Seasons in Mongolia

Mongolian horses have been aptly described to me as “half-wild.” Despite their undersized stature in comparison to their Western counterparts, lifetimes of grazing, running, and playing with the herd have left their spirits uninhibited and whole—gruff and abrasive in both texture and personality.

Inhabiting the same wild space as their horses, the Mongolian and Kazakh herders I lived with reflected on the difficulties that come with managing a herd. But they also regularly spoke of the freedom their lifestyle affords and the pride it instills in them. As I traveled throughout the countryside, I tried to capture moments of pride and showcase everyday occurrences and interactions as they exist within traditional herding culture.

These images are representative of over a year’s worth of photography throughout Mongolia. I have chosen them because I believe they capture the drama, tranquility, gripping cold, and utopian qualities that are all a part of life in the Mongolian countryside. It can be easy to romanticize traditional cultures, and I have to be careful knowing that my photography can be a part of that process. Artistry is no excuse for ignorance. As a photographer documenting another culture, I felt it necessary to approach my work as an anthropologist. That meant researching, learning the language, observing, and participating in herder culture.

Time passes seasonally for Mongolian herders as they live alongside their animals. Thoroughly capturing life in the Mongolian countryside takes time, the passing of seasons, and a willingness to slow down and wait.

My goal is for these images to leave viewers curious about Mongolian herding cultures, with more questions than they had before. With a new framework to think differently about a specific culture, I hope this series opens the potential to thinking differently about traditional cultures in general.