The true value of travel photography, I believe, lies more in giving the viewer access to environments, communities, and cultures that would otherwise stay hidden from the eyes of many, rather than in proposing endless variations on the same, old clichés. The real travel photographer, unlike the tourist, works hard to capture images that are often not in plain sight.
My guest for this episode of the podcast, Robert van Koesveld, is a passionate travel photographer from Australia who has a deep knowledge of the culture and traditions of the geikos and maikos of Kyoto. By striving to really getting to know those women and developing an intimate connection with them, he has managed to capture some sublime images that go beyond the surface to reveal their inner world.
We discussed at length about what is necessary to approach those communities and how much work and patience it took Robert to produce the images that are contained in his beautiful book, Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto. We also briefly talked about that other place that is reputed to be quite inaccessible by many, the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Robert defines himself as a travel and cultural photographer and this is what he has to say about himself:
My camera and I are attracted to the ‘spirit’ of places and to people with ‘presence’. This requires warm curiosity and engagement with places and people so that my images can reflect the depth of the spirit and the openness of their presence. Sometimes the elements combine, such as when the disciplined beauty of old Kyoto is portrayed in the artistry of a mature geiko (geisha).
As a full time travel and cultural photographer I am often observing how individuals and communities find ways to manage the fascinating intersections of past and present. There can be a freshness about the way some people express their centuries-old lineage while living in a changing world. When traveling in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America or Antarctica, I can see this is a challenge for village farmers, traditional nomads, city folk, penguins and polar bears. This theme can provide inspiration for conversations and photography that is about more than costume and cultural difference.
Since setting aside my long career as a psychotherapist, I have enjoyed these photographic opportunities that have led to other activities such as: publishing photo books, leading photo expeditions, making blogs and websites.
Duration 33m 08s.
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Music for this episode: “Zanzibar” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
- Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto
- Bhutan Heartland: Travels in the Land of the Thunder Dragon