Vanguard is pleased to announce the newest addition to the Vanguard Professional team: award-winning travel photographer Laurence Norah.
Laurence is one half of the travel blogging duo at Finding the Universe, a founding member of Light Moves Creative, and President-Elect of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association. His aim is to frame the wonders of the world in such a way as to make them new again, using different processing techniques to tell the story. His goal is to inspire others to visit the destinations he's been to, as well as take their own photography to the next level. He travels the world, taking pictures and teaching photography to all levels. We got to ask him a few questions...
How did you first get into the world of travel photography and blogging?
My love of photography started when I was 13 - my parents gave me a Canon AE-1 film SLR for my birthday. It's the gift that has shaped my life. At the time I was lucky enough to be living in the Seychelles, which is a rather photogenic place to learn photography!
The blogging came much later after I'd been traveling full time for a year in Australia. I'd been writing a diary for myself, and uploading images of the trip to Facebook, and decided that it would be more efficient to do it all in one place. So Finding the Universe was born.
Tell us about your site Finding The Universe and what you hope to accomplish with it.
I think the world is a spectacularly fascinating place. I also think that the more we travel, the more we start to understand how alike we are. So I think travel is a good thing for everyone to experience if they are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so.
My goal with Finding the Universe is to try and share some of that beauty with my readers, hopefully inspiring them to get out there and experience it themselves, sprinkled with some facts, possibly some funny tales, and even some photography tips. If none of that interests, well, a bit of eye candy is always nice!
Can you tell me a bit about your involvement with Light Moves Creative?
This was a concept I came up with two of my incredibly talented photography friends - Daniel Nahabedian and Dustin Main. I really believe that a group can be worth so much more than the sum of its parts, and I'm the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn in terms of photography.
We put Lightmoves together so that we could offer brands and individuals something a bit different than what you may be able to achieve with just one photographer, drawing upon our diverse styles and knowledge. Dan, for example, shoots really great classic style photography. I like to post process my work a bit more, and Dustin shoots some fantastically creative projects.
We do teaching projects, workshops and photo walks around the world, as well as offering unique photography solutions to brands who want to stand out from the crowd. We also still have the flexibility to work individually as our own brand. It's win-win for all three of us, and anyone we work with.
What essential photography gear do you take with you everywhere you go?
Obviously the basics - a camera body, currently a Canon 6D, and a couple of lenses. I travel relatively light as I tend to carry everything with me, so usually a wide angle lens in the 17-40 range, and then a telephoto 70-200. I love the 6D as it has the built-in GPS which helps me remember where I've been shooting, plus I can remote control it with wifi from my smartphone.
In terms of essentials beyond that, a tripod is of course absolutely critical to my work (ideally a lightweight one!) - I use the Alta Pro 254CT with a BBH-200 ball head. I also always have a dry bag with me in case of a downpour, as well as a selection of filters (CPL and ND).
What sort of subjects or compositions do you find the most interesting for photographs? What is your photographic process like - from conceptualizing a shot to processing?
I love landscapes - there's nothing I enjoy more than getting out into the world and shooting some glorious mountains surrounded by just the right amount of cloud. I also really love cities - particularly the challenge of finding new and creative ways to present familiar scenes. I've had conversations with readers from the cities I've visited who have set my photos as their Facebook cover photos because they loved how I saw it - for me that is a success.
Beyond that, I love candid portraiture, but I pretty much only do that when I'm around friends as I never feel comfortable shooting strangers.
In terms of process, usually I will just wander a destination with my camera to get some ideas, and then if I see something I like I will come back and shoot with the best light. I do a lot of HDR and long exposure photography, and I process my photos fairly extensively.
I don't have a one size fits all approach - I love to see what I can achieve from my RAW files after the shoot, although usually, I can tell straight away what's going to work or not with each photo.
What is your favorite destination so far? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?
I always struggle with the notion of favorites - I do my best to enjoy a place and find the unique angle that makes it special, rather than playing a comparison game. However, from a photographic point of view, New Zealand is a mind-blowing destination, particularly for landscape photography, because the landscapes are just out of this world.
We traveled around as it was coming into Winter, and on the south island in particular that meant it was fairly cold. Waking up in our camper each morning to find the condensation from our breath had frozen on the inside walls made getting up tough - but the views were worth it!
The best – or most surprising - meal you’ve had while abroad?
I was just out in Sri Lanka, and the food there was fantastic. I love spicey food, and growing up in the Seychelles curry was on the menu a lot. There was also a local specialty - salted fish. I was thrilled to find that the Sri Lankans are just as fond of curry (if not more so - it's the main meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner!) as the Seychellois, plus they also do salted fish!
If you had to pick one photo of your own that, at least at this moment, you like best, which would it be and why?
Ah! Favorites! It's always a tough call, but I have a couple from New Zealand that are always very calming, one of a beach and one of Lake Tekapo. I also recently published a shot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris which was incredibly popular, so that's up there in my favorites list at the moment as well. For me though, it's always about the next great photo!
Which photographers have influenced you, or which do you look to for inspiration?
In terms of the style of processing I love to do, I very much enjoy the work of Trey Ratcliff and Ken Kaminesky. I've also recently started to really enjoy the work of Paul Pichugin and Daniel Cheong, who do some really great stuff. Daniel Cheong in particular really pushes the boundaries of what is possible at the intersection of digital art and photography, while Paul's nightscapes from Australia have to be seen to be believed.
Any advice to aspiring photographers?
Always have a camera on you, take more photos, shoot in RAW, and learn your way around some post-processing software!
Laurence Norah is an award-winning travel photographer who loves to present the wonders of the world in new and interesting ways and to inspire and teach aspiring photographers around the world. Visit his blog, Finding the Universe, and site, Light Moves Creative. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.