In this rapidly changing world, photographer Daniel Kordan transports us to a place where time seemingly stands still: the vast steppe of the Gobi Desert and the world of nomadic Mongolian Eagle Hunters. While the photos are contemporary, they depict people who live by age-old traditions. In this way, the hunters and Kordan are both preserving the dwindling art of hunting with golden eagles, which has been passed down through generations for thousands of years.
Kordan captures these horseback riders and their fine feathered friends in remarkably balanced compositions, constructing each image in a way that underscores its painterly qualities. He is a master of this discipline, regardless of whether the subjects are galloping full bore toward the viewer or standing majestically on a hilltop to survey the seemingly endless landscape below. From the traditional attire to the pristine expanses to the massive raptors taking flight from outstretched limbs, Kordan’s images leave us with the impression that these scenes could just as easily have existed a thousand years ago. The photographs speak volumes about the cultural significance – both past and present – of the Eagle Hunters.
Fascinated with photography from an early age, Kordan took a somewhat circuitous route to the profession through a career in the hard sciences. Eventually, his passion won out and his love for nature inspired him to become a full-time photographer. In addition to fine art photography, he now leads expeditions of aspiring photographers into nature, sharing his expertise to help them hone their skills.
Plains of Africa
The Maasai are known for their unique culture. Pride, honor, and a large sense of tradition are the hallmarks of their lifestyle. They are instantly recongizable with their vibrant red clothing, gleaming jewelry, and the spectacular leaps their warriors make as a demonstration of strength. For his new series, Daniel Kordan accompanied a group of young warriors through the vast, open landscape of Kenya and captured them in an unparalleled way. Kordan was able to pinpoint and illustrate the beauty unique to this people while capturing the magic of the moment.
“Hiking with the Maasai has changed me,” remarks Daniel Kordan on his time in Kenya. He learned how to listen and look for the signs of nature in order to survive in the wild. “I remember the scariest moment of our journey, when a hyena suddenly leapt out of the bush just five meters away from us. My Maasai guide sat there calmly and started to imitate the sounds of a lion - the hyena fled so quickly!” The wisdom of his traveling companions seemed boundless; from a mere broken twig, these men could identify what animal had been there and how long ago. “It seems almost hard to believe that these wonderful people could still exist on our planet.”
The artworks were created in Kenya’s national parks Nakuru and Samburu, and are brought to life through a mix of culture and nature. The Maasai warriors are set majestically against the impressively immense expanse of the savannah. The people and landscape are in perfect harmony. Kordan spent hours seeking the perfect rock formations, which are sparse in the mostly flat landscape. He definitely benefited from many years of experience as a landscape photographer who has traveled all around the globe. For his work in Kenya, it was very important to him to see eye-to-eye with the local culture.
Daniel Kordan grew up around idyllic nature near Moscow. He studied physics at the Institute of Physics and Technology and was working as a scientist before following his lifelong passion to become a professional photographer. Kordan’s work has earned him multiple awards, including a National Geographic Russia contest in 2013 and a Trierenberg Super Circuit award. His work has appeared in many international publications, and he has over 1.1 million followers on Instagram.