Monthly Archives: April 2011
Welcome to the first of a regular series of posts where we ask some of the world’s best photographers to share their personal travel photographs (and the stories behind them).
We’re very pleased to kick off “Through Their Eyes” with Sydney based fashion and portrait photographer, Cybele Malinowski who talks us through two sets of images she shot in different parts of America. If you scroll to the bottom of the post you’ll also see a Q and A with some great tips on destinations, gear and travel photography from the perspective of a professional photographer.
We’re sure you’ll agree that Cybele’s beautifully lit travel photos deliver remarkable moments that a less accomplished shooter may not see, let alone capture. Enjoy!
Nevada by Cybele Malinowski
We were horseback riding at sunset. The slow clicking of horse shoes, the low drawl of the coyboy leading our pack of city slickers as we watched the sun vanish behind the neon oasis of Vegas. It seemed so unreal. Such an ancient land, such a delightfully archaic way of travelling, just a 5 minute drive from one of the most unabashedly artificial cities in the world. As the sun slipped beyond the rim of the heavy canyons there was a beautiful glow. Dust being kicked up by our horses was caught in these last gasps of light, before the cold night rested upon the desert.
Central Park Joggers by Cybele Malinowski
After spending hours in the Guggenheim, I walked over to Central Park in an ‘Art Haze.’ The world was slowly shifting around me, from one frame to the next. I stood on a bridge, to gain a perspective on where I was, hoping that if I looked down on the world, it would stay still, until I caught my breathe. But it’s New York. It never stops. Being lunchtime, there were streams of joggers, fit, rich bodies, their suits waiting for them at the finishing line. These are the people that run the world. That’s what I thought to myself. Literally and figuratively. Every so often one of them would look up to my camera, why are you photographing me? Why not? I reply.
What was your last travel destination?
Thailand. My partner, Daniel Boud and I are getting married over there this year. We went on a 3 week ‘reccy’ over Christmas, searching for the perfect paradise for our big day. We found it! And are heading back in June with our friends and family for the wedding.
Name a place or experience that you really loved.
Vienna, Austria. I spent a few years in this romantic/secessionist city when I was younger. After growing up in Sydney, a city with a relatively young history, it was an explosive experience to roam around the streets of this medieval city, with layer upon layer of histories. Good and bad. I could smell the past, a cold musky vapour from deep within the stone buildings. I was about 11 when we arrived, a perfect age, where I was old enough to start understanding history, art and culture, but young enough to have a vivid imagination. Vienna has had a great impact on my artistic aesthetic to this day.
How do you decide what gear to bring (bodies, lenses, flash, tripod, bags)? Do you try to pack light? or What’s your minimum must-have gear?
It depends. But I always try to pack light, and limit myself. By only using a strict kit of gear, a certain look is apparent throughout the series of photos; a set focal length, or I try and keep a consistent aperture, to create a consistent aesthetic language throughout the series. On my first trip to the states I took my digital camera (Nikon D3), my 85mm 1.4 lens and a flash. Last year I look my Nikon 801 35mm with a 50mm lens, for quick snaps, and I took my Bronica medium format camera, with a couple set lenses. I must say, although it was fun shooting on film, and the shots look beautiful, nostalgic and ageless, they haven’t seen the light of day. They are still being scanned!
Have you ever planned a series before you left, or do you just wait and see what happens?
Normally I try not to plan, as with my work at home I am generally working to a brief of some sort. It’s nice to throw caution to the wind, and just shoot! However, I am currently working on a project, where I am putting a fair bit of planning into it. Potentially this will be an art show, a limited edition book, and even a short doco. A lot of organizing will be involved. None the less, I want to keep the artistic side relatively open, with a basic aesthetic guideline in place, but enough room for creative freedom and discovery.
What do you do with your photos when you get home? Would you ever use them in your portfolio? Have you ever landed any commercial work because of your travel shots?
