In the Eastern Caucasus mountains of Georgia there’s a summit named after Guram Tikanadze, one of Georgian mountaineers. I was around 18 or so when I hiked around this summit and was told about Tikanadze, whom I haven’t heard before that. Tikanadze died in 1963 at the age of 30 while descending from one of the most difficult mountain routes in Svaneti region of Georgia.
A couple of years ago I went to Svaneti to make some research for my mountain village project there. While staying in one of the houses near Shkhara, a massif where Tikanadze died, I was told that Tikanadze used to live there. And all of a sudden I learnt that he was also a photographer. When I was shown the album of the photographs there, I was amazed how unexpectedly talented they were (I have a certain stereotype about the quality of Georgian photography).
It turned out that Tikanadze started photographing way before he started climbing, while later he showed his talent in both. He also worked as a staff photojournalist for several Georgian publication. Wrote poems and published them in Polish, Czech and German issues. I am still somewhat ashamed that I didn’t know about him much as far back as two years ago.
His photographs… Through the poor quality of Soviet times cheap film the image quality stands out against the general level of Soviet photography. Some of his photos even remind me of the famous works by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Which already somewhat compensates the inopportuneness of the death at the age of 30.
I obviously have a soft spot in my heart for photographers, who are good at something besides photography or come to photography from different, preferably science related, field. They give me real inspiration. Tikanadze is definitely among them. Who else? Josef Koudelka and Randy Olson for example.