Podcast: Travel or Photography?


At the 2016 OPTIC Imaging Conference, we were immersed in the riches of nature and travel photography; so many talented and distinguished photographers were displaying work and discussing their experiences and craft. We at the podcast were fortunate to be able to sit down with several National Geographic photographers for informal yet intimate chats on subjects ranging from photographic influences to shooting styles to gear choices. This week’s podcast presents a selection or compendium, if you will, of highlights from these conversations. We spoke on a variety of topics but we ended each chat with this question: if you had to choose between photography and travel, which would it be? The answers might surprise you.

Photograph above © Katrin Eismann

Guests: Ralph Lee Hopkins, Vincent Versace, Brenda Tharp, Jay Dickman, Katrin Eismann, Chris Nicholson




Photographs © Chris Nicholson




Photographs © Ralph Lee Hopkins




Photographs © Katrin Eismann




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Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves


I started travel and photography about 65 years ago. As my wife has pointed out to me many times, when I am intent on getting my shots, I'm a lousy travel companion, and am often unaware of what's going on around me. So now we have two kinds of trips; photo trips (usually to places we've been before) and I bring all the gear, and travel trips, where I bring a pocket camera for snapshots and documentation. On those trips, the images are recorded in memory (along with converations with locals, recollections of great meals without worrying about the lighting on the bouillabaise, etc.) I suppose some people can do well with both at the same time, but as I've discovered, I'm not one of them.

Frank...Thank you for the comment and thanks for listening. I think you and your wife came up with the perfect solution.  It can be very annoying to the non-photographer (or even the faster photographer) to continue to wait while we get the perfect shot.  I have been on both sides of that scenario and truth is, its also horrible to have to rush your photography or feel that someone is waiting for you (patiently or otherwise).  So yes, two trips is a good idea or going out on your own in the morning or evening with your gear and keeping it tucked away the rest of the day can also be an option.  And you make a good point about what we miss when we're shooting and how important it is to enjoy a moment (or a meal) without documenting it.  Thanks again.

I've experienced the same thing Frank. In the spring of 2016, my wife and I rode a BMW motorcycle through 10 countries in S.E. Europe. We started in Budapest Hungary and rode to Istanbul Turkey and back. I thought it would be a great experience to do a lot of photography. While I was photographing the falls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia, my wife became irritated with me and said "I guess I don't need to be here. Why don't you put the camera away and be in the moment". I did put the camera away, and for the rest of the trip I was consigned to taking "snap shots" like the rest of the tourists. She's a great wife, and has suggested that I take trips by myself so I can consentrate on my photography. One solo trip I've been trying to plan is to Iceland in the winter to photograph the Northern Lights. That's definitely a trip she would prefer to stay home anyway.




Rod...that motorcycle trip sounds incredible, kudos to you and your wife.  Iceland is a great destination winter or summer, also for the Northern Lights, take a look at the spot mentioned in this short piece... All the best.