If I shoot digitally, the first thing I do, is download on a laptop as I travel. Once I get back, I show a selection of friends the work (whether that be on my laptop, or photographic proofs). Its good to get a feel of what other people are drawn to. Some photos I love because of the moments surrounding the shot, a sentimental favourite of mine, but not necessarily a people’s choice. Generally speaking however, you know when you’ve taken a great shot, something magic happened at that exact moment you fired, and people are drawn to the shot naturally. Once I have got a good idea of what to show and what not to show, I start uploading them to my blog or flickr. This is the second round of selection. The ones that are loved by all may not necessarily be my personal favourites, particularly on sites such as flickr, where the popular shots are often quite mainstream. I find the feedback I get on my blog, or even on facebook is more appropriate, as the crowd who responds is the crowd I am catering for. The stand-out shots end up in my folio, and yes, my travel work has lead to commercial work. It is my travel work which is uninhibited by briefs or clients. There is a freedom in them. A freedom of speech, where I can say and do whatever and however I feel.
What would be your ultimate travel photography destination?
The project that I am working on right now. Can’t tell you where and what it is yet, but hopefully it will take place later this year, after the wedding!
I am by no means a big sports fan, but I recently went along (with my Dad) to check out one of Melbourne’s favourite cultural pastimes – a big, raucous game of Australian Rules Football. To outsiders it can seem a strange game, with both hands and feet involved, and an unpredictable oval-shaped ball. However, it certainly evokes passion from those who love it, and in the past has been described as a virtual religion!
With this in mind, I bought my Olympus Pen camera in the hope of catching some colourful fans.
Here is my favourite snap of the game.
As we write in our Field Guide, unless you’ve got a big telephoto lens or are very close, at big sporting matches you’re better off focusing on the action around you rather than the action on the field. I only had a 14-42mm lens with me, so at various moments of excitement I turned around and captured the expressions of the fans around me, which is often more interesting anyway.
*Photo by Jess
Here is an idea that is so simply practical and obvious that I wonder why it didn’t exist earlier. It’s a protective bag for your camera gear that can be inserted into your regular bag. The kind folk at Photojojo put me onto it after I featured their Sloop bag in my camera bag round-up a little while back. Check it out here.
This is the first in a semi-regular series of hotel feature posts called ‘Stay’, where we’ll share with you our favourite hotels and their neighbourhoods. While we’re not opposed to the occasional splurge, we think that a memorable hotel doesn’t need to be expensive or trendy – it just needs a certain character, a story, or an interesting location. Generic will not do!
With this in mind, we’ve dug into the archives to share a visit to Life Heritage Resort in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Hoi An is an historic river town near the coast in central Vietnam. It’s a very popular tourist destination, and if you have an aversion to mass-tourism you could be forgiven for a certain wariness about visiting. But actually, it’s delightful.
There are heaps of excellent restaurants serving region-specific dishes and several well-regarded cooking schools. Hoi An is also known for its tailors (which I made very good use of!) and certain parts of town are world heritage listed, being some of the only surviving pre-war architecture in the area. Add to this its proximity to beaches and other day trips like My Son and you have a well-rounded destination. But then again, if you want to do nothing, Life Heritage is a pretty good place to do it.
Above: River journey and lesson at Red Bridge cooking school
The resort was was modern, clean and comfy, and located right on the river near town. There were complementary bikes, a big pool with cocktails on hand, an airy cafe (Austrian themed, randomly) and complementary massages. Despite my intentions, some serious time was spent reading magazines by the pool, and I didn’t even feel guilty. Life Heritage has stated that their respect for the environment leads them to design resorts that blend, rather than contrast with the environment. It was undeniably serene, but I would encourage them to take this environmental focus further and reduce the huge amount of plastic water bottles that they provide guests with.
I think though, that despite the indulgence of the hotel, my favourite memory is of riding bikes around smaller residential streets of the town at dusk. As tourists we were (understandably) a constant target for hawkers, but on my bike I felt anonymous. Most houses had their doors and windows open, and we could see whole families and neighbours lounging around on any available surface, absorbed in the world cup on tv.
