We’ve partnered with our friends at global photography site Feature Shoot to spotlight some of the most compelling images in the Offset collection. This week highlights Offset photographers who are world travelers.
Professional travel photographers spend their lives on the go, but if they’re lucky, there will be unforgettable corners of the world that linger in their memories long after they have departed. We asked seven extraordinary Offset travel photographers to share stories of the most memorable places they’ve been to, and they came back with tales of human resilience, the majestic wild, and ancient architecture. At the core of each lies the glittering threads of compassion, empathy, and curiosity that drive these artists to pursue and capture visions that most of us see only in dreams.
Himanshu Khagta: The most memorable place I have photographed would be Spiti, a high-altitude region in the western himalayas of India that borders with Tibet. Spiti is known for its high, barren mountains, Buddhist monasteries, and snow leopards. Despite being in India, it is one of the least populated places (in the region). It has 1,000-year-old monasteries and an abundance of wildlife.
It is open for the tourists for six months and is landlocked in the winter months due to snowfall in many approach points. The temperature dips down to -28 degrees Celsius (-18 F) in the winter months, and people stay indoors in their warm houses made of mud. The architecture is similar to that of houses in Tibet and Ladakh. There is no electricity or running water in the colder months. People live like their ancestors.
Enchanted by the beauty and harsh living conditions, I decided to photograph the life of its people throughout the year. I stayed in Spiti for six months, lived like the locals and documented their lives through pictures. I was surprised to see the happiest people, in the most inhospitable weather conditions and very little government support, living without any complaints. Staying back for winters made me experience the beautiful landscape covered with pure white snow that stayed there until the month of May.
Gary Chapman: I’ve seen breathtaking scenery around the world, but the most memorable moments and photos for me are the stories of the people I leave behind. Meet Olivia (above).
It is 105 degrees outside and just a little cooler inside the delivery room of a rural clinic in remote Ghana. As natural light filters through a paned-glass window, Olivia lifts the newborn infant with one hand onto a white metal scale. The baby boy, freshly out of the womb, cries out when his skin contacts the cold metal. A moment later, Olivia gently wraps the baby, burrito style, in a clean blanket and his crying immediately stops — the newborn once again feels warm, cocooned, and safe.
Olivia has delivered more than 1,600 babies in the last ten years in the sparsely equipped clinic that has no electricity or water, but is an oasis for the women seeking her help. Without this clinic, the closest medical assistance would be 30 miles away, along a potholed, dusty, dirt road.
“Since I came here I have never lost a baby. I know God has helped me a lot,” says Olivia. “I enjoy working with the poor in the villages because I want to save lives. The challenges are so many. We have bad roads. We don’t have lights.” But she adds, “My passion is delivering babies and taking care of pregnant women. I become happy when I deliver a baby safely, without losing the child.”
Julien McRoberts: My favorite location was at a magnificent abandoned hacienda in Mexico for a shoot for a clothing line. It took quite a while to get to the location, and after hours on the road, we came around the bend off the dirt road to a town frozen in time. You half-expected to see the ghosts of Pancho Villa and his men riding through town. The hacienda was at one time considered the most important and historic hacienda in all of Mexico. After the revolution, it fell into disrepair and became abandoned.
My jaw dropped when we were allowed in by the caretaker; the faded beauty of it was staggering. It was my ideal kind of shoot as I love abandoned structures, shooting product lines, and any excuse to go to Mexico.
Elijah Solomon Hurwitz: The area surrounding Mount Harmukh in the lower Himalayan mountains of Kashmir Valley is probably the most memorable place I’ve photographed. As is often the case, the greater the struggle, the greater the remembrance, and after 30-plus hours of overnight buses, harrowing drives on mountain roads, and several miles of high-altitude trekking, I can almost still smell the campfires and curry (and myself, after a few days without a shower) outside my tent.
The pastoral scenery of Gujjar nomad families who had migrated with their livestock to cooler alpine elevations during India’s hot summer months contrasted with heavily armed Indian soldiers patrolling for militants and the beautiful Mount Harmukh, a 17,000-foot peak where Hindus believe Lord Shiva resides.
Marianna Jamadi: Varanasi, India will forever be seared into my bones both in a visual and emotional sense. As a place for Hindu pilgrimage, it is a city that is hectic, crowded, beautiful, and rich in color and activity. Directly on the Ganges River, it also serves as a site for body cremation as a final passage to enlightenment. There is a heightened sense of spirituality, which is mixed with constant chaos, and my camera couldn’t have been more happy.
Lauryn Ishak: I’d have to say the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I could spend days, if not weeks, just shooting in the area. I spent two days photographing the lagoon and the beach across, and in those two days, every angle you turn to manages to look fresh and different with the constantly changing light and iceberg positions.
I remember that on day one, small ice chunks had washed up onto the shore and made the beach look like it was peppered in shiny, glittering stones. When I came back on day two, they were gone and were replaced by “small” majestic icebergs. Shooting there was a challenge; the wind was howling, it was freezing, and no matter how heavy of a tripod you had with sandbags to keep it steady, it was hard to keep still when doing long exposures. It was all worth it, though — it’s an otherworldly place when you have the luxury of time to wander.
Shanna Baker: After a long day of draining travel on pocked and twisted roads, I arrived at my hotel in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka, and wandered out onto the back patio for a quick break. When I looked down at the tawny river below, I gasped at the sight of dozens of young elephants playing in the water. They lolled around on their backs, splashed, wriggled their trunks around one another, and sprayed themselves with impressive fountains from their trunks. The bigger ones would roll the babies around in the water, and every so often a little one trumpeted. Amazing.
At night, hundreds of thousands of bats filled the sky above where the elephants had played, all flapping with purpose northward up the river valley. They kept coming, chockablock in the sky, for what seemed like hours. I’ve never seen anything else like it.
Offset artists are visual storytellers with a deep passion for their craft. Images in the Offset collection are gathered from world-class and award-winning assignment photographers, illustrators, and agencies, with a focus on unique content with narrative, authentic, and sophisticated qualities.
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