Twenty Questions with Travel Photographer and Top SA Instagrammer, Gareth Pon

We were lucky enough that Gareth Pon took time out of his busy schedule of travelling, instagramming and dreaming to answer our 20 Questions on Travel Photography.

Self Portrait of Gareth Pon

Self Portrait of Gareth Pon

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

Self Portrait of Gareth Pon

Self Portrait of Gareth Pon

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

1)  As times change, your kit also tends to change.  What essential gear is currently in your backpack and why?

The Moment Lenses:
  They are essential for mobile photography and the ideal tool for getting a different perspective whenever shooting mobile.

QWSTION Backpack:  I love backpacks!  So instead of buying fridge magnets from a new city I collect backpacks.  So far the QWSTION backpacks have been both the most practical and best looking.

2)  Define what travel photography means to you?

Capturing something you can’t google.


3)  Do you use any artificial light on your travels?

Almost never, the most I’ll use is a bounce light.

Portrait of a little boy pulling a face

Portrait of a little boy pulling a face

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

Portrait of a beautiful african lady

Portrait of a beautiful african lady

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

4)  How do you approach someone you would like to photograph? Any tips for the shy guys out there?

Take the photo and ask later.  I feel that if you ask someone to pose theres a certain essence that is lost once they’re aware of the camera.  If you want someone to pose, you simply just ask – most people are more than happy to have their photo taken.

5)  From all the countries and cities you’ve visited, which one boasts the most diverse photographic opportunities?

So far I think Jordan has given me the broadest range of content.  It’s a beautiful place and totally underplayed.

6)  If you had to recommend one spot in Johannesburg for a fun, Sunday shoot, where would that be?

It really depends on what you’re photographing, but I always love shooting around Gandhi Square.

7)  A friend goes on holiday, takes a whole bunch of photos and then you are stuck having to look through tons of photos that look the same.  What would you say are a few ways to spice up your travelling portfolio to avoid those boring, monotonous photos?

I’d say take less photos and appreciate more memories.  I do a lot of my everyday capturing through snapchat and various random pics on my phone.  Sometimes it’s a lot more fun to watch your snapchat story from a day.

Try setting a theme for yourself, a perfect example of this is from a good friend of mine Lauren Randolph (@laurenlemon), she loves color so she often captures themes, here’s an example of how she captured all the Metro Stations in Berlin

8)  You obviously love delicious food (don’t we all), but what food do you enjoy making yourself?

I’m obsessed with Italian food, probably not the healthiest option. But whenever I cook I always seem to gravitate towards making a good pasta.

9)  You’ve mentioned that you have an App notifying you about cool restaurants close by.  Do you prefer taking photos of your food with your Smartphone or your DSLR camera?

It’s always easier with a smartphone, I can then upload the image straight away!

10)  Any advice on clothing while on photographic travels?

Keep it simple. You’re traveling, not going to a fashion show. Most of the time you can get away with packing a lot less. Worst case scenario, you can always pop into a store and buy a jacket if it gets too cold.

11)  What is the most used Editing App on your phone? And what kind of editing do you generally do on your travel photos?

My go-to is usually Snapseed and now the new Lightroom app.  I actually try not to edit too much, but I will usually accentuate details and colours.

12)  What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done when it comes to photography and travelling?

Hanging out a helicopter while flying over NYC.

13)  Lets say I’m travelling solo, where would you suggest I go that is safe enough while also offering diverse photographic opportunities?

I’d say do a multi-week trip through several European countries, it’s easy to fly solo and almost every city has really amazing public transport.  Each part is so unique and if you get lost, there’s always a local who’s happy to help you out.  Otherwise, just go to NYC, NYC never gets old 😉

14)  Just out of curiosity… You have many self-portraits on your Instagram feed as well as in published articles. Do you generally take them yourself or does a fellow photographer do that for you?

It’s always a mix, but I do try to always take them myself if I can.

15)  Most of us have encountered “sticky” situations while creating memories in different countries…  What is the most frightening experience you’ve faced as a travelling photographer?

To be honest I’ve never really been in a very frightening experience while traveling. I’m quite an independent person and I rarely panic about anything, so the worst is probably me getting a bit uncomfortable because I’ve run out of airtime or something.

What Gareth Pon packs

What Gareth Pon packs

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

What Garth Pon packs

What Garth Pon packs

Photo Credits: Gareth Pon

16)  In your many travelling adventures, what experiences would you say truly move you and stay inked on the sleeves of your heart?

I think the most memorable experiences have always been linked to the people I’ve met along the way.  To this date, I have certain countries that I consider my favourite and it’s very much attributed to the people I met in those countries.

17)  As you’ve said before, photography has its high’s and low’s…  What keeps you inspired in life; emotionally, creatively and spiritually?

I think the key for me has been to find a balance in life.  I think emotions, creativity and spirituality need to continually keep each other in check, if one get’s too much attention then the others fail.  Over and above everything, I always remind myself that the now is just a single stepping stone to the next adventure.

18)  If you and your camera could ROCKET back in time, what time would you like to go to and why?

I’d like to go back to the beginning (if you believe there was a beginning) where everything in the universe was ‘seen’ for the first time.

19)  Besides going to space…  Any other ridiculous dreams you have?

I’d like to design a skyline one day, very ambitious but who knows?

20)  We enjoyed your video on Petrolicious, Road Tripping with the Volkswagen.  Do you have any tips and tricks for the adventurer who is keen on shooting something similar?

Have one concept.  Don’t overcomplicate things, that way you can enjoy your travels while still having fun while you’re shooting.