Sometimes a 40th birthday gets people itchy to travel the world. When Ilan Rogers turned 40 last year, he took his Canon DSLR on a photographic tour of 52 countries in 52 weeks.
The Israeli native traveled more than 150,000 kilometers (93,205 miles) across five continents via planes, ships, trains, buses and foot. In January, Rogers returned with approximately 100,000 photographs and 3,000 short video clips from his year-long journey.
In alphabetical order, the places he visited and photographed include: Andorra, Antigua, Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Thailand, Trinidad, The Vatican and Vietnam.
With nothing but a carry-on bag and a backpack filled with 5.5 kilos (12 pounds) of camera equipment, Rogers took advantage of strategic stopovers, last-minute hotel deals and affordable local transportation options to keep his budget to less than $2,000 a month.
“What started out as a personal project has become one of the largest global photography journeys ever completed anywhere in the world,” Rogers tells ISRAEL21c.
The subjects of his pictures range from people to food to nature and architecture. His mission was to provide a unique snapshot of the world through images showing the similarities and differences among countries.
Asked about how people responded to him being an Israeli, he says that overall his experience was very positive.
“Almost everywhere I went, people were welcoming and supportive. Much more than you might expect, considering all the negative press about Israel,” he says.
“Even in countries such as Ireland and Iceland, that are often thought to be quite anti-Israeli, locals were eager to hear about and see photos of Israel, and many expressed an interest to come visit as well.”
In fact, although he lives most of the year in Europe, Rogers felt like an unofficial Israeli ambassador.
“When we travel, we each have an opportunity to represent Israel in a better light,” Rogers says.
“People might see or read negative things in their local media, but if they meet a friendly Israeli, who respects them and their culture, they are far more likely to think more positively about Israel as well.”
Now that he has completed his dream journey, Rogers is sorting through the photos and videos and uploading a selection from a different country each week to Instagram.
He will be sharing tips and tricks with his social-media followers to help them travel the world more efficiently and affordably.
Rogers says a physical exhibition will follow.
“I hope I’ll be able to find suitable venues both in Israel and abroad to showcase my best photos from around the world,” he says.
“I am truly grateful to have been able to see and photograph so much and want to share this unique experience with others.”