*All photos by Sean & Jess
Matthieu Gafsou has been nice enough to let us publish a selection of his internationally admired series, Alpes. His atmospheric and surreal photos of the Swiss mountains may be considered fine art, but many of the techniques he uses can be applied to travel photography.
1) Rather than waiting for “perfect light”, these shots show that soft, cloudy conditions can lend a dreamlike quality to photos:
2) Here, he steps back or turns around completely to include tourists in the frame. Not only does this give a sense of scale, but it is also tells a more interesting story about the location than your average landscape snap. I love this approach.
3) This image clearly illustrates the quality of light you get when shooting in the snow. Even though he is shooting into the sun, the tourists are perfectly exposed. That’s because the snow is highly reflective and bounces the sunlight back into the shadows. This is a great trick to remember. It can also work on bright sandy beaches.
Some more of my favorite shots from the series. There’s plenty more on his website – check them out!
As this blog settles into a kind of rhythm, I’ve been thinking about how to include something of my own life while staying true to the ‘travel’ theme. Because as much as I’d love to be out exploring the world, like most people I can only travel a few times a year. But I do try to experience new things around my home as often as I can, and I think that a sense of discovery is a big part of what this blog is about. Also, as a relatively new arrival in my own city (Melbourne) I’m really still discovering it myself!
So, I’ve decided to start a regular post called ‘Everyday Escapades’. And here it is – the first one!
This week I’ve been assisting Sean on a magazine photo shoot which has basically consisted of touring Melbourne’s best cafes, restaurants and retail stores – I know, tough job right? Anyway, he’s the pro photographer but I’ve been helping out with styling, lighting and general odd jobs. One of my more unusual duties has become known as “being a blur”, which means walking across a shot to add some movement. I think I’ve found my calling.
I can’t really share pics from the shoot yet (will post a link when they’re up) but here’s one out-take that really demonstrate my talent as a blur. It’s taken at the excellent Heide Museum of Modern Art, where an exhibition called ‘Colour Bazaar’ is currently showing.
The below piece (Sliding Ladder: Truncated Icosohedron # 1 by Nike Savvas) particularly caught my eye. The technique reminds me of those seventies wall hangings, which I love.
Anyway, if you’re in Melbourne Heide really is a great little excursion. It’s out in the suburbs on a tranquil piece of preserved farm land that began life as the home of arts patrons John and Sunday Reed in the 1950′s. Their story alone is interesting enough to warrant a visit (think bohemian lifestyles, the creation of famous Australian artworks, love affairs) and the original homestead is still there surrounded by lush garden, but is joined now by the museum itself. If you needed any more convincing, Australian chef Shannon Bennett has set up a cafe outpost of his popular Vue de monde restaurant on the property. Yum.
Mention special ‘travel clothing’ to me and normally I’d be thinking practical quick-dry trousers and jackets that make you look like you’re about to climb Mt Everest. But really, all that’s needed for travel is something that is well made enough to last a while, doesn’t get too wrinkly, and goes with a large percentage of whatever else you have packed. Oh, and preferably looks like ‘you’ rather than some person who got lost in the camping store pre-departure.
The Travellers range from Obus ticks all these boxes – some items are even reversible so that you can change the neck line style! What’s more, they’re designed and manufactured in the city I now call home – Melbourne.
As much as cultural difference is part of the appeal of travel, some things are universal. Sivan Askayo has turned the seemingly mundane subject of laundry into an ongoing photographic project with a surprising amount of life and insight. So far her “Intimacy under the Wires” series has featured the laundry of Tel Aviv, Madrid, Barcelona, London and Buenos Aires – with more to come.
Sivan, who is a New York based photographer originally from Israel, was kind enough to fill us in on the details.
