Following on from yesterday’s article on travelling as a photographer – specifically the portion on serendipity – I thought it might be nice to show an example of that in today’s photoessay.
There’s a big difference between travelling for photography, and taking photographs while travelling. I think it all boils down to priorities: is your priority photography, or travel? Or are you like me: photographing gives you a reason to travel, and forces you to observe and thus enrich your experience?
A couple of months ago, I spent some time in a theme park – not because I particularly wanted to go on any of the rides or because I felt like I needed a little escapism, but because I was teaching a workshop as part of the Maybank Photo Awards 2013, and Universal Studios Singapore was a sponsor. Being there made me realize a number of things.
I’m guessing you’re probably sick of seeing NYC, so this will be the last one for the time being: somewhere between street photography and the observations of a flaneur, but above all, a view at how I see a new environment. Shot with the Fuji X20 and Nikon Coolpix A; two very capable and enjoyable cameras I reviewed some time back while in the US. Enjoy! MT
One question you tend to see publicly discussed ad nauseam on forums is the one that goes something along the lines of “If you could only bring one camera/lens to a desert island, what would that be, and why?” I’m sure it’s something even we more serious photographers give some consideration to from time to time; if only because one day we might find ourselves facing such an eventuality. In the greater interests of this site’s readership, I put myself in precisely that situation a couple of weeks ago.
After writing the article on why we photograph and fresh off the back of several overseas trips, I wanted to share a few thoughts on travel photography. It seems that like street photography, the ‘travel’ genre is almost a generic catch-all bucket for images that don’t fit anything else; it’s a bit of portrait, a bit of landscape, a bit of street, a bit of still life, a bit of architecture, and, well, just ill-defined.
It’s impossible to go anywhere in Japan without happening across a temple or two. They provide both places of worship for the faithful and serene oases for the rest of us. They’re always impeccably maintained and a great show of craftsmanship; naturally lending themselves to photography. I spent half a day during my last trip to Fukuoka visiting some of the temples in the Gion district, and engaging in some slow, meditative photography with the Hasselblad. These images were shot primarily with the 80/2.8 CF on Ilford Delta 100 and scanned with the D800E. Enjoy! MT
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Burma, Shwedagon Pagoda has been a focal point for life in Yangon for a very long time – it has reputedly existed in some form or other for the last 2,600 years. It reached its current height of approximately 114m in the late 1700s after the most recent rebuilding as a result of multiple earthquakes. It is thought of as the most sacred location for Buddhists in Burma, with the relics of multiple past Buddhas housed within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama – the one traditionally thought of as Buddha. An exact replica exists in Naypyidaw (the new capital of Burma).
Though visiting Chinatown in the USA is somewhat ironic for a person from Asia (we do have Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur too; it’s just not that different from the rest of town); I did find it to be quite photographically rich – especially with San Francisco’s inclined streets. Between the Cantonese and interesting side alleys, it felt a lot more like Hong Kong than anywhere else – which is perhaps a consequence of the origin of the immigrants. More than that though, something about the atmosphere was rather conducive to the cinematic style, though it could also be because both times I arrived at the end of the day as the sun was setting and pouring down the east-west streets in a gloriously saturated manner. I sent my workshop students off to explore style with a few different assignments, mounted the Leica 50/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH on my OM-D via an adaptor and set off to grab a few frames from a movie.
Had the chance to process some of my files from the first few days in San Francisco – in the first six days on the ground, I shot over 3,500 images…let’s just say that it’s an extremely photographically rich city; or perhaps it’s the allure of the unfamiliar and the new (the last time I was in the USA was on a family holiday before the time I was interested in photography). I do know that my keeper rate on the first day was nearly zero, but I put that down to jetlag. I tend to find there’s an ideal point between cultural oversaturation and being jaded with a city – and that tends to be the most productive period for me photographically. It typically happens after four to five days; I’ve learned to go with the flow and not worry too much about not producing anything in the early days simply because the stream-of-consciousness type ‘seeing’ will come, and with it, an enormous task in the curation…more to come once I get a chance to edit and process.