- To photograph the voyagers on the Silk Rail-Road
- To share the unexplored cultures and faces of Kazakh and Chinese people today (through portrait photography and life stories in a photo-narrative format & live multimedia updates from the road including videos and sound clips)
- To create the 'Silk Rail Road: From Astana to Beijing' photography book (available as e-book, softcover, hardcover & gallery prints).
What is this project all about?
The ‘Silk Rail Road: From Astana to Beijing’ photography book is an intimate portrait series of the voyagers (we’re shooting the trains and stations too!) along the Silk Road Rail. We will tell the stories behind the people we meet on their journey from Astana, Kazakhstan to Beijing, China. Retracing Marco Polo's footsteps, our photographs will capture the richness of cultures, lifestyles and individuals on the rail. Ultimately, our project creates a voice for Kazakh and Chinese people to visually illustrate their lives to a wider audience on their own terms.
What's our inspiration?
As strange as it may seem, the ideas behind this project grew out of an interest in the life stories of everyday subway-riding New Yorkers and Kazakh nomadic tribes. At first, we thought about how everyday people share this intimate space on the subway, but they don’t really talk to each other. On previous journeys, in Kazakhstan, we met pastoral families who loved to share their fascinating life stories, lifestyles and culture with us. On one train ride (many of which are over 24 hours) we got to know a group that shared vodka with us, telling us that they would be insulted if we didn’t drink with them. Their enthusiasm to meet us made us realize that in contrast to the subway, the Silk Road train was a cultural exchange in which there were stories to be shared.
As we worked on the project, our personal connection with the series grew stronger. As first and second-generation immigrants of Kazakh and Chinese origin, this series reflects our fears and struggles of not belonging. There were many times in our lives where we didn’t feel like we belonged at home because we just looked different. In China, there was a sense of amusement, ridicule and overall ambivalence in being a so-called ‘westernized’ Chinese person. Ultimately this portrait series not only explores the faces of Kazakh and Chinese people, but also delves deeper to examine what it means to be Kazakh and Chinese today, offering visual language on contemporary life at the Silk Road.
What will the photography book look like?
Our multimedia approach to this project is unique. The photography book is a series of portraits (in a narrative format) accompanied with small life stories to evoke a sense of who each person is. There will be fascinating life details, historical knowledge and a digital soundtrack to enrich the reading experience. Our Ebook, on the other hand, is made to be as interactive as possible. On the Ebook page, we are embedding the atmospheric sounds of the Silk Road. Along with each portrait of the voyagers, there will be the sounds of his voice included so that you can not only see him, but also hear him. Our blog will also feature live updates from the Silk Road including various videos (landscapes and interviews) and sound clips (eg. the sounds of a marketplace). We want you to feel as if you were on the Silk Road.
Where are we traveling?
This series is a photographic journey over 2,500 miles. This adventure starts in Astana, Kazakhstan as we board the ‘Silk Route’ train to Almaty and Oskemen.
Following Almaty, we board a train (34 hours) straight to China, where we will be entering into the Xinjiang province.
Here, we are visiting the fascinating cities of Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar, an old trading junction on the Silk Road.
Once we leave Urumqi, we are boarding a train (24 hours) to Gansu province, the beginning of the ‘old’ China proper. In this province, we are visiting the capital Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Linxia and Jiayu, the beginning of the Great Wall.
From the Gansu province, we will boarding a train (15 hours) to the Shaanxi province to reach Xi’an, the traditional centre of the Silk Road. After Xi’an, we will finally end our trip in Beijing.
Where does all the money go?
- Firstly, a portion of money pledged on this trip will be used to send postcards and newsletters to the people we meet on the Silk Road. It's important for us to establish a relationship. As such, we want them to see their part in our project.
- Secondly, the majority of the pledges (roughly 75%) cover the costs of creating the book itself. This includes:
1. Studio Time - e.g. editing suite for video and photography
2. Graphic Design - e.g. working with our graphic designer; interactive media development (online/print/iban/azw)
3. Executive Editing - e.g. quality control
4. Production Costs:
a. material costs - e.g. 100 GSM Inkjets Pearl paper; perfect /cross-stitch binding
b. printing costs - e.g. Giclee prints
c. sample prints
d. isbn & iban number purchases
a. Inventory & Warehouse storage
b. Shipping, Packaging & Distribution
- Thirdly, the remaining portion of the pledges will help cover parts of the costs of the journey.
So if the Silk Rail Road photography book has interested you, please explore the opportunities on the right side of the page and pass the word to anyone you think would be interested. Together we can see this project through, and in return you will be receiving one inspiring and beautiful book!
Thank you very much for reading. We hope you are as inspired as we are about our project. Follow us on our blog to see exciting updates and photos from the road!
If you are an international backer, please include $15 dollars more for international shipping and handling.
If you are with a shop and are looking to sell copies in your store, please contact us.
- (32 days)