Linka Anne Odom

Spinning Compass
Biography: Photographer & Installation artist Linka A Odom. Born in a suburban Dallas, Texas, I spent most of my childhood adventuring in the creek behind my home. This passion for the unknown and adventure has continually influenced me.  After... read on
Public Story
Spinning Compass
Credits: linka a odom
Updated: 12/06/11

“He wondered what the map would look like of all the steps he had taken in his life and what word it would spell."  - Paul Auster, City of Glass

It is estimated that this year (2011) alone over 900 million people will internationally arrive at a destination, and over half of those will be for leisure, recreation and holiday.[1] 

I began traveling quite young, however my first visit to a third world country was thirteen years ago, to Nepal in 1998.  I spent six months in South East Asia on that journey and it was then, I was introduced to the culture of travel.  What amazed me is the huge subculture that it is, once you know about it, it is as if a whole new world opens up filled with possibility.  Since that time, I have traveled to more than 25 countries on four continents.  This project arose from my knowledge and experiences of traveling, and a desire to explore the travelers, as opposed to the places traveled.

People choose to travel for diverse reasons, one thing that is sure is that travelers/tourists are a melting pot of humanity.  We travel to learn, to relax, to celebrate, to feel alive, for business, to empathise, to gain understanding, and many of us travel to experience a different way of life. Traveling and fantasizing about travel is like a dream or vision or another reality, one that is attainable.  The truth is that we are exposed to our own nature through our judgements of others and in turn, we gain the ability to be surprised.  This project is an exploration of the people that take part in this way of life, whether it be for a week, a month, or years.  Travelers/tourists step outside of what is considered the norm of day to day and into a unique reality.

My method for finding my subjects is simple.  I go to the most touristic area in a location and find a spot slightly off street, then basically ask every traveler that passes, if I can photograph them.  When I began planning this project, I was incredibly nervous about asking strangers to be photographed.  One of the funny things, I have observed when traveling, in particular in more ‘off the beaten path’ places, is many travelers don’t smile or even look at each other on the street.  It’s almost as if they want to pretend they are alone in the environment, and if they don’t notice you, they can do so.  Thus, the fact that around 90% of the people I have asked, have said yes to being photographed, as well as taken the time to fill out my long questionnaire has been a great surprise.  An element of this process that is important for me, is to photograph the people first and then ask them to fill out the questionnaire.  This keeps my knowing anything about them out of the photographic process.

This project is a work in progress, as I will continue in numerous cities around the world.  This project began in Kathmandu, Nepal in June of 2011 and has continued in New Orleans, Louisiana and Maui, Hawaii.  At the moment I have plans to photograph more travelers in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Fez, Morocco among other cities around the world.  The backdrop and questionnaire will remain the same in each locale.

All of the images in this portfolio were taken in Nepal, in both Kathmandu and Pokhara.  The following full questionnaire is given to each participant after their portrait is taken:


01.  How long have you been traveling (or) living here?
02.  What is your main reason for being here?
03.  Is there an element of spiritual enlightenment to your journey here, pls explain?
04.  What are you reading?
05.  What are you carrying with you that has no practical purpose & why?
06.  Is there someone that you are missing (& or) who are you traveling with?
07.  If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be right now?
08.  How old are you?  Where were you born?  Where do you live? 
09.  What are you doing next?
10.  What’s your Facebook status update?
11.  What do you like (or) dislike about being here?
12.  How do you spend most of your time here?
13.  Please write down your email address, if you would like to see the pictures.


  • For this platform, I have chosen to write down one Q & A from each participant who answered the questions.

[1] World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)