Years ago Kasia and I drove along a rural road in a remote part of the United States. We were on the way to our pre-planned shooting location and were already running late to catch the first morning light.
We noticed an old man with a cane walking along with his herd of sheep. Even though I got just a glance while we were passing, his gentle but wrinkled face immediately caught our attention. His herd of sheep surrounded him but all stayed a safe distance from their caretaker. The entire scene was blanketed in soft fog, intense enough to separate the man and his animals from the surroundings. It was the perfect opportunity for an interesting human encounter and an unusual visual reportage.
Unfortunately, because I was fixated on my plan I decided not to stop. We eventually arrived at our destination and…it was a total failure. Not only did the place disappoint but the weather conditions turned against us. I will never forget the old man with his sheep walking on the side of the road. Even today I regret that I didn’t stop and connect with this man.
This situation, along with a few others, taught me one of the most important lessons on travel photography. Even if you have plans, don’t get stuck on them. Opportunities for seeing are everywhere and when you see something, connect and capture an image!
Since then, we have made plans but have no problem changing them on the fly. If we see a scene worth interacting with, we stop and engage. In fact, this approach has allowed us to get many of our favourite images.
It was the case on our recent trip to the Canadian Rockies.
We spent one night in a motel near Lake Louise. Our plan was to wake up early and photograph the sunrise at this stunning location. However, when we arrived, clouds and fog blanketed the mountains so we decided to walk around and explore the frozen lake. After a few minutes we noticed a young man and his mother arrive at the ice rink. The young man started practising hockey. With the huge snow-covered mountain and frozen lake as a backdrop his red uniform stood out, creating an amazing scene. We approached them and struck up a conversation, which led us to the images below. If the weather had been different we would be sharing with you yet another photograph of a sunrise over Lake Louise. We are glad it didn’t so we could have this encounter.
The next day while driving north on the stunning road from Lake Louise to Jasper we met a Japanese man, Nori. He was taking part in the 2015 Expedition – Americas’ Vertical Challenge – Alaska to Argentina. We were travelling in a warm car in -25˚C temperatures and Nori was walking alone carrying everything he needed with him. We don’t know what you think, but we were impressed. The backdrop of the Canadian Rockies created amazing visuals in the story of man of such strong will and character.
All images were captured with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 50-140mm F2.8, XF 14mm F2.8 and Fuji X100S.
2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.