160102 - Steven Martin

Welcome / Travels in 2016 and Beyond

2nd January 2016


A new year is a good time to start something new, and I'm intending to use this space to blog more regularly about my photography and travels in the coming weeks and months. The last couple of years have been my most photographically successful yet - 2014 was a highlight in terms of the sheer variety of places I managed to travel to, and the photographs I came back with, while 2015 was a huge year of transition, as I relocated from London to Birmingham in order to retrain as a History teacher after a career in publishing and, in doing so, took advantage of an extended period of time off to visit Greece and Indonesia.

2016 will be quite different. For the first half of the year, I'll be wholly devoted to my teacher training course - an intensive programme that so far has been extremely time consuming and possibly more challenging than I'd expected. As such, apart from the potential for a short city break in Easter, there won't be any travel on the cards. From the end of June, when my course concludes, I'll have two months of time off before starting a (as yet unfound) new position as a History teacher in a UK school.

Nothing is certain or decided yet, and so - instead of actual plans - I have a wishlist of locations and equipment that I would like to work towards realising in 2016 or - if that's not possible - 2017 and beyond.

Places

Iran - top of my list is a country that has only recently truly opened up to mass tourism, following the conclusion of the US-Iran nuclear agreement. Despite Iran naturally lending itself to a two week trip (the Tehran - Shiraz route), it's unlikely I'll get to visit this year, as Easter is the best time to visit. So Easter 2017 seems like a more realistic option.

Greece - I loved Greece so much last year: the beautiful beaches, food and weather of the Cyclades were the ideal location for a relaxing one-week break. It's pretty certain that 2016 will involve a two-week trip to Greece - be it the Ionian or the Dodecanese Islands.

Peru - my next big long-distance travel destination of choice is Peru - but this would require at least three if not four weeks, a more substantial commitment. August is a good time to visit (indeed, teacher holidays lend themselves more to South America than Asia, though Indonesia is a notable exception), so this might be a possibility.

Uzbekistan / Kyrgyzstan - I am very keen to visit the Stans, and of the five potential options these two would complement each other nicely. The blistering heat of Uzbekistan in August would be offset by the beauty of the Silk Road sites of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, while the natural mountainous beauty of Kyrgyzstan would be perfect in August, but also complement the historical sites of Uzbekistan nicely. Of the other options, Turkmenistan would be the most logistically challenging re visas, Tajikistan is possibly too far afield and requires its own, more adventurous trip, and Kazakhstan is, well, huge - a location in its own right (although a trip to Uzbekistan / Kyrgyzstan could potentially involve a stopover in Almaty). While this trip isn't planned yet, a shortlist of locations I'd be keen to visit can be seen here.

Equipment

I don't need any new photography equipment. But, if I have the money, earned through gifts at birthday and Christmas, and through the selling of my images on Offset, I'd love to invest in a new Fuji Camera System. This would include - to begin with - the Fuji XT-1 camera with the 18-55 kit lens and the 56mm 1.2. However this would cost A LOT of money and perhaps this money would be better invested elsewhere! We'll see.

Watch this space

I'll try to blog more regularly about travel, photography and other things here in the future! So watch this space.