20 Questions with Travel Photographer & Top SA Instagrammer, Gareth Pon
Gareth Pon took time out of his busy schedule of travelling, Instagramming and dreaming to answer our 20 questions on Travel Photography.
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 new perspectives.
QWSTION Backpacks: I love backpacks! So, instead of buying fridge magnets from the new cities I visit, 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.
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, there’s a certain essence that is lost once they’re aware of the camera. If you want someone to pose, you only need to ask – most people are more than happy to have their photos taken.
5) From all the countries and cities you’ve visited, which one boasts the most diverse photo 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 Jo’burg for a fun Sunday shoot, where would that be?
It really depends on what you’re taking photos of, but I always love shooting around Gandhi Square in the Jo’burg CBD.
7) Problem: Someone goes on holiday and takes a bunch of similar-looking photos. How would you spice up your travelling portfolio to avoid those boring, monotonous photos?
I’d say: take less photos and appreciate more memories. I capture everyday travelling pics with my phone through Snapchat – sometimes it’s a lot more fun to watch your Snapchat story from the day.
Try setting a theme for yourself. A good friend if mine, Lauren Randolph, (@laurenlemon) loves colour, so she shoots accordingly. Here’s an example of how she captured Berlin’s Metro Stations http://photolauren.com/u-bahn
8) You obviously love delicious food (don’t we all!), but what food do you enjoy preparing?
I’m obsessed with Italian food, which is 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 that notifies 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 as I can then upload the image straight away!
10) Do you have 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 than you think. 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 app is Snapseed and now also the new Lightroom app. I try not to edit too much, but when I do, 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 of a helicopter while flying over the Big Apple, aka: New York City!
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 recommend you doing a multi-week trip through several European countries as they offer well-oiled public transport and flight opportunities. Each European city is unique and should you get lost, there’ll always be a local who’s ready to lend a helping hand. Otherwise, just go to New York City – it never gets old! 😉
14) Just out of curiosity… You have many published self-portraits. Do you generally take them yourself or does a fellow photographer do that for you?
It’s really a mix of both, but I try to 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 had a traumatic experience on my travel. 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.
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 relate to the people I’ve met along the way. To this date, certain countries remain my favourite pretty much because of the people I met there.
17) As you’ve said before, photography has its highs and lows. What keeps you inspired in life emotionally, creatively and spiritually?
I think the key for me has been to find a balance in life. 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 can believe that there was such a thing as a beginning) where everything in the universe was “seen” for the first time.
19) Besides going to space… do you have any other ridiculous dreams?
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 minibus. Do you have any tips ‘n tricks for the adventurer who is keen on shooting something similar?
Have one concept; don’t overcomplicate things. If you remember this, you can enjoy your travels while still having fun while you’re shooting.