After Photographing Nearly 500 Abandoned Locations, I Came Across Stunning Abkhazia
Georgia had been on my travel bucket list for a couple of years, waiting for a perfect opportunity for me to sit down and do the proper planning. Mind you, it took 3 months before I was able to embark on my urban exploration quest.
When I started preparing for the journey, I had already been photographing abandoned places for nearly four years. Having captured many places to see all over Europe - Poland, Germany, and Portugal among them - I felt an urge to aim for something unique, something that would ignite a spark of adventure back into my traveler's life.
Winter was drawing to a close by the time we had arrived in Georgia. By the time the first five days of the trip were over, we had traveled high and wide across Georgia searching for tourist attractions and historical places, albeit not quite blessed with the gentlest weather. Oftentimes, it would impede our efforts to take shots of the stunning scenery.
The last couple of days were busy with us photographing former Sanatoriums. Some of them, for the past 25 years, had sheltered refugees in Western Georgia who escaped the war in Abkhazia, which, incidentally, came to be our next destination a few days later. Personally, I found the war to be still very much present in people's minds, creating a fragile, somewhat corrupt, and lawless land.
Driving through the small villages to our first photography destination, I was silent. I stared through the window trying to make sense of the surroundings, as the traveling itself was rather surreal. We drove past abandoned buildings that once were grandeur homes, factories, warehouses, and cars mixed in with beautiful rolling mountains and green vegetation.
On a few occasions, I had to remind myself that this journey was about the overall series, a body of work and not just the singular shots - not that Abkhazia had no portfolio shots to offer - yet, in my mind, the historical buildings were meant to complement each other this time around.
And as I stood atop these marvelous landmarks I was constantly reminded of all the history that had happened there, photographing the architecture designs in their prime.
You see, the thing about this land and about this journey, too, was that every turn and corner were a surprise. Abkhazia was raw, and it was also beautiful with its charming residents but most of all - the de-facto state just screamed photogenic.