#FollowMeTo…Transcontinental Bliss

Contributed by Victoria James

The Russian photographer, Murad Osmann, has caused quite an online stir with his stunning images of international locales starring his gorgeous girlfriend and journalist, Nataly Zakharova. The couple’s adventures together are documented on Osmann’s Instagram account, stamped with #FollowMeTo. Osmann’s photos follow Zakharova as she explores Barcelona, Berlin, Hong Kong, New York and Bali- along with Ikea and a bowling alley. What is so special about Osmann’s images compared to the millions of other photos couples post of themselves while on vacation? In a word, mystery.

See, Osmann’s photos don’t actually show his face, or ever his girlfriend’s. While each photograph features an exotic location, the couple’s position is always the same: Zakharova leading Osmann by the hand, as she continues to move forward. Who are they? Where are they going? What are they doing? Questions like these race through the viewer’s mind. The effect makes the viewer feel as if she is leading them, if only for a moment.

Because you don’t see her face, it allows you to imagine she is anybody; the beautiful girl you saw earlier on the beach, the stunning woman from across that crowded bar or the love of your life whom you’ve decided to go on a trip with. Osmann’s images invoke such romance because of this element of mystery. While many people have seen countless representations of the Great Wall of China or the Eiffel Tower, they have likely never been guided by the hand by such an alluring and enigmatic young woman.

Osmann’s photos speak to some of humanity’s most basic desires: love, companionship, adventure and freedom. It is stimulating to view his images, full of life, beauty and energy. It reminds me of a recent conversation with a co-worker of mine. He spent a precious week of his allotted two weeks’ vacation time in Iquitos, Peru with no electricity, hot water or air conditioning. Upon his return, he said he felt incredibly refreshed and relaxed after spending a week in the Amazonian jungle. How could someone achieve such emotional and physical rejuvenation after traveling thousands of miles to arrive in a foreign country with none of the first world’s basic amenities? That’s easy, his love of travel. My co-worker was temporarily transplanted into a new country and was able to transcend a new culture with its unique social and linguistic norms. Not to mention, he may or may not have had a beautiful guide to help him enjoy the best of what Iquitos has to offer.

Whether summiting Mount Kilimanjaro or roughing it on the Inca Trail, we humans love to explore and connect with others along the way. Having the ability to share such incredible experiences with someone, whether it’s your hot Russian girlfriend, best friend or all of your Twitter followers, is a powerful and exciting dynamic of globalized society today. Why not take advantage of it?

Photos by Murad Osmann