'The World in Faces': Portraits of people across the world

(CNN) — “People living on the other side of the world are just the same humans as people living next door,” says photographer Alexander Khimushin.

The Russian-born traveler has been on the road for the last nine years, visiting the far corners of the world on a quest to photograph the people he meets along the way.

Khimushin’s “The World in Faces” project, which he shares on his website and social media, celebrates the beauty, diversity and common humanity of people across the globe.

“From the very beginning it was a desire not so much to see all the natural and man-made wonders of the world, but to learn about this world from within, plunging into the surrounding reality, as if trying on the lives of people in other countries,” Khimushin told CNN Travel.

On the road

A girl from the Hamar tribe in southwest Ethiopia.

The photographer was born and raised in Yakutia, in Russia’s far east, one of the world’s most remote locations and one of the coldest places on Earth. Later he moved to Australia, but a thirst for adventure and the desire to journey to other secluded spots never left him.

One day, he packed up his belongings to become a full-time explorer — and he’s been traveling the world ever since.

The inspiration for “The World in Faces” came several years into his travels.

Khimushin’s photographs, including this one of a Wakhi woman in Afghanistan, capture his subjects’ personalities.

“From the first day of travel, my constant companion was a camera,” remembers Khimushin. “Later, digging through my photo archives, I decided to put together a series of photo portraits. When the work was completed, about 200 [photographs] of people from different parts of the world appeared before me.”

Khimushin was struck by the effect of the portraits. The inspiration for his project began to form.

“Glancing at their faces, bright unforgettable moments of our meetings began to emerge,” he said.

“That inner transformation that took place in me, through meetings with these people, evolved into a desire to continue to take photos of people around the world, to acquaint people with the beauty and diversity of people in the remotest corners of our planet.”

Photographing the world

An Ifugao woman in the Philippines.

Khimushin’s striking, engaging portraits not only document traditional dress, customs and culture but capture the unique personality of the subject.

Sometimes the person will be on the brink of laughter — other times they appear more solemn, captivating the viewer with their eyes.

Their full backstory remains unknown, but the photographs are steeped in character.

Khimushin says he prefers photographing people in remote locations.

“Local people are always genuinely welcoming in these places,” he says.

“Still untouched by globalization, they’re happy to meet a stranger, invite me into their house…[they are] interested in who I am and where I came from. When I explain the meaning behind my visit, many are willing to help, invite friends and relatives to take a photo.”

The photographer also strives to showcase cultures and ways of life that might be unfamiliar to his audience.

“Indigenous peoples are proud of their culture, which is often not well known or neglected,” he says. “In many cases these indigenous minority groups are, unfortunately, for a number of reasons, on the verge of extinction.”

International success

Khimushin, pictured here in India, has been traveling to the remote corners of the globe for nine years.

Khimushin’s work, which he shares on Facebook and Instagram, has gained a cult following.

“My story got viral and over the past year has spread all around the world — that would have been simply impossible to imagine in the past,” he says.

“I also receive many e-mails and social media messages from all over the world with words of gratitude for my humble work. This, of course, inspires me to continue the project and I’m not going to give it up.”

He hopes to one day produce a “World in Faces” book, but his ultimate goal is an exhibition, preferably in the UN headquarters in New York.

His most recent travels have taken him to some of the far-flung corners of his native Siberia.

Khimushin’s ultimate aim is an exhibition at the UN headquarters in New York City. Pictured here, a Cuban man in Havana.

“I moved to Australia more than 15 years ago and haven’t been to my homeland for all these years,” reflects Khimushin.

“There are more than 10,000 ethnic groups living on our planet, the whole life is not enough to visit them all, but I will try to do as much as I can.”

Universal humanity

Khimushin says his photographs, including this one of a Shughnani girl in Khorog, Tajikistan, showcase our common humanity.

Khimushin’s project also has a strong social message — the photographer wants his images to showcase our common humanity.

“Contrary to what we constantly hear today about our differences, perhaps the main discovery for me was that despite all the political, religious, cultural and racial differences, ordinary people I met on the way were universally kind and hospitable, always ready to help in a difficult moment,” he says.

“Instead of fighting and hating each other for any reason, we should admire our diversity, respect people, regardless of ethnicity, religion or culture.

“We must learn to live in peace and harmony, because there is no other way for humanity.”

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