In 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.
One thing that traveling has done for me is that it has a given me a more visceral and emotional connection to many places around the world. When a disaster strikes someplace I’ve been, it isn’t just a abstract curiosity. Traveling makes the people and places who are effected real.
The Philippines is a real place to me. I spent almost a month exploring the country and I’ve met dozens and dozens of Filipinos around the world since my visit. I’ve consistently said that Filipinos might be my favorite people in the world. I’ve literally met Filipinos on every continent (that includes Antarctica!)
As you are aware the Philippines was hit by a devastating typhoon only months after the same region was hit by a large earthquake. There are estimates of 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands without homes.
G Adventures and Planeterra is looking to raise money for reconstruction efforts. G Adventures will match every dollar raised up to $30,000. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Every little bit adds up.
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.
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!
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.