Visions of Namibia

I visited Namibia for the first time in November 2013. What I experienced was far beyond my expectations. I found it to be a land of contradictions. It is a place where you can experience daily fog in the desert. Where you may have to wear a coat in the tropics. It has some of the oldest land and human artifacts on Earth, yet it is one of the youngest countries in the world.

It is also a spectacular place for photography. You could almost throw your camera in the air and be guaranteed a great photo.

This collection is the result of a five day trip I took into the Namib Desert and a shorter two day trip to Damaraland to visit the ancient rock carvings of Twyfelfontein. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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2013: A Year in Photography

2013 was an epic year for me in terms of travel. I took 84 flights and set foot in 44 different countries and territories on 5 different continents. I visited 73 new world heritage sites and probably another 20 which I had visited previously. I didn’t even count the number of miles I traveled by car, train and boat.

Photographically, it was also my best year ever. I won the Gold Medal in the North American Travel Journalism Association for my photo essay of the Canary Islands. I won a Northern Lights Award and a Lowell Thomas Award for my photo essay of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

The biggest news of the year was being named Photographer of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers.

I’ve assembled some of my favorite photos taken from 2013. They represent a cross section of all the places I’ve been. I’ve been to so many places this year and took so many photos I easily could have doubled the size of this without hurting the quality.

I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!

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Photo Essay: The Southern Coast of Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is politically one region, but in reality is two distinct places. 95% of the visitors to the province only visit the island of Newfoundland. Most people never bother to take the 15km trek across the Strait of Belle Isle to visit the other half of the province. Earlier in 2013 I had the pleasure of visiting the southern coast of Labrador, which is perhaps the most accessible part of Labrador. The purpose of my trip was to visit Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, but I discovered much more.

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On the Trail of the Yukon Quest

2013 Yukon QuestIn February 2013 I was invited to be part of the media pool which covered the Yukon Quest sled dog race which starts in Whitehose, Yukon and finishes in Fairbanks, Alaska by way of Dawson City. I knew next to nothing about dog sledding before my visit, but left fascinated by this little known sport. I also got to try my hand at driving a sled dog team and it was one of the enjoyable things I’ve done in all my travels.

Photographing the dogs and the mushers was a pleasure and I developed a respect for the men, women and canines which compete in this extreme sport.

The 2014 Yukon Quest starts February 1 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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2014 Travel Photographer of the Year!

Several days ago I came out of the Namib Desert to find out that I had been named the 2014 SATW Travel Photographer of the Year! This is a huge honor and something that I was rather surprised to have won.

The list of people who have won in the past 32 years is a who’s who of some of the best travel photographers in the world. These are normally men and women who photograph for the likes of National Geographic. I am conspicuously different from every other previous winner of the award in several ways:

  • I am the first full time blogger to win the award.
  • My work has never appeared in print. I have never had it featured in any magazine or newspaper.
  • I have never even so much as been approached by any print publication to have my work displayed.
  • I am completely self taught. I’ve never taken a course, read a book or had a mentor in the subject of photography.
  • All of my images are available for the public to view for free.

This isn’t just a triumph for me, but for everyone in the world of new media. I might have been the first such person to have won, but I will not be the last.

I also won my second Lowell Thomas Award for my photo essay of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

To celebrate, I’ve decided to publish a special photo essay of the images which got me the win. The following 20 images were taken around the world over the last 2 years and compromised the portfolio I submitted. I don’t necessarily think they are my best 20 photos, but they do represent a diversity of scenes and places.

As always, I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!

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Photographing Vietnam’s Rainy Season

My friend and two-continent club member Sherry Ott is a prolific travel photographer and blogger. She recently visited visited Vietnam during the rainy season. While that might be a deterrent for most people traveling, Sherry managed to find inspiration and beauty in the rain. Here is Sherry…


I often get people who tell me they are skipping a country in Southeast Asia because it’s rainy season, monsoon season, or it’s ‘just too hot’ at that time of year. Little do they know that traveling in rainy season is one of my best kept travel secrets and I always wonder if I should tell them what they are missing when they skip countries or locations due to a less than desirable weather season.

From a cultural experience and photography standpoint, inclement weather seasons are wonderful opportunity to see how the locals really live in situations that we would deem less desirable. You get a true feel for the country and local culture and traditions through the ‘tough’ times. On top of it you get introduced to a number of new products that are used in that inclement weather season that you probably never even dreamed of. In Vietnam you’ll see surprising products such as the double headed ponchos or ponchos with a headlight window.

On my recent trip to Saigon during rainy season, I was lucky enough to have the skies open up and pour down their wrath on city streets. I was on a motorbike myself, so I had a great perspective for photography and luckily I had proper rain gear for my camera. I watched as the streets flooded rapidly and the Vietnamese locals didn’t skip a beat. Rain doesn’t stop them – and it shouldn’t stop you.
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Photo Essay – Andorra

Andorra might be one of the smallest countries in the world, but it is certainly high on the list of the most picturesque. Located high in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, Andorra is one of the world’s oldest democracies and the world’s only co-principality (the co-heads of state are the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell in Spain). It is also the only country in the world which uses Catalan as the official language.

Andorra is difficult to get to, but it is worth the trip. It is one of the few countries in the world that lacks both a train station or an airport. To get there you have to come by car or bus from Spain or France. The most common route is to fly to Barcelona and take a 3 hour drive through the Pyrenees.

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Photo Essay : Italy

This May 11-24 I’ll be leading a travel photography tour through Italy with G Adventures. We will be traveling from Venice to Rome visiting many of the highlights of Italy along the way: Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Sienna, Vatican City, Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. I’ve previously visited most of the locations on the tour and have had the pleasure to photograph them already. Here is a taste of some of the photos you will be able to come back with if you join me on the tour.

I selected Italy for the 2013 tour because it is a travel photography gold mine. Almost every village and train station has some photogenic quality about it. Not only will you walk away with great image, but I’ll also be working with you one-on-one to help improve your technique.

Sales pitch over. Enjoy the photos!
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Photo Essay : The Art of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

As amazing as the landscape and wildlife of Haida Gwaii are, the artwork created by the talented Haida artists is just as impressive. For decades the Haida art was surpressed by the Canadian government. In the 1960’s however, the government loosened controls on Haida culture and the result of the Haida Renaissance. Artists such has Bill Reid became world renowned and his work can be seen today at the Vancouver Airport and on the Canadian $20 bill.

Today Haida artists have continued their work promoting Haida culture around the world. While in Haida Gwaii I had the pleasure of meeting Haida artist Christian White, who’s work is featured in this photo essay. As one of the top Haida artists in the world, his work can command into the 6-figures.

I found Haida artwork to be come of the most beautiful and compelling creations I’ve seen in North America. During my travels I seldom buy artwork, but I would seriously consider adding a Haida piece to my home (if I had one).
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