The wildest terrain against the warmest moments. Photographer Michele Martinelli explores the lives of Mongolia’s nomadic people
By Tina Jacob
Michele Martinelli is an acclaimed photojournalist whose work has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Photogrvphy and Edge of Humanity. He has a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. Martinelli was also a finalist in photo competitions like the Siena International Photo Awards, World Nomads, and Travel Photographer of the Year 2017.
Q: Why Mongolia in particular?
A: Mongolia is an immense country where the Steppe and desert is interspersed with tall mountains. The vastness of space makes a man feel physically small, but the soul expands! Though the climate makes it a difficult place to inhabit, these nomads have managed to live in complete harmony with nature. While their faces are weather-worn and their lives full of toil, they have such pride in their homeland and history. I wanted to understand this for myself by treading the land and meeting the people. I found that they were incredibly hospitable, and curious about other cultures.
I think in the future, it would be interesting to explore another aspect of Mongolian life. A lot of young people leave the steppe and nomadic life in search of the modernity of cities. But this move is often difficult and threatens the continuity of nomadic culture.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced in taking these photos?
A: Logistics were the hardest. Mongolia has a very large landmass, and I had to figure out how to maximize it in my twenty days of travel. I found that the best light for shooting was early in the morning and in the evening from dusk to dark, so I did most of my travelling during the day.
Q: What did you try to communicate through these photos?
I find that I’m drawn to the anthropological and environmental facets of travel. At the heart of this project, and all of my photography, is the desire for my photos to portray the verity of the moment and be as true to the subjects as possible. I think that as much as I respect the craft of photography, it is not simply about me taking pictures. It is really about the people who choose to give me moments to capture.
Check out more of Michele’s work here .