Some people spend their summers relaxing on the beach. For this photographer and designer duo, they wanted more than that. For Corinne Thrash, she was looking to travel to build out her portfolio work to direct her career. For designer Hannah Mintek, she knew she wanted to prepare for the magazine project that she would be working on all Fall. We asked them a few questions about their trip to the Republic of Georgia, their collaboration, and of course, we check out the images that they returned with.
What is the name and concept of your magazine and how did you, or what role did you play in facilitating the visual production of the photography?
Mintek: It is a travel magazine called Versant, aimed at highlighting the culture/politics/history of a small country or region of the world at a time. It’s main audience is for those who are already well traveled and want an insider’s perspective so that once in country they can have a well informed conversation about the place they are visiting. It’s not the sort of magazine that will give you walking tours or a top ten list of best spa getaways, but rather an in-depth look at a place so that you arrive with a good cultural understanding and ability to respect the country on a deeper level. For the example issue I am making of Versant I chose to highlight a country I know quite a lot about already.
From 2005-2007 I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Georgia, and then lived off and on in Georgia until 2010. I still try to go back to visit my ‘family’ and friends as often as possible. This summer happened to be a great opportunity for me to have time to reconnect in Georgia and also get a jump start on the creation of this magazine. In talking to Corrine about her love of travel photography I realized there could be a great collaboration between us. When we got to Georgia in September I had a strong sense of the type of stories I wanted to highlight in my magazine, so I curated our travel accordingly, visiting historic sites, taking us to hard to reach mountain villages, and introducing Corinne to culture on a personal level with the connections I have. I had entire faith in Corinne’s abilities to create compelling imagery, my job was to just make sure we got to as many amazing locations as possible. It has been a pleasure to go back through her photography and pick out may favorite ones for the magazine.
How does this project fit into your body of work and how has it affected your direction around your career as a photographer?
Thrash: One aspect I would like to focus on in my photographic career is travel & travel lifestyle photography, so traveling and taking pictures specifically for an assignment was a great way to get a glimpse of what that could possibly be like. It’s always nice to travel and take pictures, but this trip was more fulfilling and rewarding for me as a photographer because of it’s purpose and the known subsequent usage of my material. Traveling and photographing, having amazing experiences, meeting wonderful people, and getting to make images, especially with the creative director, is something I would love to continue to have more opportunities to do in the future.
Tell us about an article in the magazine and how the imagery pairs with the written content.
Mintek: There is a lovely article about the loss of population in tiny village communities of Svaneti, up in the Caucasian Mountain Range.The article explains how a few families are holding on because tourism is allowing people to witness their history and culture. Corinne and I got the chance to spend a few days living with a my Svan friend’s mountain family, seeing how they hold on to dying traditions and balance the influx of technologies and modernizations that are quickly sweeping through their region. Corinne’s photographs from Svaneti were so beautiful that it was hard not to want to simply design a book of photography. Honoring the magazine, its readers, the people we met, the culture, and Corinne’s imagery meant I gave lots of breathing room for her images on the spreads. Her shots of doors and windows helped give a sense of entering a different realm, an unfamiliar but fascinating place. I let her photography take the driver’s seat and simplified the layout for the text to ride along as support, simply giving you the details that the photographs can’t tell.
Favorite moment from the trip?
Thrash: There were so many, it’s impossible to pick one out as the best, between all the amazing people that I meant that were friends and family of Hannah’s, the culture, the food, the language, the driving, the roads, every day and moment was special. One article that Hannah wanted to definitely feature in her magazine and get imagery for was the Georgian Supra, she sent me the article before we left so I could read about it and get a better understanding of what supras are, what they’re about, how they work, etc. Her Georgian father is an incredible toastmaster of supras (a very traditionally male role) and her Georgian brother has the gift as well – Hannah got to experience their toasting and toasts for 2 years plus, and has this amazing way with words and the Georgian language that surprises and delights all Georgians. Hannah’s Georgian mother prepared this incredible supra for Hannah while we were there and witnessing and photographing all the incredible things coming to life in front of my eyes that I had read about was incredible. But, it was the love, care, attention, tradition, and joy the act of preparing for and having a supra for Georgians that was even more amazing to see. The pinnacle of that experience, and an incredibly special moment, was Hannah’s Georgian father asking her to be the toastmaster for the supra, and the subsequent beautiful, heartfelt, and emotional toasts that followed from Hannah and the reciprocation of all her friends and family there. And then of course, Hannah and her Georgian brother drinking a toast out of the traditional drinking horns.
Biggest learning from the project so far?
Mintek: Concepting is great fun, but getting deep into magazine design layout is the hard part for me. I think I could spend a year designing Versant and not be done, because there is just so much to learn about good magazine design.
I will say though, I’m 100% down to travel again anywhere with Corinne, and as confident as ever that she can make any photograph project a home run. I am completely indebted to her for all the photographs she took for this magazine to happen!
What kind of equipment was necessary and maybe some details on innovative or creative ways you made some shot happen?
Thrash: I brought my DSLR with a couple of different lenses to give me the capability of wider angles and zoom, monopod, batteries/charger, cards, card reader, hard drive, etc. I actually had a massive equipment failure with my DSLR, about three-quarters of the way through our day filming and shooting in Vardzia, I was changing my lenses a lot and going between video and stills and my camera just completely stopped working. Luckily Hannah had brought her camera and some lenses with her, so we had backups that weren’t just our iPhones. We did a lot of stopping by the side of the road, Hannah was an incredible driver and support in getting images – there were a few top of car and fence posts used for stabilization with long exposures, and out of the window shots as we drove by places.
Look out for a follow-up on this with more images of the layout of the magazine to see how the collaboration ended up taking shape.