Over to You

Travel and hu­man­i­tar­ian pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­cob James loves scour­ing the world for beau­ti­ful por­traits

NPhoto - - Contents -

Three photo sto­ries packed with bril­liant shots, plus all your rants and raves

I got into pho­tog­ra­phy in my early teens, work­ing for my un­cle in his pho­tog­ra­phy store. As I was spend­ing ev­ery af­ter­noon sell­ing film and pro­cess­ing chem­i­cals, I de­cided that I should prob­a­bly learn how to use a cam­era! How­ever, it wasn’t un­til I be­gan to travel that I truly found my pho­to­graphic call­ing.

I vol­un­teered with a project on the western Thai bor­der, work­ing with mi­grants and refugees, and the ex­pe­ri­ence not only ig­nited my pas­sion for travel pho­tog­ra­phy but also taught me to adopt a sen­si­tive ap­proach when pho­tograph­ing people. Over the last three years I’ve been able to visit won­der­ful coun­tries like In­dia, Myan­mar, Cam­bo­dia, Morocco and China.

When I’m abroad I al­ways try to ditch the tourist trail. You can get stun­ning im­ages in touristy lo­ca­tions, of course, but if you want your pho­to­graphs to stand out you need to find new places. The Taj Ma­hal, Eif­fel tower and Statue of Lib­erty have prob­a­bly been pho­tographed tens of mil­lions of times. Com­pare that to a small vil­lage in the Viet­namese moun­tains, which may only get the oc­ca­sional trav­eller – all your pho­tos will be fresh and unique.

I al­ways try to meet and work with lo­cals when I travel, as

a good in­ter­preter and lo­cal guide is al­most in­dis­pens­able if you want to hunt out amaz­ing lo­ca­tions. While in In­dia last year I trav­elled for three weeks with my now-close friend, Hardik. His knowl­edge meant that I was able to be in the right place at the right time to get the im­ages I en­vi­sioned.

Some of my favourite pho­tos are from that two-month trip to In­dia. Dur­ing my time in ru­ral Ra­jasthan [1] and in the In­dian Hi­malayas in Ladakh, I found wel­com­ing people with dis­tinct cul­tural iden­ti­ties – a por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream! So I con­cen­trated on cap­tur­ing people [2]. All the por­traits I took were lit with a sin­gle flash (in the hands of my trusty fixer Hardik) to add some more depth and shape to the sub­jects’ faces.

I carry two Nikon D7000s, paired with an al­most ex­clu­sively prime lens set-up. That may seem un­usual, but means I am able to shoot more eas­ily in low-light sit­u­a­tions

[3]. The fi­nal pieces of gear that I think are es­sen­tial are my Nikon SB700 flash and Las­to­lite Ezy­box. I much pre­fer to shoot in nat­u­ral light, but when the weather gods don’t com­ply I love to have the con­trol over light­ing so that I can still pro­duce dra­matic por­traits. I find that keep­ing my cam­era in aper­turepri­or­ity mode al­lows me to re­act to ac­tion much more quickly than shoot­ing fully man­ual.

I never stop mak­ing new travel plans. Next year I’m mov­ing to Ger­many, so I’m plan­ning to ex­plore the Czech Repub­lic, Ro­ma­nia and Is­rael. I’d also love to travel through Africa and ex­plore its most re­mote places.

01 La­mayuru, ladakh Nikon D7000, Tok­ina 11-16mm f/2.8, 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO100

02Ra­jasthan women Nikon D7000, Tok­ina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO800

03 Bundi smoker Nikon D7000, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens, 1/60 sec, f/2.5, ISO100

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