Last spring I was lucky enough to meet two enterprising young journalists in a cafe in Ulaanbaatar. Nina Wegner and Taylor Weidman were new to Mongolia and were going to spend the next six months researching, interviewing and photographing for a book about how Mongolian herding lifestyle is changing. It was their second book for their non-profit journalism organization, the Vanishing Cultures Project.
Meeting Nina and Taylor was kismet. So much of what drove them to start the Vanishing Cultures Project (long-form journalism, desire to cover people that are often overlooked, passion for international coverage and travel) is what led me to Mongolia.
Nina and Taylor started VCP while working in Nepal. Originally there for on a Fulbright Fellowship, Taylor and Nina soon discovered a remote tribe in the Himalayas whose customs had seen little change for the past century or so. They were granted exceptional access to this community, and their work turned into a beautiful and informative coffee table book (with a forward from the Dalai Lama!). They decided to donate the proceeds from this book back to cultural initiatives to support the Mustang people.
With the success of their Nepal project, they decided to continue working with this model. They are now spending a significant amount of time in a location – up to six months – and documenting a culture undergoing rapid change through writing and photography.
The endeavor is a rare and worthwhile one, and something I wish I’d thought of myself. But I didn’t, so I decided to do the next best thing.
I befriended Nina and Taylor and enthusiastically accompanied them on a couple trips to the Mongolian countryside. We exchanged contacts, research, skills, and more importantly, words of encouragement as we all struggled to cover a country we were still trying to figure out.
Here is a short promotional video I produced for the Vanishing Cultures Project. If you like the organization please support them by buying one of their gorgeous books or fabulous prints or simply by donating.
Watch More Videos from my collaboration with the Vanishing Cultures Project: