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Photo Titles Are More Than Just Names

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Between 2010 and 2013, I toured the world for the first time. After living in Australia and Asia, I returned home but always felt like my urge to visit and live in foreign places was still not fully satisfied.

Back home, I started working and studying, and after five years, I wanted to head out again. So I set off on yet another world tour in 2017, covering everywhere from Brazil to the USA and New Zealand to Vietnam.

After I completed my second big trip around the world, I looked back at images that I took over the span of two-and-a-half years in 15 countries on four different continents and realized how much more there is to the titles that I give my images than just names.

Usually, I’m pretty impulsive when it comes to naming images. The inspirations for the titles can be an array of things:

  • How did I feel when I took the shot?
  • What happened before/while/after taking the image?
  • Who was I with?
  • What inspired me to take this picture?

When you look at a photograph you took a while ago, the first thing that happens is it evokes memories. Memories of the landscape, weather, conditions, people, and so on. Of course, it can be hard to remember certain details of the shot, and this is where the title comes in, bringing additional context to the image.

Often enough, when I look at an old image, it’s only when I read the title that I truly understand the photograph. Sometimes the image makes more sense after being able to reflect on the circumstances of the past. As if the title lends an additional explanation to the image; an explanation that completes it.

This series of images is meant to be a successor of my zine DARK CORNERS that I released last year. Following its release, many of my followers asked me for prints and I always liked the idea of my photographs being displayed on a bigger scale. That’s why I am offering these nine pictures as prints – each limited to nine.

They come printed on fine art Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta paper and will be hand-signed and numbered. I printed them myself with the help of the facilities at d’mage Berlin. You can choose between three different sizes and I made sure the prints fit into common frames.

Paraíso

During the 12 months prior to my trip, I was working three jobs and finishing my studies. At the same time, I was trying to save every bit of money for my journey. And everyone knows how little money you have while you’re studying! This meant no going out, no dining out, no shopping, no nothing.

After I arrived at my first destination – Brazil – I made my way to Ihla Grande. A wonderful island with virtually no cars where I spent a week. For the first time in ages, it felt like I was able to leave all the worries behind, and really just enjoy myself. I took this photograph while hiking through the island’s jungle with some newfound friends. Paraíso translates into paradise in Spanish and Portuguese.

Isolation

While traveling through Peru we met a couple of people that had done some amazing multi-day treks through the Peruvian Andes. The more I heard about it the more I wanted to go. After some research, a nine-day hiking loop called the Huayhuash Trek caught my attention and I was instantly hooked.

It was supposed to be one of the most breathtaking treks in the world. There were guided tours but these were expensive and I liked the idea of doing it on our own. We prepared ourselves for three days: We rented equipment, planned the route, and bought food for 11 days (just to be safe).

We had to take three busses just to get to the start of the trail and the next nine days, we were above 4000m. Your dreams become incredibly vivid – almost tangible and even weirder than your normal dreams when sleeping at such high altitudes.

I remember waking up and needing a few moments before I realized that it was all just a dream. And no matter how much sleep you get, you never really feel rested the next day. I remember sleeping for 13 hours one night and feeling just as tired the next morning. Every day we had to climb 600-1000m to cross a pass. The highest one was 5060m above sea level.

It was physically and mentally exhausting. The shoes my girlfriend had rented broke after the first few days and we had to fix them with rope and tape. We experienced everything between rain, hail, sun, heavy winds, snow, and thunderstorms. This trek is to this day the most adventurous thing I have ever done in my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

What was most intriguing about this trip was the fact that we met no more than ten people over the course of nine days. We went entire days without seeing another person. Being truly isolated is a weird feeling that’s hard to explain. Somewhere between crushing and liberating.

I took this photograph on one of those days.

Lethargy

Eight months into my trip and I was in Quito, Ecuador with my girlfriend. We had previously spent one month in the Peruvian mountains. Three of these weeks consisted of hiking through the Andes, living in a tent and off a diet of oats, instant mashed potatoes, nuts, and dried fruits.

In the highest capital of the world, we were house-sitting for a few weeks to take a break from constantly moving around. I was tired of traveling and hated the city. It was cold, grey, desolate, and lonely – you weren’t supposed to be on the street after the sun went down.

The sun set at 6pm… Because of this I barely left the house – lethargy had kicked in. I did nothing but watch the Football World Cup at ungodly hours and binge-watch YouTube videos late into the nights. Thankfully my girlfriend regularly dragged me out to go and do things. This image was taken on the Cotopaxi 5000m above sea level.

