Sakartvelo TOP-1 – Why is Georgia number 1 for the Belarusian photographer?
20 January, 2020
Sakartvelo TOP-1 – Why is Georgia number 1 for the Belarusian photographer?
Georgia among Georgians is called Sakartvelo. This is the name how the Belarusian tourist calls this country. Georgia among Georgians is called Sakartvelo. This is the name how the Belarusian tourist calls this country. Sergey Morozov visited Georgia in July and traveled by car, visited almost every part of Georgia and after the trip reached out to Georgian Journal to provide us with pictures and an amazing video. What did he like most in Georgia? – He spoke with Journal about
his experience in Sakartvelo.

How did you like Georgia? Did it live up to your expectations?

We are accustomed to the plain. Last year we were in Gorny Altai - I liked the mountains, the authenticity of the local culture. Even then, it flashed through my head that I wanted even more mountains, a unique history, and culture. For some reason, I recalled Sakartvelo, which is famous for its hospitality, and said to myself and my wife: "We are going to Georgia next year." I always thoroughly prepare for trips - I read all the available information, make up a route, study history, cultural peculiarities – it was already clear that something extraordinary was waiting for us. At the entrance to the checkpoint Upper Lars I was amazed by the landscapes. As you travel, you become more and more excited. This excitement disappeared only on the way back after a few hundred kilometers through Russia, when Mount Ushba disappeared from view. Georgia has surpassed all expectations, both in terms of visual images, impressions, and in terms of knowledge of the country's history and culture. I am a historian, therefore, I am especially anxious about historical and cultural values. And now, when they tell me they treat tourists quite well in Georgia, I boldly answer: all of you are lying - in Georgia they are INCREDIBLY WELCOMING towards guests who are perceived as messengers of God! I visited 16 countries (yes, a little, but still) and now I have Sakartvelo TOP-1!

You've been and seen many countries. Is there something that makes Georgia distinguished?

What immediately catches the eye and distinguishes Sakartvelo is pure piety - not a showy, not fanatical, without a pompous cult and rituals. I was surprised by how people respect and listen to the priests, calling them fathers. Little was able during the trip to talk with the monks and priests - made an impression of good, good, sincerely religious people; this kind attitude, a peculiar love for one's neighbor - one was impressed by the attitude towards children, especially the younger daughter (almost 5 years), right every policeman, the seller in the store, or simply passers-by strove to stroke his head, pat her cheeks and say something affectionate or treat candy; This is a deep story, and you have kept the continuity of that long history. In many European countries, there are historical monuments either from the Paleolithic-Neolithic era or dating back to 11-13th centuries, which has no direct connection with their modernity. In Sakartvelo, a visually and tactilely tangible story goes back to the 4th century. I'm not talking about the cave cities, such as Uplistsikhe, which go back to the 2nd millennium BC or that Sakartvelo was part of the semi-mythical stories about the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. This is all very impressive to me! And it makes you very different from the countries where I was. In other countries, they are trying to almost artificially prolong their history deep into at least a couple of centuries, deriving themselves either from the Romans, sometimes from the Vikings, but in Georgia, you can see it all with the naked eye.

From your professional point of view, what would you advise to other photographers who travel to Georgia?

As a videographer, I would rather make a few remarks and than give out tips for those traveling to Sakartvelo for the very purpose of shooting: 1. Do not rush. I had very limited time. And many objects look incredibly beautiful only at certain times of the day or look great, but the picture is very different at night and during the day or with the sun and fog; if possible, plan shooting of significant points for two or three days. Awareness of importance, significance, and meaninglessness of a part of the cadres came to me already when I looked through the material that I had shot during the day, but we had already left the place and could not retake or finish the picture. 2. It is impossible to see all the beauty from the country, and many objects from the earth can only be photographed from certain angle, which is far from always successful, which is limited by the geometry of the landscape, only the drone will allow you to lift the angle restriction and see the whole "beauty". Experienced photographers already know all other technical details. Yes, I had with me two lenses 24-85 and 75-210 mm. 90% of the frames from the ground is done after a first try. If you are limited in luggage weight, then you can limit yourself to "standard" lenses with focal lenses ranging from 18-135, 24-85, 24-105 mm.

Which place impressed you the most in Georgia?

My favorite is Ushguli. I even bought a picture of a local artist in Tbilisi in which large strokes are almost schematically indicated: a shepherd in a sheep's cap and a hat, several sheep below, some Svaneti towers above and a little further white peaks of the mountains. I hung it in my office right in front of me and nostalgically recall the atmosphere, the spirit of that place. Many experiences are connected with the trip there and certain failures with the road (we were still in the car) and the weather (they did not catch the sunset at night, at night I went, took pictures of the village, heard wolves howling in the mountains, and at night was the strongest in my thunderstorm and downpour life, waited until dinner until the landslides were cleared and drove back in the rain, taking with me only a dozen frames and a couple of minutes of video, although I thought that Ushguli would be the apotheosis of the entire photo-video shooting in Sakartvelo). This is the place where I would go back for a few days. Even without a camera. Although the beauty and depth of history, of course, there were still many places that left an indelible impression: Gelati Monastery, Martvili Canyon, Goderdzi Pass, black beach in Ureki, night Batumi, cable car in Khulo, Trinity Church in Stepantsminda, and even the Military road, the turbulent flows of the Ingura river, the center of Tbilisi, the David-Gareja monastery and the Kakhetian steppe and much more.

You've taken many photos in the country. Which one is the most valuable for you and why?

Sakartvelo is incredible with its landscapes. Therefore, there is no specifically favorite photo. But so far, on the desktop, I have put a photo from the canyon near the Cross Pass. The weather turned out to be harsh, but sometimes the sun looked through and now this play of light, shadows, and rain in the distance in the canyon gave an amazing picture. Very similar in scale, weather and colors came out photos from the Chalaadi glacier. This will probably be the next picture on the desktop. By the way, on the glacier, my wife, my children, and I celebrated our ten-year marriage.

You were in Tbilisi when there were still demonstrations in Tbilisi, near the parliament. What is your impression when you see the demonstrators? Is there a difference in this regard between Georgia and Belarus?

I got the impression of a holiday. The historical flag of Belarus is red and white, and in Sakartvelo, the same palette is a very elegant, festive combination of colors that always uplifts the mood and patriotic spirit. I was amazed by the respect of the demonstrators and the police. Something like this does not happen in our country. A demonstration that opposes the current government would not have been allowed at all, or would simply be dispersed by force. Therefore, I was glad that when people wanted to speak out or demand something from the government, they can just get together, go outside even under government buildings and demand it as much as they see fit. And the police performs its function - it provides order and does not become an iron shield of power against its people. In general, during the trip, I was very much in love with your police (and border guards). Having disassembled the rules several times, I needed help several times - always very tactfully, correctly and benevolently came to help or warned against violations without legal consequences.

View more pictures here

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