Pho­tog­ra­pher Han­nah Reyes on the thrills of be­ing a Nat Geo Young Ex­plorer

The art of pho­tograph­ing the beau­ti­ful, the crude, and the strange Han­nah Reyes, 24, Travel pho­tog­ra­pher


Grew up in: Manila, Philip­pines. Cur­rently: A Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Young Ex­plorer. Age: 24. On

ap­ply­ing for Nat Geo: “It was a lot of hard work that took time: I re­searched, wrote, brain­stormed, and edited, then edited some more. I asked peo­ple I trusted to look at my ap­pli­ca­tion and ab­stract, and took con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. It took months to fin­ish. I made sure that I chose a sub­ject I re­ally cared about so that should I not get the grant, I’d still have in­for­ma­tion for a project that I re­ally wanted to pur­sue.” On mov­ing to Ph­nom Penh: “I used to be fix­ated with the idea that I could grow where I’m planted, but to­day, I take more pride in telling ev­ery­one that my roots are in our is­lands. (De­spite) all the chal­lenges, I’m glad I moved—there’s so much I’m learn­ing here, and it’s been a great ride.” In­ter­est­ing peo­ple

she’s met: “The leg­endary tat­too artist Fang Od, a trans­gen­dered Aeta named Alv­ina (for­merly Alvin) who is one of the first Ae­tas to come out, some cor­rupt tribal lead­ers, and a child who swore that she saw a young girl en­ter my body and then leave.” On doc­u­men­tary: “I’ve seen some things, and this makes me re­al­ize how lit­tle I know and how much more I want to ex­plore. On some days, it’s ex­haust­ing; on some days, work is thrilling; on some days, it’s frus­trat­ing. And ev­ery day, I feel like I’m just be­gin­ning, that there’s so much I still want to learn. I can­not ex­plain how mov­ing it is to have work that takes me out­side of my­self and to things much big­ger than what I know, and lets me ask ques­tions I oth­er­wise would not even

think of ask­ing.” Ad­vice for as­pir­ing travel pho­tog­ra­phers: “Keep ask­ing

ques­tions. Be gen­tle.”

In her se­riesThe Steppe, Han­nah cap­tures in­ti­mate pho­tos of in­hab­i­tants of the grass­lands, in­clud­ing one of a man keep­ing warm un­der blan­kets, and a child snug­gling be­tween Mon­go­lian rugs. Street artists dressed as a clown and Charlie Chap­lin, pho­tographed in Cal­cutta, In­dia.

Han­nah has been pub­lishedin Lonely Planet, The New York Times, Time, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, The Wall Street Jour­nal, and The Guardian, and has been ex­hib­ited in Manila, Aal­borg, and Copen­hagen. While work­ing on her projectIn­dige­nous Tran­si­tions, Han­nah formed a great bond with Bianca Natola, who han­dled the video as­sets for the ex­pe­di­tion. “I loved ev­ery minute with her, and I’m proud of my­self for rec­og­niz­ing that she would be a great part­ner for

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