Deafening Sounds

During our time in Quito, Ecuador, me and my girlfriend went on different trips. For the previous seven months, we had spent every moment together, and it was nice to spend some time apart. She went into the deep jungle while I went on to visit Baños, where I cycled to Puyo, roughly 70km away.

I rented the crappiest bike, got chased by dogs that I’m pretty sure wanted to eat me, but on the upside, I got to see this waterfall. I had previsualized this image right from the start but initially took the wrong entrance which made me end up on the platform below. Out of all the waterfalls I’ve seen in my life, this one was by far the loudest – just looking at it makes my ears ring.

Rare Rage

We got into a really bad argument with a hostel owner in Cali, Colombia, that tried to rip us off. I will spare you the details but I ended up throwing the money into her face and insulting her with every slur I had previously learned in Spanish. Not my proudest moment, and I remember feeling really ashamed for getting carried away and letting myself getting dragged into what seemed like a silly fight over little money. Pride, ego, and principle got the best of me that day. (I should have read Ryan Holliday’s books about stoicism earlier.)

This image was taken at Laguna de la Cocha – a very inconspicuous lagoon close to the border between Colombia and Ecuador. There were no tourists. The place was empty. This gave it an eerie vibe.

Cloud

The last trip my girlfriend and I took before she returned home was San Andrés. It’s an island in the Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Nicaragua, but it belongs to Colombia.

Have you ever seen those famous images of pristine white beaches, turquoise water, and blue skies of some Caribbean island? This is what San Andrés looks and feels like every single day. The average temperature throughout the year is 27°C, it smells like weed everywhere and every night you can admire its beautiful starlit skies.

We found a guy on Airbnb who had bought some land on the island. He had built small bungalows and all of the facilities one needs on his own. We spent many long nights cooking, smoking, talking, and drinking with him. Our stay on the island was like heaven.

I took this image on a boat trip to one of the smaller neighboring islands. I really like clouds.

Solitary

After 13 months in Latin America, I made my way to New Zealand where I continued my travels. In between, I had a stopover in California, where I briefly met friends and family. The majority of my time in South America was spent in good company – my girlfriend and friends I made along the way became close companions. Everyone who has traveled for an extended amount of time knows how close you can get in such a short space of time, and how much it sucks to say goodbye in the end.

Parting ways always puts me in a weird mood. I remember not speaking to anybody for about a week after my girlfriend had flown home. When I landed in Los Angeles it was no different. Strolling through the city, I came across The Broad where a girl was waiting for the bus. In this busy city that almost 20 million people call their home, she was all by herself. Something about that resonated with me.

Turmoil

Close to the end of my journey, I did a two-month road trip with my good friend Kai over the South Island of New Zealand. Although it was an amazing trip, it was overshadowed at times by uncertainty about the future. We both questioned what we had done professionally for the past 10 years and neither of us was too sure about what the future would bring. Both of us had just come out of relationships previously and needed to process that. At the same time, the Coronavirus had just started to make the news. The future looked bleak.

We came across this scene when we visited Mt. Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain – and a storm started to brew behind us.

Seguro

My last stop before my trip got cut short was in Vietnam. Things started out strange due to the Coronavirus outbreak during my time there. We got kicked out of bars because the police were slowly shutting everything down. Tourist cities were becoming ghost towns. Entire islands were put on lockdown, and we got shouted at in the streets for not wearing masks (by people without masks – because white people have Corona).

My original plan was to fly to India from Vietnam and catch a connecting flight to Tajikistan where my parents are living. On the day before my flight, India decided to close its borders, which meant I couldn’t board my flight. I was stuck in Hanoi, and on top of that, my hostel had to close – but thankfully I was allowed to stay.

I ended up being the last guest there. In the end, I even struggled to find food since everything was closed. Airlines stopped operating one by one while I desperately tried to get to my parents. In the end, I spent a fortune to take one of the last flights back home to Germany.

This image was taken on a five-day motorcycle trip – Ha Giang Loop – in the northern mountains of Vietnam. Most of the people I met who took the trip had accidents or knew someone who was involved in one. I also saw a few but managed to stay safe.

Seguro is Spanish for safe/certain.


About the author: Dariush Bohlmann is a photographer currently based in Berlin, Germany. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Bohlmann’s work on his website and Instagram. You can purchase his zine here. This article was also published here.

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