Birds of a feather . . .

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting Temo Bardzimashvili, a documentary photographer, multimedia storyteller, and videographer, who specializes in ethnographic type of photography. He likes to document minority people’s lives and social issues. For example, he leaves tomorrow for a 3-week trip to Istanbul and Kyrgyzstan in order to photograph the Meskhetian Turks.  They are the former Turkish inhabitants of Meskheti (Georgia), along the border with Turkey. They were deported to Central Asia during November 15–25, 1944, by Joseph Stalin and settled within Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Of the 120,000 forcibly deported in cattle-trucks, a total of 10,000 perished. Temo started the project two years ago, when he worked for ( See his audio slideshow: Meskhetian Turks Return to Lost Homeland in Georgia ( Now he’s continuing the project with the sponsorship of the European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI), an NGO in Germany ( The final product will be an exhibition in a gallery in Tbilisi, so stay tuned!

Temo graduated from CSJMM in 2009. Earlier he had gained a bachelor’s degree in physics in Russia/Georgia and a master’s degree in math from Michigan State University (where I earned my PhD). Before leaving the USA and returning to Tbilisi, Temo bought his first digital SLR. He soon realized that he’d prefer to work as a photographer than as a sedentary office worker, so he took a 4-month short course in photojournalism taught by CSJMM’s Leli Blagonravova. Leli then convinced Temo to earn a master’s degree in journalism and media management from CSJMM.

Temo said that he both enjoyed and gained a lot from the program. Before entering the program, he had been so shy that he was afraid to call potential sources, but after he felt comfortable as a reporter using words or images.

For his final project, Temo and a classmate did a multimedia story of Caucasian Sheep dogs, which with some revisions was later distributed by See his story: Two Worlds of the Caucasian Sheep Dog (

I really like Temo and greatly admire his storytelling and images. I hope that indeed, birds of a feather will flock together and that we’ll soon begin working together on a project.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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