A photographer spent 17 years exploring the barren expanse of Mongolia and returned with unreal photos


unreal photos barren expanse of Mongolia Frédéric Lagrange

New York-based photographer Frédéric Lagrange first heard about Mongolia as a child.

His grandfather would tell him stories about World War II, when served in the French army and was a prisoner of war in Germany. In 1944, a detachment of Mongolian soldiers under Soviet command freed Lagrange’s grandfather, who described the terror the German soldiers showed when they saw the soldiers. Ever since, Lagrange has been fascinated with the country and was resolved to visit it.

He got his first chance in August 2001, taking an entire month off his job as a photographer’s assistant to visit the remote country. He was immediately taken with the landscape and the people, but, most of all, he told, he was taken with “the incredible, overwhelming stillness of the place.”

  • New York-based photographer Frédéric Lagrange has visited Mongolia 13 times over the last 17 years, traversing the country in every season to capture stunning photographs of the people and the landscape.
  • In Mongolia, Lagrange has experienced extreme weather, had his life saved thanks to the Mongolian army, and seen the country evolve and develop tremendously.
  • Lagrange has collected his nearly two decades worth of work into a limited-edition book to be published in November. He launched a Kickstarter this week as a pre-sale of the book.

In the 17 years since, he has visited Mongolia 13 times, traversing the entirety of the country in winter, summer, fall, and spring.

“There is a stillness and a quietness that I found quite captivating at the time,” Lagrange said. “It’s a very meditative state. You feel the presence and the moments way stronger than back in the US or anywhere else.”

A limited-edition book of Lagrange’s 17-year exploration of Mongolia will be published by Italian publisher Damiani in November. Lagrange launched a Kickstarter this week as a pre-sale of the book, which you can check out here »


Mongolia is more than twice the size of Texas, but only has a population of 2.76 million people compared to Texas’s 26 million. Thirty percent of Mongolia’s population is nomadic or semi-nomadic.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

Lagrange first visited Mongolia in the summer of 2001.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

His first impression, he told, was of the “incredible, overwhelming stillness of the place.”

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

“You are always surrounded by vastness,” Lagrange said. No matter where you turn, he said, there are always three levels of color and texture around you: the fields, the remote mountains, and the sky.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

When Lagrange went on his first trip, he knew nobody in the country. But, over the years, he has established friendships with the guides, fixers, and drivers that he works with on his trips. Most are based in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

Lagrange visited the country in every season. Spring was breathtakingly beautiful.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

Summer was full of life.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

The colors were always spectacular, especially in autumn.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

But winter was brutal. When he visited in 2004, Lagrange and his team got caught in a snowstorm in a remote area. Sometimes, they get so bad people need to evacuate the area, like this family.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

Lagrange’s Jeep got stuck in the snow. An army convoy passing by helped them get out and took them to their base on the Chinese border. There he was able to take portraits of the soldiers, like this man.

Courtesy of Frederic Lagrange

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