We are highly inspired by the online platform of writer Darrell Hartman and his brother Oliver Hartman, which they founded last year and named Jungles in Paris. The extraordinary project aims to redefine armchair travel using a global network of professional photographers and filmmakers, producing and presenting short, focused stories on culture, craft, geography, and wildlife around the world. Instead of splendor the Hartman brothers aim to go small and observe with an highly critical eye by focusing on the unexpected surprises uncovered by the careful traveler, from ritual skin-piercing in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, the beautiful aesthetic of the colorful house fences one finds in Rwanda, to the Ranch Rodeo in a small town in Wyoming, USA. As Darrell is such an inspiration for both his vision and his dogmatic approach in these rather superficial times, we’ve asked him some questions on what has and still inspires him in life.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Darrell Hartman, I’m a writer and also the editor and co-founder of Jungles in Paris.
Who is the most inspiring person in history and why?
Tough one. Maybe the Buddha, for the spiritual and mental paths he opened up, and the (mostly) peaceful way that religion has spread since then.
Who is the most inspiring person in your life and why?
Both my parents. Here in New York I’ve met many children of famous parents. It has nothing to do with that. It’s more about the values they instilled in me: being interested in things, being good at things, treating other people a certain way, not making everything about yourself. And of course loving the outdoors.
Who do you consider the most inspiring photographer?
I’d say a filmmaker: Werner Herzog. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and am on a total Herzog kick these days. The man does not see obstacles. He finds the most incredible subject matter, and extracts gold from it. In a world in which so many people are claiming to be unconventional, he actually, truly is.
And the photograph that will always stay in your mind?
I can’t say I have one.
Who for you is the most inspiring artist?
Among many, I guess I’d single out Winslow Homer. There’s an incredible timelessness to his work. Also, I grew up in Maine and so many of his subjects are close to home.
And what is the most inspiring music?
If I’m in a mood to be transported, I’ll listen to old choral music (like Josquin des Prez) and modern stuff that I find soulful, bands like Popol Vuh and Sigur Ros. Occasionally a truly sublime movie soundtrack comes out. Two of my favorites are Vangelis’ for “Blade Runner,” and Alex Ebert’s for “All Is Lost.” And speaking of Popol Vuh and Herzog, the “Aguirre, Wrath of God” soundtrack is another really good one.
The thing you never go without?
Something to read.
Your favorite city?
London, at least for visiting.
Your favorite hideout?
The books on your coffee table?
Peter Beard, Richard Curtis, and ‘The Cruel Sport’ – Robert Daley’s fantastic (and large) book on auto racing.
The books on your bedside table?
Lately: Peter Matthiessen, Marilynne Robinson, Proust, Geoff Dyer’s ‘Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi,’ Annie Dillard, W.G. Sebald.
What is your dream?
To become more creative in my writing, and maybe even do some filmmaking; to be somewhere I can spend more time outdoors; to be more spiritually observant and enlightened; to see less selfishness and stupidity in the world. Several dreams!
What would you do if you could start all over again?
I guess I would have studied how to shoot and edit video during a time when I was less busy! Otherwise I’m pretty happy with my first 33 years on earth.
Portrayed with the interview are images of a very early Jungles in Paris stories, from the time when we discovered the inspirational magazine: the Eyjafjallajökull vulcano located on Iceland.
Photography by Lane Coder.
Make sure to follow Jungles in Paris for more incredible stories here.