What makes an unforgettable travel photograph
and how is it made? Travel + Leisure asked me and five other
professional photographers to reveal our tricks for capturing
transcendent images that instantly transport the viewer.
Cradled deep in the creases of the majestic Himalaya, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan is veiled in mystery. Owing to strict tourism policies that regulate the number of visitors, the Bhutanese government has successfully safeguarded the country from the mass tourism that has afflicted many of Bhutan’s Asian neighbours, making Bhutan one of the world’s least-traveled countries, and thus, one of the world’s most enigmatic.
I have traveled to Bhutan a number of times over the past decade, and whenever I am there I feel incredibly inspired. It seems as though, somehow, the volume is turned up on my creativity – it’s like I can’t move fast enough to photograph everything I witness and experience. However, it was my first visit to Bhutan in 2008 that I will always remember as one of the most remarkable storytelling experiences of my life.
Bhutan is a true photographer’s fantasy: the natural light is soft and golden, and the prayer-flag-strewn, snow-capped mountain vistas are beyond breathtaking; friendly men and women in traditional Bhutanese costume fill bustling city markets while smiling monks in flowing maroon robes occupy the ancient monasteries that dot the rugged landscape.
I made this photograph of a novice monk late one afternoon at Paro’s Rinpung Dzong (meaning ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’), an imposing centuries-old monastery perched atop a steep hill just outside town. I love this picture for many reasons: the textured walls, the high contrast light, and the breeze captured in the young man’s robe, suspending it impossibly in mid-air. To me this photograph represents freedom, which is exactly the emotion I experience whenever I find myself in the beautiful and mystical “Land of the Thunder Dragon”.