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Andrew Newey Interview - Top travel photographer Andrew Newey chats to us about his work.
How did you discover your passion for photography and travel?
With itchy feet getting the better of me, I started traveling the world in my early 20’s and it was upon returning home from my first trip with mediocre pictures that I decided to study photography. After a few weeks I was hooked and because I had such a burning desire to see much more of the world, it was natural for me to combine the two passions and pursue travel photography as a career.
Which came first, a love of travel or photography?
Further to the answer above it was less than a week before leaving the country for a six month backpacking trip to “find myself” when I realised I did not have a camera! I bought an APS style compact but hardly took any pictures with it because I thought I would remember everything I saw. Having later got into photography I then began to regret not taking more pictures from that trip and felt compelled to hit the road and do it all again!
Congratulations on your win at TPOTY. Could you talk us through how the winning photo (above) came about?
Thank you! I had wanted to photograph the Mentawai people for some time, so whilst working in Papua New Guinea in 2011 I decided to take advantage of the relatively close proximity and pay them a visit. Their culture is in danger of vanishing before long as the Indonesian government tries to assimilate them into government villages and ban age-old traditions and customs, so the main aim was to photographically document their traditional way of life and try to portray them as naturally as possible before it is too late. The TPOTY 2012 ‘Best Single Image in a Portfolio’ in the Journey’s category is of a Shaman and his wife resting against the giant roots of a tree after hunting in the jungle.
What equipment do you use?
My preferred kit for travel photography usually consists of 2 x Canon EOS 5D Mark II bodies, a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L, Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L and Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L lens, and numerous Lowepro cases. The images are backed up via a 10” Netbook computer to 2 x Sandisk Ultra Solid State Backup Drives. I use a tripod less and less these days and really only for time lapse & video work.
What do you aim to achieve from your pictures?
Every day in the media we hear negative stories from around the world which are accompanied by equally negative pictures, but not so many positives. So I try to capture and share the beauty of the world through thought provoking photography, which hopefully evokes some kind of emotion.
Did you find that you easily integrated with the people you were photographing?
I live quite modestly compared to some and could quite easily live without all the mod cons and technology that we find ourselves surrounded by in this day and age. Living with indigenous people in remote communities is actually surprisingly easy for me as I can make do without the creature comforts we have become accustomed to in the Western world, which of course makes it easier to integrate. Making an effort to learn the language, customs and rituals helps the people warm to you much better which results in far more intimate experiences, and of course pictures.
Ironically, when I was in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea a couple of years ago it was quite hard to find a family to live with because they were too embarrassed of the way they live. They assumed that because we were from the West we were used to living in luxury and that we would find it too difficult to cope with their basic lifestyle. They took a lot of convincing that we were there to experience their way of life and if that meant sleeping on the floor of a wooden hut and doing our business in a hole in the ground, then so be it.
Tell us a bit about the different communities you have photographed and why you chose to stay with them.
When travelling I quite often live with the people I photograph, so before the camera even comes out of the bag I spend time getting to know them, building up a rapport and learning about their life, culture and traditions. I would travel the same way even if I was not a photographer. It saddens me to see so many tourists (and professional photographers) shoving their camera in peoples’ faces, invading their privacy and not even asking permission to take their picture. This behaviour only gives tourists & photographers a bad name and will rarely result in a good picture. Immersing yourself into their way of life is an incredibly rewarding experience that can teach us a lot.
For more information on Andrew and his photography, take a look at his website and his Facebook page.