Over to You
Travel and humanitarian photographer Jacob James loves scouring the world for beautiful portraits
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  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 . 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
. 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