I first met Laura on a photography course in Morocco three years ago. Laura has now moved from England to Bangalore in India where she is experiencing a whole new world. I caught up with Laura when she was over here for a flying visit last week and listened with growing envy and awe as she talked about her amazing life as an intrepid traveller with a camera.
As we begin 2013 I have realised how much of a milestone it brings with it for me. Having nearly completed my first year of living in India, I can look back and appreciate just how much I have experienced and learnt over the last year. I can’t say it’s been easy but it’s certainly helped me learn a lot more about my photography and myself. Photography has been a loose hobby of mine since I received my first SLR camera for my 18th birthday. I still have that Pentax ME Super and lenses which I dig out every once in a while to marvel over the neat, attractive design which has now made a comeback in modern cameras. Today I use a Nikon D700 and that loose hobby became a real passion when finances enabled me to travel more.
I have visited some amazing places offering a diversity of culture and people but my true loves in this world is wildlife. Being able to capture a split moment of a wild animals daily life on camera to look back at gives me immense pleasure. Photographing wildlife sometimes takes a lot of patience, keeping still and quiet for long lengths of time can really be uncomfortable. Generally the results are all worth it and those bites, aches and pains become distant memories. It’s not just the images that make it rewarding, the journey and adventures of getting those images are part of the overall experience. A recent trip to Borneo in south east Asia offered some amazing wildlife opportunities. Borneo has one of the oldest rainforests in the world and is home to many endemic species of fauna and flora. One of these animals is the Orangutan. They are incredibly intelligent primates, which are now endangered due to poachers and the loss of their natural habitat from destruction. It is very rare to see one clearly in the wild as they tend to stay high up in the tree canopies, you may be able to hear them but no chance of seeing them. However, there are several conservations and rehabilitation centres that enable you the opportunity of getting pretty close to these amazing animals.
Since moving from the UK to India, my daily photo opportunities have changed dramatically. It has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me. Whereas in the UK I could wonder out into my garden and play to my hearts content with a macro lens or capture the birds feeding on my bird table, India isn’t that easy. To really capture the essence of India you have to get out into the streets or markets and photograph life as it unfolds in front of you. Some things you may find disturbing or unpleasant but mostly its full of colour and friendliness.
There are obviously some rules you have to follow. Genuinely engage and make conversation with your subject. Ask if you can take a photo of them and show them the image on the camera if possible. If they ask for you to send them a copy, try if possible to fulfil that promise. This small gesture means so much to the person. Occasionally there can be difficult moments. Being a female westerner with an expensive looking camera prompts some people to demand money. If that happens I tend to just walk away. In some circumstances if people don’t ask for money I will give a small amount of rupees as a way of saying thank you, a little money can go a long way here.
We expect to be located in India for the next 18 months at least. In this time I hope to do a lot more travelling around Indian continent and further east. Our next booked trip is in August to Papua New Guinea. I’m so excited and it will provide me with some fascinating photography opportunities. Living in India is a real contrast to the western life I’ve had. It has taught me to try and be more relaxed about things. For example it really doesn’t matter if the power and internet goes off. It has highlighted all the things we take for granted and to make the most of the simple things in life. Most of all it has shown me the importance of friends and family. I’ve tried to stop stressing about having my life so organized and try to enjoy life from day to day, surely it must put a stop to all those frown lines and grey hair.