This project began when I was in Israel, meeting a friend who lives in the old part of Jaffa. While waiting for him, I wandered the back streets of the flea market. The streets were quiet till I heard a woman’s voice talking to someone while hanging out her laundry. So I looked up, to locate where the voice was coming from, and saw this beautiful view of colorful clothes hanging, blown in the wind.
At first, I didn’t think to create a series of laundry, but I liked the different point of view and the way the wind gave it life and movement. Before going back to New York, I spent few days in London that ended up being a longer stay due to the volcano eruption last April. Being ‘stuck’ in London gave me more time to walk through parts of the city I didn’t see before and take pictures. In another flea/vintage market I took the shot of the pink dress and the green skirt and I realized how interesting it is to look up and see what is above our heads. Look at laundry from underneath. Since then, every place I travel, I make sure to allow myself enough time to look for laundry and shoot it.
As much as laundry is a universal thing, there are so many differences between locations and we can learn so much about the culture, the people and their life. In Barcelona and Madrid I saw a lot of football T shirts hanging, in Bnei Brak (an Orthodox city in Israel) there were mostly black robes, socks and leggings that are part of their religious uniform, and I’m sure that once I travel to India I will see more silky light saris. A lot also has to do with the climate, the time of year, holidays, etc.
We asked Sivan about the photography equipment used for the laundry project and also about her usual travel photography must have gear.
I am shooting with Nikon D90. For this project I rotate between 2 lenses; Nikon f4 24-120mm and f3.5 18-105mm. I don’t use my tripod for this project as most shots are hand held while looking up at the laundry wires.
As much as I prefer to travel light, I always end up carrying 2 bodies of camera, 2-3 lenses, a light tripod and a wireless remote shutter release. That doesn’t include my laptop and 2 external hard drives to back up my files.
No matter what equipment you have available to you, we think this clever project is a perfect example of looking out for unique subject matter during travel and creating a cohesive series of photos. Do you have a favourite subject to shoot while travelling?
The “Lo-fi” city guides by Tommy at This is Naive are, just quietly, pretty great.
They exist only on the website, and are made up of a collection of film shots of Tommy’s favourite cafes, shops and locations, followed by the address and a short note. They’re updated periodically, whenever he gets the chance to visit – at least that’s what I have deduced! I swear film can make just about anything look a little bit magical.
I’ve chosen a pic from the Paris guide just because I’ve been in a kind of Paris mood lately, but there are also guides for England, London, Madeira, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Singapore and Tokyo.
Using limited gear and unlikely subject matter, Azhar Chougle has created this beautiful series that perfectly captures Bombay’s manic and colorful street culture.
We had a chat to Azhar about his technical and creative approach to the series, which was shot on a basic Sony A850 camera with 50mm and 24mm lenses.
Traveling to work everyday, I was involuntarily immersing myself into a colorful and maddening world while in transit. I began to photograph the vehicles, drivers, interiors, dashboards – and it occurred to me that Bombay probably has the most spectacular breed of hired cabs in the world
Bombay in summertime has this beautiful harsh angular light. At times I tamed it, at times I fought with it, but I never felt I needed to introduce a flash. I didn’t want everything to be clean, lit and visible, I wanted Bombay’s glaring heat and gritty pace to be embracing each image.
I started photographing just the interiors at first, without consent. Whenever this prompted conversation with the driver, at the end of the trip is when I would request a portrait. Most were more than happy to be photographed, albeit a bit perplexed why I would show so much interest in them, their story and the taxi. Some would take a moment to do their hair in the rear view mirror, others would shyly ask if I wanted them to do anything. Not once during the project did I have any trouble while photographing them or their vehicles, but this may be owed to the fact that I speak Hindi and I am a local, so they were never suspicious of my intentions.
Azhar is in the enviable situation of dividing his time between New York and Mumbai. We asked him how this split works in relation to his work
I travel back and forth each year and create work in both places. It is a privileged position to be in, and my work changes dramatically in each location, but having the opportunity to create bodies of work in both places has helped me grow immensely. It has shaped my world view and the contrasts between the two sides of the world has informed my work throughout my career.