Photography Changed My Approach to Travel

Photography Changes You

I believe photography changes travel, it enriches it! As alcohol transforms the introvert, photography entered my bloodstream and transformed me into a bolder traveler. When I pick up my camera, I change. My curiosity and enthusiasm are elevated. My ability to engage with strangers doubles, like alcohol levels rising with each shot.

Dorothea Lange sums this up well…

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. 
– Dorothea Lange

Photography: The Access All Areas Pass to the World

Since focusing on travel photography, I feel like I’ve got a lucky-access-all-areas pass to meet and see the most amazing people and see some of the most amazing places on earth.

I’ve always been an intrepid traveler, at just 18 I was already backpacking in rural parts of China, and privileged enough to stay in a remote island village in 1995. China was very different back then.

When I was a young guy, my first ever solo holiday was paragliding in the French Alps. I met my wife ski instructing, and have always enjoyed hiking, sailing, paragliding, and running. I’ve always loved adventure and the great outdoors, I’ve felt I was an intrepid traveller. However, since getting into travel photography the world seems to get bigger,  more doors seem to open.

To Boldly Knock

Photography has given my adventures a new focus. I’m better able to engage strangers, to boldly knock doors where no (white) man has knocked before. To eat and stay at tribal families’ homes, finding out about their life.

When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear. 
– Alfred Eisenstaedt

Photography helps me to click with people, taking me beyond a traveler and towards new friendships. Speaking Chinese has, of course, magnified the effect, and I’ve realized, when you click with someone, not only is life richer, but the photos hold some of that beauty and the images come alive.

It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.
– Alfred Eisenstaedt

Photography Enriches Your Travel Experiences

As a photographer, I find myself in unique places at unearthly hours, on a raft at 3 am, wading a Chinese river in the black of night to climb a remote peak before dawn. I’ve had the honor/horror to drink pigs blood, while in a Chinese tribal village festival meal. I’ve stood in glacial lakes at -20, and walked out onto frozen oceans in the Baltic Sea to photograph the beautiful cracks in the ice around me. I find myself in places and situations I just would not have experienced without my camera, including shooting a wedding at 4000m on one of the worlds most dangerous active volcanos, in war-torn D.R. Congo.

It’s my hope that people feel the way I did when a photographed a landscape. I want the viewer to see a glimpse of someone’s personality, the connection I had with the person, or record that precise moment.

I want people to imagine themselves there, or touched by the beauty (person or place) in my photos. If you end up going there or appreciating a new view, that’s awesome!

People ask me my style. That’s hard to answer, as it is always developing. I think I am still forming it. I know this so far… My style is darker, moody and with a fine art touch. I don’t want to recover the shadows; I want to leave details in the dark.

Has photography changed the way you travel? Let me know, I’d love to learn what it’s done for you!

Photography is Still Changing Me

I think photography’s made me more confident, and a more gracious person. I can’t imagine not being a photographer, at least in that I will always see light, moments, faces, expressions, things I want to capture everywhere, no matter if it’s my iPhone or pro kit.

  • I like what the camera has done to me.
  • I like the people it brings to me.
  • I hate leaving my camera at home.

I wish my camera were smaller, lighter and fits in my coat pocket. I often consider jumping ship from Nikon to Leica.

I believe each person was created to use their abilities and passions to bless others, no matter the industry, I am certain photography and teaching is mine.  It inspires me, drives curiosity and has helped me feel a deeper connection to people and places.

As photographers we’re all natural explorers, searching for interesting light, shapes, stories, and life. We’re perpetually learning, and exploring new ideas. I continue to learn while leading workshops, tours or guiding some of the worlds best photographers, but also I am constantly inspired by the amateurs I guide. All this keeps my work fresh. Every trip’s a new adventure! So I am thrilled to pull together my years of experience in travel, photography, and tourism consulting to good use. Mia and I founded Gatsby, a total photographer focused bespoke travel service designed to enable and empower photographers, to encourage and serve others like us.

The best thing about my job is meeting new people, especially photographers and passionate travellers, so if you’re visiting China or just like to share travel experiences and stories, please do connect with me on Instagram @andybeales Facebook, or drop me an email.

Better still, shoot with me. Be first to know about upcoming trips

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