Uzbekistan – Photo Tip

Don't be afraid to ask

Although the influence of western media is making it less popular, the unibrow is still considered a sign of beauty for unmarried women in many parts of Central Asia, especially among the Tajiks, who make up ten per cent of Uzbek population. Where it does not exist naturally, it is drawn in with usma, a traditional green herb that is dried and then ground into a paste.

Photo by Kieran Meeke

Uzbekistan – Photo Tip

Don't be afraid to ask

No matter how dramatic the scenery or impressive the sights, no country comes alive until you connect with its people.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

I struggled for years to take good photos of faces, trying to sneak pictures with big lens or hidden cameras. Then I learned the simple secret: ask. It takes no effort to learn a few words of any language and a simple "Hello", "please" and "thank you" will go far.

The worst that can happen is that the person you approach will say "No", whereas being caught trying to "steal" a photo can cause a nasty incident – not to mention being plain rude. And sometimes even a "no" can be overcome if you persist and make it clear you are genuine.

In Uzbekistan, very few people said "no" and it was just as common for others nearby to ask to be photographed as well. The Tashkent family of this small girl with her wonderful unibrow were delighted to show her off, while I found the quiet dignity of this older couple in Smarakand very touching. With no language in common, we were able to make a real connection and, despite the real wonders of Samarkand, they are my best memory of it.

The skull-cap or tubeteika, as worn by this elderly man in Samarkand, varies in design from region...

The skull-cap or tubeteika, as worn by this elderly man in Samarkand, varies in design from region to region in Uzbekistan and has its origins in the pointed cap worn under a turban. It can be folded to tuck into a waist sash and the four sides carry symbols to ward off evil, usually in the form of plants that protect the health. Photo by Kieran Meeke

Kieran Meeke

Kieran Meeke

Sony A900

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/250
ISO
200
Focal
28 mm

The skull-cap or tubeteika, as worn by this elderly man in Samarkand, varies in design from region to region in Uzbekistan and has its origins in the pointed cap worn under a turban. It can be folded to tuck into a waist sash and the four sides carry symbols to ward off evil, usually in the form of plants that protect the health.