crazy and often treacherous mountain roads while also paving the road to my own success back in what seemed like the end of my world in 2012. I also want to thank my partner in crime Reedo for capturing my happy self frolicking in the spectacular Agua Azul waterfalls and for following me all the way to the summit of Palenque’s Temple of the Cross to witness one truly gorgeous sunset. What a way to complete the circle!


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