Interview with Tom L : A Dedicated Travel Photographer and A Blogger
Tom L is a travel photographer and he visits all those places that ordinary tourists almost always skip. For example: Albania, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Georgia, Jordan, The Amazon, Slovakia, Iceland, Kazakhstan etc. He love to explore all the unknown and seemingly uninteresting places.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your blog(s)/website(s),and your aspirations and your hobbies!
My name is Tom and I am addicted to traveling. I love to explore all the unknown and seemingly uninteresting places that ordinary tourists hardly ever visit. All my friends, when going on vacation, choose places like London, Paris, Thailand, Maldives, Spain, etc… I want to see something different. I went to Paris and London and, after traveling to nearly 50 countries in the world, they are my least favorite cities. So cold and concrete.
So, I decided to see what it’s really like in places never shown in the media (or always in a negative way): Ukraine, Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, the north of Brazil (of course everyone knows Rio but no one the amazing northern states), Bosnia, Montenegro etc…
And I was literally shocked when I discovered that Tbilisi in Georgia is thousands times more romantic than Paris and more oriental than overrun by tourists Istanbul, Batumi is a Disney like, most colorful and original sea town I’ve seen, Armenia boasts the best views of the biblical mountain Ararat, Albania has absolutely the best, clearest and wild beaches with zero tourists in Europe and also beautiful and cozy, authentic little towns and friendly locals. The experience you get while standing at Darvaza (Door To Hell) crater in Turkmenistan is absolutely unique and extraordinary. I could go on forever.
The main goal for me is to show people how amazing the world can be beyond hotels and resorts and to encourage them to go out of their
comfort zone and start exploring different, unknown parts which are so much better than those overrated tourist traps!
2. How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of feel do you try and create in your photos?
We all know when we type in google “Paris” we’ll end up with beautifully, professionally taken photos, and when we type “Kiev” or
“Albania”, the photos won’t be great. So I want to show through my photos that those places that don’t have exposure in the media are as exciting and beautiful as (and often much more beautiful than) those top tourist destinations.
3. What does photography mean to you?
As I mentioned above, it’s a tool for me to encourage people to visit the world. When I first said that I was visiting Albania, my friends went: “Albania? Are you crazy? Why not Spain?” When they saw the photos, perfectly clear sea with white sand (beaches in Spain can’t compete!) now this summer everyone goes to Albania!
4. Photography is your passion or profession or both?
Photography is a part of what I want to express. The other part is traveling and describing the unknown places. All this started as a
hobby and now slowly is turning into a profession.
5. What do you do when you are not clicking any pics?
I write, maintain my website and work on the photos.
6. What are the characteristics that a good Travel Photographer needs to have?
It all depends what you want to express. Most travel photographers travel to South East Asia and take photos of local people there. This is what’s ‘trendy’ now. It’s different for me, I am interested the most in less visited countries and want to give an advice what to visit and how to get there. Whatever works for you, is good. But the only thing you have to have is – passion. Expensive equipment
is not that important at all.
7. Tell me about some of the catchy people you have met while clicking pictures?
I’ve met a lot of amazing people while traveling, most of whom I am still in touch with. I noticed that the less touristy and more
authentic an area is, the people (both the tourists and locals) tend to be nicer and more open and friendly. For example, in Thailand I could barely make any friends (most of them where drunk westerners), and felt that locals want to trick me everywhere (and they did!), and in Nepal in Himalayas, in Albania and in The Amazon I met the nicest and most amazing people!
8. What is the best compliment do you have ever? Could you please share Happiest Moment in your Photography Life?
I think the best is when I hear thanks from people that my work and information I give helps find them what they’ve been looking for.
9. What are some simple tips for taking great travel photos?
Some photographers spend 3 days at one place and try thousands of photos at different times of day and then spend ages editing them. I
don’t have this luxury as often I have to take photos in a hurry, from a moving bus, in extremely uncomfortable circumstances or during horrible weather. And I know that I won’t have any chance to repeat it. So, my advice is – don’t go crazy with all the settings and carefulness – just be spontaneous and keep traveling!
10. How do you pick the spots you travel to?
The less visited a place is, the better. For example my next trip will be Kazakhstan and then Greenland. Although I make some exceptions: for example I love history, archaeology and old towns of all sorts. That’s why I loved the cities in Italy and in Eastern Europe even though they were really popular.
I also love spectacular, unspoiled nature – wild mountain ranges, amazing sea, deserts etc…
11. I’m sure you’ve taken hundreds of photos over the years, but do you have a favorite?
I don’t… It’s impossible to choose one – I have fond memories of most of the places I’ve traveled to. It’s impossible to even choose
one photo from each place – all of them bring back the feelings I had when I was there.
12. What is your favorite place to click photographs?
Little, cozy old towns – medieval, Arabic, Eastern European, Asian, South American etc. My favorites: Mostar in Bosnia, Gjirokaster in
Albania, old town in Prague, Olinda in Brazil, Pitigliano in Italy, Tbilisi in Georgia, Chefcheoen in Morocco, Santorini in Greece and
Ghandruk in Nepal. I dislike huge, cold, concrete cities like London, Paris or Bangkok. The only exception would be Kiev – colorful and beautiful.
Also, I love nature – especially mountains and coasts. But the only beaches I like are small coves surrounded by cliffs – I don’t enjoy flat, long, wide beaches with hundreds of tourists. My favorites: Albanian riviera is an absolute winner, then Shipwreck beach in Greece, Achill Island in Ireland, Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Armenian monasteries, Yangykala Canyons in Turkmenistan, Lakshadweep Islands in India and Petra in Jordan.
13. What’s your secret tip for beginners, who want to start with travel photography?
If you start traveling there is no way you don’t find something interesting. It’s exciting and the possibilities of great shots will
come naturally. My only advise is when taking photos of landscapes – people tend to place the horizon right in the middle – sometimes it’s better to include less sky and more of what’s ahead of us in the photo – you’ll get a sense of depth. It’s the same when taking photos of people – remember the person you’re taking a photo of doesn’t need to be in the center.
If you want to get the amazing, extremely blue color of sea water, get a polarizing filter. It will remove the sun reflection from the
surface of water and the sea will be as colorful as in real life.
14. Five adjectives that describe you.
Adventurous, spontaneous, stubborn, different, easy-going.
15. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments?
It depends, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’ve noticed that people go crazy when I mention anything negative about everyone’s
favorite destination now – Thailand. This is just my opinion and I’m really happy if you loved it. I just prefer other places. Also,
Bangkok was the only city where I was tricked on a daily basis, given wrong information in tourist centers and even threatened to be
murdered by a local.
But anyway there are things I love about Thailand – Pad Thai for example! It was the best meal I’ve ever had! I also liked the James Bond island and the Erewan Waterfalls.
16. You have a website also, please tell me about that?
On my website http://www.adventurous-travels.com you can find some amazing alternative destinations where travelers usually don’t go to.
You think Eastern Europe and Central Asia are not worth visiting? Check my blog then
17. Words for your followers and why they should follow you?
If you love backpacking, adventure and exploring over lying at a hotel swimming pool or on the beach – you’ll find inspiration and
encouragement to become an explorer! The award you’ll get – happiness, excitement and fulfillment – when you, for example, look down at the red-white canyons in Turkmenistan, when you’re on top of Machu Picchu Mountain admiring the ancient Inca city or on Poon Hill in Nepal overlooking the Himalayas – those feelings and memories cannot be bought for any money in the world!
18. Words and suggestion about my website www.indiaataglance.com
Great blog promoting amazing sites in India, I especially love the ancient temples. Write also about Lakshadeep Islands! They are like