The rise of travel photography is quite simply phenomenal. Where once we’d associate it with the front page of National Geographic, something way beyond our reach, the age of the smartphone has flipped that on its head, turning everyone into a travel photographer. Magazines want your pictures; companies want the help of your Instagram feeds.
Travel Photography’s origins date back to the 1850s and the likes of Francis Bedford, Solomon Nunes Carvalho, and Francis Fifth, who captured the Middle East as well as many towns in the United Kingdom.
Today, you could cite the likes of Expert Vagabond, Kirsten Alana, and Daniel Kordan as the ground-breaking travel photographers, collecting tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. It’s a new world we live in and each and every one of us can be a travel photographer…if we want to be.
That’s not to say there isn’t an art to it. It takes an eye for the perfect shot, finding the ideal light, the ideal shade, and most importantly being in the right place at the right time.
A recent competition by Sovereign recognised the revolution of travel photography and the ‘anyone can do it’ attitude, asking consumers to capture their ‘Paradise Moment’ and post them on social media for the chance to win £1,000.
The competition proved anyone can do it with hundreds of entries, showcasing all four corners of the globe. The winner was 34-year-old Lawyer Shuo Huang, whose image overlooking Table Mountain (above) typified the trials and tribulations of getting the right shot.
“I climbed Lion’s Head twice to get this sunrise shot of Table Mountain but it was worth it. I had visualised the composition beforehand but the result had even surpassed by own imagination.
It wasn’t just the sweaty one hour climb and clamber to get there that required that extra bit of willpower, it was also having to get up at 5am each morning in the dark.”
But it wasn’t just the once he had to make that climb.
“During the first attempt I was within touching distance of the top but thick clouds had enveloped the entire landscape and visibility was reduced to zero.
With a black cloud hanging over my head (pun intended!), it was a long discouraging slog back down without even taking off my lens cap. I was thwarted by those damn clouds!
“Given that the next day was the day I fly home, I was forced to try again. However, this time the clouds had switched its allegiance. I called it “a fluffy table cloth”. In the space of 24 hours, the clouds had both ruined and inspired my photography.”
Shuo is the archetypal modern-day travel blogger, inspired by reading Travel Photography: A Guide to Taking Better Pictures on a night bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca.
It was a lightbulb moment that allowed him to learn on the go and document his adventure from Mexico City to Rio de Janeiro. His passion has since taken him all over the world, taking shots on all but one continent.
“Travelling stokes my curiosity and offers a new “first-time” experience, a feeling that I have discovered something for myself. Travel photography forces me to have an unerring appreciation of different landscapes and communities. Photography is simple. It makes me slow down, appreciate my surroundings, and try to capture beautiful places under phenomenal light.”
That is captured perfectly in his shot overlooking Table Mountain; there would be few that claim it isn’t a paradise moment.
Shuo added, “My notion of paradise is not a specific beach nor is it perched on top of a particular mountain as a matter of fact it wasn’t even a location as such.
It was a feeling in one short moment of being awe-inspired by the world and humbled at her feet. Words will not do justice the feeling of being captivated by the first sun rays of a new dawn to illuminate the landscape.”
But that’s what paradise is, it’s an idyllic location specific to each and every one of us. And what’s more, thanks to Instagram, Facebook, and other social media networks, they can be shared instantly and captured forever.