Social media has given me the opportunity to meet and connect with so many wonderful travel industry professionals all over the world. One such professional that I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with is noted travel photographer, Brendan van Son. His incredible photography has generated over 25 thousand “Likes” for his Facebook page, over 38 thousand followers for his Twitter account, and a fantastic travel blog over at http://www.brendansadventures.com/. Even with all of that success, Brendan van Son is one of the most down-to-earth people in the travel industry. Recently, I caught up with Brendan over Facebook to talk about his first camera, his traveling philosophy, where he has been and where he’s going next.
(photo by: Justin Jensen)
Q. What was your first camera ever, and do you still own/use it?
A. I had a disposable camera when I went on exchange to Japan in middle school 16 years ago. Obviously, I don’t have that camera anymore. I do have the film photos still though. I love looking back at them. Nothing beats seeing your images printed out.
Q. What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve taken a picture of?
A. People. People can get really grumpy when they see a camera around. In Morocco, I had people spit at me or throw rocks at me just for having my camera around my neck. I’ve also taken photos of elephants that have charged me before as well. Another time, in Paraguay, I was tracking a jaguar on foot through some marsh and kept telling myself I could use my monopod as a weapon if I had to protect myself.
Q. Was there ever a moment during your adventures where you thought “Oh my God, I’m going to die here!”?
A. Not really. I’ve been to some dangerous places, but have never really had that “this is the end!” feeling. I’d say that my time in Kinshasa was the worst. I just did not feel comfortable there, I felt really paranoid as well. I guess coming off a hit of malaria in rural DR Congo didn’t help my mood either. I have a lot of faith in people, and feel like someone will always be around to help you get out of a shady situation if you need to.
Q. What are the top 5 places you want to photograph, but haven’t yet?
A. China tops my list and I’m heading that way soon. I really want to photograph what’s left of rural China if I can. I also want to get to Mongolia and photograph the wide open spaces, and the people. I’ve love to go to Bhutan and Nepal as well. Greenland is also high on my list just because I think it’s something completely different. Really, if I haven’t been there yet I want to photograph it.
Q. What is your personal traveling philosophy?
A. To just go and put your trust in the world. I’m a big believer that if you travel with an open-mind and curious eyes, you’ll come away with not only a wider perspective on the world, but a greater personal strength as well. If you let the world teach you, you can become such a wise and patient person. You just need to let the world do its work.
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