I picked up my first camera in New-York back in 2004. It was a plain 4 Mega-Pixel digital camera, I was 21 and fresh out of the army and it was the first time I held a camera. I took this camera with me on a 4 month trip to Asia, and there when I traveled in Vietnam for 3 weeks alone with no one to talk to I found the camera to be the best companion and I fell in love with photography, specifically travel photography. I bought an ultra-zoom mock DSLR Canon camera right before my next trip to South America in 2006, and it was only later, in 2007 – when I turned 25 – that I bought my first DSLR, a Canon 450D.
After I got married my wife and I decided to go on a trip around the world. By then I had many lenses, both prime and zoom, and I decided it was too much to carry. It was then that I decided to make what seemed like a bold decision at the time and leave all the equipment behind and travel only with my new Fujifilm X100 with a fixed 23mm (35mm FF equivalent) lens. Over the following two years I took this camera to Cuba, Mexico, China, Japan, India, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and more. With this camera I fell in love with photography all over again. The fixed lens and wide angle forced me to zoom with my feet and get closer to the subjects. I had to engage with people and earn their trust in order to get a good shot. The camera is small, quiet and not to mention that gorgeous retro look. I found people are less intimidated by this camera, and that the leaf shutter makes it very discrete.
I never took a formal class or went to photography school, however I spent thousands of hours reading magazines, online articles and blogs. I am constantly watching videos of equipment reviews and tutorials for using both the camera and some Adobe tools. I used to practice new techniques, but now, I mostly shoot when I travel and I recently started using flashes in an improvised studio to shoot my newborn son. I use Adobe tools, and although I’m a big fan of Photoshop, I now do everything in Lightroom.
My favorite photographer and the one I draw my inspiration from is Steve McCurry. I admire his passion to take the road less traveled and take simple yet the most beautiful and authentic portraits, by earning people’s trust and capturing their true essence.
In my photos I always try to find that perfect shot where you have a subject but also a narrative. I take thousands of photos each trip, only 100 or so make it to the album but maybe 5 would have that magic of having a complete story to tell. I am constantly raising the bar for what I consider a worthy photograph, and when I look back at photos I took a few years ago it’s hard for me to find ones that I’m satisfied with. But the more I shoot the better I get and it’s really all about getting closer to the subject, taking your time, going off the beaten track and being open to changes in plan. The best tip I can give my fellow travel photographers is, once in a while, when you find yourself in photographers’ heaven (could be a festival or an event), take some pictures and then put the camera down to enjoy the moment. Otherwise you are not creating memories you are only creating photos. At the end of the day an experience and a memory are worth more than any photo or video.