Monday, June 15, 2009

Of Uzbekistan: Market Day

We spent a morning at a market in the small town of Urgut, not too far away from Samarkand. We've done a lot of markets around the world, and always enjoy them. The staff photographer, like many photographers, loves the variety of sights and people doing interesting things in public markets. Of course, in a lot of markets (e.g. Guatemala), there are a lot of people who are not excited about having their picture taken, whether due to general principle or exhaustion from so many tourists wanting to take a picture of the colorful vegetables and the equally colorful local person.

When digital photography first became affordable, stories abounded of how excited those colorful locals were to be able to see themselves on the little digital camera screen. Your correspondent had dismissed these tales as largely apocryphal. But, wonder of wonders, in Urgut, lots of people really wanted their picture taken. I was wandering the market with a Swiss guy I had met at the guest house in Samarkand. We each had big obvious cameras with us. And the number of people who would say "Hey Mister" and then pantomime taking a picture was really surprising. Kids in particular were excited to see their miniature LCD-screen portraits, but even adults seemed to get a real kick out of it. The guy below, in particular, wanted a picture of himself talking on his mobile phone. Maybe he figured it made him look like rather than selling rice by the pound, he was selling grain futures on the world market.

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