Friday, October 10, 2014

Photography in Central Asia

Photography in Central Asia is risky. You might easily direct your camera towards an object that is off limits for photography. And the list of objects not to be phtographed is long. Perhaps the length of the list of forbidden fruits reflects the degree of suppressed freedom.
Allow me to tell you more about restrictions that apply.

It's a bad idea to photograph the entrance of an airport. I admit, I did it on arrival at Ashgabat and not knowing the rule I had been caught at once and after a few months in detention camp I was released again. No, but I had to erase the photograph. I had my revenge in Dazavauz, I didn't have to erase this photograph. Of course military installations, bridges, communication buildings, military, police are a bad idea for photography, too. In some streets in Ashgabat, you may take a picture on the right side, but not of the left side. Don't try to make a photograph of the president's palace! And the bazaar is off limits, too - this nearly broke my heart! And no wedding couples. But you may photograph the golden statues of the country's first dictator, eh president. Leaving the country, please don't try to make a photograph of the border. Never!

Military installations etc. are a bad idea in Uzbekistan, too. But all in all the list is shorter. But one shouldn't stop at a cotton field to take pictures of cotton pickers. The metro in Tashkent is off limits, too. And you shouldn't take pictures of the islamic administration building in Tashkent.
I agree that one of the first copies of the holy quran (really one of the few original written qurans!) shouldn't be photographed out of preservatory and religious concerns.

Simply leave out the border; else you can shoot at nearly everything and everyone (with camera) - usual discretion applies of course.

Also leave out the border. In Almaty you shouldn't take pictures of the Green Bazaar - actually nobody seemed to notice or made a fuss about it; but maybe it was just that I took photographs at the fruit & veggie section and not at the jeweller's. You might take pictures inside the metro in Almaty, but please not of the jeton selling booth; the ladies looked dapper with their side caps.

Some restrictions on photography are understandable, others are arbitrary at best. Some really are a nuisance. Maybe I shouldn't complain too much, having returned with more that 4000 pictures.

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