What would your answer be when asked who you are? Your name? Your job? Where you are from? There was a time when Mihai Tufă, a 26 years old Romanian, would have done the same. Was. “I cannot do that anymore as I don’t know exactly”, he writes in his email to me while watching the sunset over Zierker See on his way to Berlin, “instead of who I think of what and that is tricky. At the point, some take me as this fellow traveler who is walking around the world while taking loads of photos which, altogether with stories from the road, end up on theworldphototour.com website.”
It´s the mentioned World Photo Tour, I wanted to know more about – a journey, Mihai started on the 16th of February 2012 and which will take him walking a little under 100.000 km around the world.
“It will probably take me seven to eight years to complete”, states the native Romanian, who wants to do all of it leg powered – apart from ferries, boats and planes when crossing the oceans, “but I’m not in a hurry”. Not with the walk itself nor with the other idea: On his journey, also wants to contribute with a little something back to this world. That´s why he is fundraising for three organizations on his website: an international one – WaterAid, a Romanian one – Princess Margareta of Romania Trust and a British one – British Heart Foundation and invites people to help him reach 100.000 pounds. Apart from this , the self-taught photographer is selling his kilometers to support his journey: If you want to walk with Mihai, you don´t only get the kilometers but also some personalized behind-the-scene story. And it would not be a World Photo Tour if the sponsor did not 100 get exclusive pictures on top of that as well as a “personal phone call thanking him/her for the support, full name acknowledgment as an official sponsor and the pledge of my eternal gratitude as well”, he says in the FAQ on the website.
Want to know a bit more about Mihai and his World Photo Tour?! This is what he told me:
What is the goal of your project?
Mihai: The journey is my goal. Walking around the world? Don’t know. Whatever it takes to see more of this world, for in return to get to know myself better and then hopefully I’ll know who I am.
How did the idea to the trip come up, what did inspire you?
Mihai: It came as a sudden thought when I felt really trapped. Great job, but no love. So it was pointless. It came when I was desperate and scared. It came at the perfect time and it couldn’t have been a better decision.
What did surprise you the most during the trip?
Mihai: I would call it a finding and it has to do with a better understanding of the way I function, with a better understanding of how I understand the world and life around me. I found peace, I found strength, innocence and the power of a dream, of an idea.
How are the reactions of people you meet on the road and which person has impressed you the most?
Mihai: Most people are surprised by my walking. But that means nothing to me, not anymore. I now know that anyone can do this and even more, it just a matter of choice and of realizing we are as free as we need to be in order to accomplish any of our dreams. Thinking back, at all the people I met, I am actually speechless. From everyone I learned. And I am now pieces of everyone I ever met. Just like anybody else.
How would you describe your trip in 3 words?
Mihai: Fascination for possibility.
If someone wants to follow your path and do the same, what would you recommend or what would you have liked to know in advance?
Mihai: Think less, dare more. Believe in your dreams, let go of who society got you to think you are and have a leap of faith! What’s the worst that can happen?
Which picture is your favorite so far and shows your journey the best?
(funny “coincidence”: When I posted this picture underneath Mihais answer, I did not know that this picture was his favorite. But it actually is… )
What have you learned during your trip and what would you tell the ones who stayed at home?
Mihai: I learned to question everything, especially myself. Put everything to doubt and get ready to risk everything, even the things inside you that you think define you. I learned not to feel stuck and always see all the options, all the possibilities. Choose according to chance!
Thank you, Mihai, for the beautiful pictures, thank you for your inspiring words.
All pictures by Mihai Tufa. If you want to get some of them or join Mihai on his tour around the world, go to theworldphototour.com website