Who gave you your first camera (and which make it)?
I can’t remember exactly where my first camera came from, but I can pinpoint the one that sparked my love for photography. It was a small, cheap, point-and-shoot compact camera – the best my budget could afford as a student at the time.
What got you into photography?
I have always lent towards the arts and appreciated its capacity for expression and connection. Photography is no different! Although in my case, what really kickstarted my love affair with this medium was travel and the people I met along the way. Firstly, on a trip to Central America, and later on, a year abroad living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With a new and foreign land at my fingertips, my camera became a treasured tool of discovery and creative exploration. It inspired me to study some tips for landscape photography in order to really ‘see’ and take in every detail of my surroundings!
What artist/photographer first inspired you? Who inspires you now?
During my time in Central America, I met a very inspiring female solo traveller in Guatemala who showed me the most breath-taking photographs from her trip so far. She had one of those big, Canon DSLR’s and I was smitten! I was particularly taken in by her point her view and visual interpretation of the places she had visited. It sparked a sense of excitement and play in me. Nowadays, I’d like to say I still carry that sense of play which is something I embrace fiercely. I’m also endlessly inspired by people I meet, their energy, as well as my surroundings at any given time. I believe it’s about being mindful and open to the world as it unfolds in front you.
What really kickstarted my love affair with this medium was travel and the people I met along the way.
What do you most like taking photos of and why?
Without a doubt, people rank highly on my list – their unpredictability, movement, colour, energy, story. I want to get to know all of it! Taking a photograph of someone can be the starting point of an invitation into their world. It’s also a relationship based on mutual trust and the idea of being seen. Recently, I’ve also really enjoying taking candid snaps of the in-between moments of daily life as well as exploring light and form in city.
Have you got the travel bug? When did it bite you?
Oh, most definitely! And I hope I always will. Travel can be the greatest teacher – about yourself and the diversity of life in every sense. I think it’s also ingrained in my DNA, my grandfather travelled profusely in the 1950’s and 1960s and my mother grew up in several countries too. The need to break free and explore is a big part of my story.
Where have you visited so far?
Central America including Cuba, many South American countries, India and Nepal, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Morocco and Vietnam.
Which were your top 3 places to take photos of, and what/who did you specifically enjoy capturing with your lens whilst there?
Difficult question! Everywhere has its particular beauty and quirks, so it’s always a question of perspective. Probably a combination of Guatemala and India, for their colour and culture. Recently, I also really enjoyed doing a lot of street photography in Vietnam with my iPhone.
What type of camera would you recommend for holidaying/travelling?
Whichever camera you’re more likely to bring with you everywhere. In many cases, this might be your smartphone. Usually, the smaller the better, as it can be less of a barrier between you and your subject.
That sense of play is something I embrace fiercely.
Have you ever encountered any problems when trying to shoot (e.g. cultural issues where locals were unhappy with you taking pictures)?
This is a great question. Within photography and anthropology, there are heated debates on issues of ‘othering’, ‘exotifying’ and ‘objectifying’ that can occur through media depictions of people from different cultures and ethnicities. It’s also about acknowledging historical power structures – such as European colonialism and white privilege – and their impact on the relationship between the photographer and the photographed. I’ve definitely struggled with this and held back on many occasions, making sure I don’t overstep my welcome or invade someone’s right to privacy. Personally, I’ve found my way around this by striking up genuine connections and conversations with the people I feel drawn to. Ultimately, any photography practice should be grounded in humility, respect and genuine interest.
Describe your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken.
Years ago, I used to have a compact Panasonic camera that had a double exposure function. This is where you take two photographs and they are layered over each other. During my visit to McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala in India, I managed to capture some photographs of young Buddhist monks being cheeky and having fun in-between prayer. It’s moments like these that you realise certain aspects of human nature are universal across the globe, regardless of cultural and language boundaries.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Go shoot. Everything and everyone! Follow your curiosity. Have fun. Forget about pretty. Forget about the technical. Play. Experiment. Connect with those who share your enthusiasm and collaborate – grow together. Practice and inspire, as well being inspired. Look around you and fall in love with the magic of seeing.