Twentynine-year-old Russian photographer and TV producer, Murad Osmann, hadn’t anticipated that a picture taken on a vacation with his girlfriend Nataly Zakharova in 2012 would become an instant hit online. Since then the duo has been touring the world and taking pictures to create their own unique picture travelogue, which has over 2.3 million followers on Instagram and over a million followers on their Facebook page. The couple recently travelled across India — through Agra, Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan, Varanasi, Delhi and Udaipur, among others. Osmann talks about his passion for travel and following his girlfriend for three years. Excerpts:
You started the “Follow Me” series in 2012. How did the idea for this project come about?
It began in Barcelona, October 2012. We were sightseeing and were blown away by the beauty of this city. My girlfriend wanted to see everything, from the mountain of Tibidabo and inspiring cathedral of Sagrada de Familia to tapas bars. I kept on taking photos and documenting everything I saw. At one time Nataly grabbed my arm and dragged me forward. As you can figure, it didn’t stop me from taking a picture even then. So that is how the first photo was born.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you ever done a similar kind of project?
I grew up in Dagestan, south of Russia. At the age of five, my family moved to Moscow where I went to a school. One of the major turning points in my life was when I decided to continue my studies in England where I graduated from Imperial College London with a degree in civil engineering. This project is very unique for us, we’ve never done this before.
How do you select which places to travel to?
We are always paying attention to any picturesque place on the planet. If we really like something, we start thinking about going there to see these beautiful places and to shoot our story there. Now we have a must-visit list and are going step by step about it. We search for locations, get the address, go there and shoot. So all this is happening with real backgrounds, real weather and surroundings. From time to time people recognise us, especially when we are doing the “follow me pose”. They never interrupt the shootings and very often they like to watch the process itself.
We don’t ever get to see your girlfriend’s face in the pictures. Why is that?
There’s no specific reason behind that. She’s not hiding her face. It’s just part of our creative concept that brings some mystery and intrigue in beautiful landscapes. Our followers like that idea.
Which are the places you have visited in India for this project? How was your experience?
We’ve been to Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi and New Delhi. We know that there’s much more to see, so we will definitely come back. To tell you the truth, this was one of the most memorable experiences ever. The country is very unique and amazing. The only problem we faced was that we couldn’t shoot on the territory of the Akshardham temple in Delhi. India for us was one of the top countries on our bucket list to visit. It exceeded our expectations and we absolutely loved every place we visited. There is so much inspiration not only in the landmarks, but in the people that we met along the way.
How many places have you covered so far and how do you plan to take this project ahead?
We have visited France, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Jordan, India, Sri Lanka, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Dubai and Turkey. Not many as you can see. We will never stop travelling. But in addition to photos and a beauty that we see around the world and share, we have a lot of stories, indignation, love and admiration after the trips. We’ve launched a book with photos and stories, which is available on Amazon. At the same time we are working on our website and second instagram account — @followmetraveller, which is more about stories, backstage and everything that is not published in the main one.
At Varanasi, India.
At Sigriya, Sri Lanka.
Near a temple at Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Popping the question at Moscow.
Posing in Udaipur, India.
Nataly poses at Taj Mahal (Agra), the monument of Love.
Another breathtaking image that captures a ‘Follow Me’ moment near Taj Mahal.
Couple in Jama Masjid, New Delhi.
Here in a tennis court in Hong Kong, Murad clicks her girlfriend “in a moment of multiple colors and infinite windows”.
Here Nataly is clicked in a room in Georgia, Tbilisi.
Nataly in her royal avatar at Rajasthan’s (India) Chand Baori.
The travelogue has over 2.3 million followers on Instagram and over a million followers on their Facebook page.
The couple at Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.