My Approach to Landscape and Travel Photography
Landscape and Travel Photography
For as long as I can remember, I have always been attracted to the great outdoors and the adventure it can offer. I am happiest when I'm outdoors climbing a mountain, navigating my way up a Jungle stream with a pack on my back or diving into an ice cold pool of water. Nature never fails to give me a buzz and makes me feel alive. It's this feeling that I want to get across in my landscape and travel photography, the sense of adventure, breathing in the air and feeling full of life.
I have always pursued work of an outdoor nature. In 2004 I joined the military as an infantryman which saw me running all over the UK's wettest hills and forests and some time in Iraq and Afghanistan too. Whenever we were out on exercise or on operations I loved it; I was getting paid to navigate my way through nature, get some mud on my boots and crawl through forests and desert with ridiculous weights on my back. My first ever flight was actually on my 18th Birthday leaving for Iraq! Leaving the military in 2008 left me with somewhat of a 'nature and adventure void' that needed to be filled. The military had given me my first taste of adventure. This led me to travel, a lot.
I spent about one week at home after leaving the military and hopped onto a plane to Japan as part of a one year working holiday. This would be my first experience of really living abroad, getting to know a culture and learning a new language. It was also where my love of photography began as I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon 450D and a Sigma 17-70mm lens. Landscape and Travel photography quickly became my favourite hobby and I started to take my camera with me on all my nature trips and adventures. I loved my time in Japan and it has been part of my life ever since.
Following Japan, I returned home to the UK to pursue my next adventure; studying Thai language as part of a BA degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. The third year of the course was an exchange with a Thai University in Bangkok and I thought it would be a good idea to travel there by train...from London! It was a trip of a lifetime and took months to plan the logistics behind all the train times, visas and potential routes. It was a fascinating experience to see how cultures changed as we passed timezone after timezone on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I really got to know my camera on this trip but it wasn't until after my degree when I was living and working for the International Red Cross in Thailand that I started to take my travel photography further.
Bangkok is such a great hub and gave me opportunities to travel not just within Thailand but also to the epic caves of Vietnam, the temples of Bagan, the majestic mountains of Nepal and numerous trips to Japan. I honed my skills and eventually, photography started to become a viable option to make a living. As the years went on, I started to get closer to that elusive dream, making a living from my passion.
Landscape and Travel Photography - My Style
I think my experiences and love of the outdoors and adventure have really shaped my style as a landscape and travel photographer. I want the audience to be able to feel or imagine being right there in the photo, or inspire them to travel and find their own adventures. I love little people in big, open landscapes to give a sense of scale and wonder to the landscape. Adventure is what it's all about.
Taking the shot is always the easy part. It's getting on a plane for 11 hours, doing the research, booking a ferry in a foreign language, camping out in the Jungle when it is pouring with rain that really allows me to get the shot. If you don't get up and out that door, that perfect shot will never happen. I've definitely been able to tap into my past military experience to help me get out in the field more to some fantastic locations. Being at ease with nature and fieldcraft really helps me get the photographs that I set out to achieve. I always want to be part of the adventure, not just photographing it from the sidelines. When a client hires me, I'm prepared to go pretty much anywhere to get the shots they need. I love it.
"I always want to be part of the adventure, not photographing it from the sidelines."
When it comes to adventure, I like to photograph all if it including all the moments in-between. Getting ready, the road side brew etc. so I can show the whole story of the adventure through the good times and the tough times! It's also important for me to chase the light and show off a landscape in all its glory. This means waking up early or staying that little bit longer for sunset and twilight in the hope of capturing some magical light.
My Photography Gear
The most important thing to me about my photography gear is that it can handle the elements and remain reliable in tough environments. I currently own -
- Canon 6D (portrait work)
- Sony A7ii (main travel camera)
- Sony A6000 (back up travel camera)
- 16-35, 28, 35, 55 and 85mm lenses
- Sirui T-025x Travel Tripod
- Full Size Tripod
The cameras are due for an upgrade soon as Sony is making some great advances in battery life and reliability and I dare say my trusty Canon 6D will soon change into a Sony camera. Overall though, this set up has allowed me to take great landscape and travel photographs in a variety of environments and hasn't failed me yet. I pack according to the job and task at hand.
UK Travel, Adventure and Landscape Photographer
Overall, it's all about getting stuck in and getting out there. It's important to have the right tools for the job and even more important to have the field skills to enable oneself to go to more remote and extreme environments. I personally love adventure and would have a hard time living without it, and I want this 'spirit of adventure' to come through in my photography. Outdoor and Adventure Photography really is my passion in life. I look forward to working with you on some awesome adventures!
Sam Spicer is a UK travel, landscape and outdoor adventure photographer available for hire in the UK and Worldwide.
Based in London and Kent, I am ready to travel anywhere. I can't wait for the next adventure..
For more outdoor adventure and landscape photography, please visit my travel portfolio by clicking here.