Photographer Captures the Hauntingly Beautiful Dragon’s Blood Trees of Socotra

Daniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood Tree

Landscape photographers are often explorers—lugging their gear to the far corners of the Earth, braving the elements for the perfect shot. Award-winning Russian photographer Daniel Kordan has been exploring since his childhood days in a lake region outside of Moscow. Today, he uses his experience in mountain climbing and a deep-seated love of nature to capture stunning landscapes from the Yukon to Kenya. His quest for images brought him to create a series of the Dragon's Blood Trees on the remote island of Socotra.

The Socotra Archipelago is a series of four islands lying between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea in the northwest Indian Ocean. The islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are part of the country of Yemen. UNESCO recognizes the ecosystem for its incredible biodiversity. According to the organization, “37% of Socotra’s plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world.”

Among these plants exclusive to the islands is the Dragon's Blood Tree. This ancient species boasts a large canopy of twisted branches. It's sap runs bright red, hence the reference to blood. The trees can live to be thousands of years old, and references to them abound in ancient literature. Today, their survival is threatened by the warming temperatures, destructive cyclones, and grazing livestock.

Armed with his camera, Kordan captured these beautiful, endangered trees on their native island. The photographer—who teaches landscape photography courses and workshops—used his experience to capture these trees as mythical beings worthy of their fantastical name. Kordan tells My Modern Met, speaking on his journey to Socotra, “My favorite part is the total, pure wilderness of the place. Being alone in nature among so many endemic species, you feel like an explorer!”

To explore the world vicariously through Kordan's talented lens, check out his website, Instagram, and print shop.

Landscape photographer Daniel Kordan travels to the remote, beautiful corners of the world to capture stunning images.

Daniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood Tree

His haunting images of the Dragon's Blood Trees of Socotra are a series worthy of the mythical name.

Daniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood Tree

The trees are fast vanishing due to climate change among other factors.

Daniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood TreeDaniel Kordan Photographs Socota's Dragon Blood Tree

Daniel Kordan: Website | Instagram | Prints | Kordan Landscapes

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Daniel Kordan.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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