Channing Johnson Photography » A Photographer's Journal

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Me and My Passport

I’m sending my passport in to get renewed instead of saying I lost it. However, being dishonest was my first thought. My passport is really the last physical item that connects me with the places I’ve travelled to. Most of my traveling was done while studying abroad in Bulgaria and traveling through Eastern Europe in 2002. I guess memories are enough though. Pictures also remain. From the days of film. The infancy (more like pre-conception) of my photography career. Bear with me:


Bulgaria: I studied in Bulgaria for three months. I had no idea where it was before I left. It was the only place I could study, get credit towards graduation, and facilitate a significant culture shock. When I landed in Sofia I thought I had made a mistake. I was terrified. After getting to Blagoevgrad, the town I would call my home, I felt much more comfortable. And it was a sad, sad day when I left.


Serbia: I went home with some friends from to school to celebrate New Year’s in Belgrade.


Macedonia: Emil welcomed John and I to Skopje. He showed us around his hometown and even took us to an Amorphis show.


Romania: My friend Andrea invited me to spend Christmas with her and her mom in Timisoara. It was the best Christmas anyone could ever spend away from home.


Greece and Turkey: I went to Greece a few times. The first trip was to rescue my friend Adam on the island of Corfu. I got an e-mail from him saying he couldn’t access the ATMs and needed help leaving the island. That was the last e-mail I got from Adam (didn’t have a cell phone!) before my classmate Marie and I took some overnight busses (figuring out connections along the way) into Greece and on towards Corfu. We boarded a ferry and landed on the island as the sun came up. We didn’t know where on the island Adam was so we called some hostels describing him until we got a lead. When we got to the hostel we were told we had just missed him. He had gotten a hold of some money and moved on. Marie and I relaxed for the first time in 24 hours with two Mythos on the beach. That moment alone was worth all the trouble.

Adam and I eventually met up and spent some time in Bulgaria before going to Turkey. We came back to Greece so Adam could catch a plane back to the States and so I could return to school in Blagoevgrad. I snapped a picture of him on the bus as we parted ways.

greece-2turkey-1greece-1Ukraine: I left Bulgaria and made my way to Ukraine to find my ancestral homeland. After some miserable winter travel situations I got off a small bus in a small town where my great grandparents are from. I learned once I got there that Montastyriska doesn’t have a hotel. Soon after that I learned there were no more buses back to L’Viv. A man named Igor ended up taking me into his home, and I stayed there two days. It was an interesting trip with some unanticipated stress I turned into a multimedia project (it’s very rudimentary, and I’m embarrassed by my 22-year-old observations and voice. Please forgive me).


Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Austria: I flew home from Vienna, but traveled through Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic on the way. The Eastern European-solo-winter travel was miserable in the moment. But the edges of my memory are soft, and I now only remember it as one of the best times of my life.


Canada: Brooke and I met for the second time when she flew out to Michigan and drove with me to Vermont in 2006. We stayed a night in Niagara Falls.


Dominican Republic: Brooke and I honeymooned in Punta Cana. A beautiful place to catch our breaths and get excited for the rest of our lives.


Whew! What a trip down memory lane. I feel better about losing my passport now. I’m going to send it in and get me a new one I can fill up. Although our back porch is my favorite destination these days, it’s fun to go see something new once in awhile. And in 4 to 6 weeks I’ll be properly documented to do so.


Show Me » Channing Johnson Photography - […] weeks ago I took a trip to Kansas City to see my dear friends Adam and Melissa (and Brent!). Eating and drinking is usually the only thing on my travel itineraries, […]February 11, 2010 – 12:44 pm

Lissette - Do not fret. They will send it back to you hole-punched. :)September 28, 2009 – 8:30 am

Rachel - hey dude… did I tell you that I had a wedding commission in Bulgaria this year? what an interesting place. Ali and I had a wonderful time exploring, eating, photographing… etc.September 5, 2009 – 8:41 pm

megan - Hey channing – these are so beautiful. I forgot about that amazing slideshow you did for EPJ – I remember tearing up when I saw it.

One thing on passports: I got some new pages in my passport before I went traveling, and was really, really sad that the new pages are no longer blue, and now contain cheesy images and quotes from American folklore. Mine expires next year, and I am also woe to send it away. There are so many memories attached to those stamps – Jon and I can literally track our relationship with each one – that I fear I will forget all the places I’ve been. Still – all those new, blank pages to fill up? Exciting, my friend.August 27, 2009 – 7:36 pm

Courtney - Your photographs continue to impress and inspire me. Thank you for sharing these shots, they are simply incredible.August 27, 2009 – 3:30 pm

Josh Behan - wow channing, wow. Absolutely amazing images, especially the soup one. You have a gift my friend. I was not a photographer when I did most of my travelling, but when I got my first DSLR, I took it to the Dominican Republic with Amanda, shot lots of photos, and when I got back, I learned what the ‘format’ button on the menu meant….oopsAugust 27, 2009 – 2:20 pm

lisa rigby - I love this post! And those photos are wonderful.August 25, 2009 – 1:45 pm

nancy - these are simply stunning channing!August 24, 2009 – 5:09 pm

Ronnie - Awesome! It’s very cool to see the early years and your travels and experiences. Makes me want to hop on a bus right now. To where? who cares…August 23, 2009 – 4:07 am

Phyllis - For your 18th birthday, we went to the library to get your registered to vote. I think the passport was for your 20th birthday and involved a trip to the North Kansas City post office.August 21, 2009 – 2:41 pm

Channing - I do remember that day, mother. Although I sometimes get that confused with when we went to register me to vote. Either one or both of those birthdays I was woken up to go do something that didn’t seem very important at the time but turned out to be significant down the road. Thanks for the foresight, mom. I wasn’t capable of it at the time.August 21, 2009 – 1:31 pm

Geneve - Very cool post…. ah film days. There is so much emotion from each photo. I really like the shot of the bowl of soup it says so much…August 20, 2009 – 11:48 pm

yoon - Oh Channing, I was going to say the same thing Sarah said…you’ll get it back! But, if anything you made such a beautiful post of images and took us down your memory lane.August 20, 2009 – 10:56 pm

Phyllis - Do you remember the day we applied for your passport?August 20, 2009 – 9:21 pm

Myndi - Ahh! The early days of Channing! I love this post so much, especially the photographs from your stay with Igor.August 20, 2009 – 6:17 pm

Li - I really enjoyed this post! I do have my previous passport (thank goodness) and I think this would be a great exercise in digging up some old travel photos that haven’t seen the light of day.August 20, 2009 – 3:58 pm

Channing - That’s great news, Sarah! I didn’t know that. I only assumed the worst.August 20, 2009 – 2:37 pm

Sarah - Maybe you know this – but the State Dept. will send your cancelled passport back to you. It’s the standard thing. (They don’t keep or destroy them, like the RMV does with old driver’s licenses.)

I believe they just punch a hole through your old passport.

:)August 20, 2009 – 2:34 pm