Way back last April I was contacted by Shakila Rajendra and Delia Jinivon, Editors at Marie Claire in Malaysia, about being profiled in their monthly ‘MC Men’ feature. The article, ‘Shutter Bug’ was published in their August 2015 issue.
Scott A. Woodward has captured some of the most amazing
travel images and is enamoured with Asia.
He tells us about his passion.
You’ve made yourself quite known in Asia and all over the world for your skills in photography. Can you take us back to where it first began?
I grew up in a house filled with photography; hanging on the walls of my childhood home in Fonthill, Ontario, Canada are images my father has taken, himself an avid and accomplished amateur photographer. It was my father who taught me about photography when I was a young boy: how to operate a manual camera, skillfully interpret light and imaginatively compose an image. But more importantly, my dad instilled in me a sense of curiosity and adventure; these are the traits that have truly made me a photographer.
I have lived in Asia for nearly 19 years now, originally moving to Singapore to take a job in marketing but it was a new year’s resolution more than 11 years ago that changed my life, and set me on an exciting path as a professional photographer.
On December 26, 2004, the Asian tsunami decimated communities across the continent, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. This day was also my 30th birthday.
The events of that fateful day, combined with my milestone birthday, caused me to reflect on my life and take a leap of faith. I decided then to resign from my job in order to pursue my photography dream full time. I’ve never looked back.
Asia has been your home for some time now. In what way has the Asian culture influenced your photography?
I moved to Asia when I was 21 — nearly half my life ago — and I have lived here ever since. I absolutely consider Asia to be my home. It is also here that I discovered my passion for photography. I remember how I felt the very first time I came to Asia — the sights, the sounds, the smells. It was like someone had taken my life and turned up the volume! I am constantly reminded of the diversity of this continent: technicolour India, minimalist Japan, ancient Cambodia, rugged Nepal, traditional Myanmar, and on and on. I’m inspired to capture this and document this and preserve this through my work.
If you had an opportunity to photograph a celebrity, who would it be and why?
Since I consider myself primarily a photographer of people, I find this to be a very exciting, yet extremely difficult question to answer. I think it would have to be Ewan McGregor. We share a common passion for motorcycles and adventure. And ever since I watched his documentary, “Long Way Round”, I can’t help but think that he’d be a great person to meet and spend time with and an absolutely fantastic subject to photograph. If I am permitted to choose a celebrity from the past, it would be Elvis Presley (circa late-1950s and early-1960s). He is undoubtedly the founder of modern rock n’ roll and his influence on music — which is another passion in my life — cannot be understated.
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date in your photography career?
More than eight years ago I had a chance encounter with a documentary filmmaker named Mike Rogers and his partner and producer, Meghan Shea. We talked about our respective businesses and experiences, and we quickly learned that we share a lot in common, both creatively and philosophically. We became fast friends, and shortly after, Mike and Meghan invited me to join them on a documentary film shoot to Bhutan.
For as long as I can remember, I’d fantasized about visiting the remote and enigmatic Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Exploring and shooting Bhutan was indeed my dream assignment come true. And the result was the most amazing travel and photography experience of my entire life. One of my photographs — of a group of young novice monks happily careening down a steep hill on their way to dinner at their Thimphu monastery — ended up gracing the glossy pages of National Geographic Magazine a few months later. It remains my proudest moment, and endures as the biggest personal achievement of my photographic career.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to get a shot?
Last year my crew and I spent a few weeks in Bhutan while on assignment for Nikon. Part of our shoot involved a week-long Himalayan trek up to 4,500m. Near the end of our journey, we spent a very long night camping in a snowstorm at Jimi Langtso Lake at 3,880m. We awoke the next morning to so much snow that our horses could continue any further into the trek, so we were forced to turn around and descend back down the mountain. However, the photographs I was able to make that morning, as the sun came up and revealed the pristine snow capped Himalayas surrounding us and the frozen lake beside us, were among the best I created throughout the entire adventure.
What’s on your bucket list?
I am absolutely consumed by the thought of traveling to North Korea. There is no place on earth that I’d rather visit and photograph than the infamous Hermit Kingdom.
I am fascinated by it and would love to experience the last frontier of the Cold War and one of the world’s most enigmatic nations. I’ve been trying to visit the DPRK for more than six years, but unfortunately, I have been unable to find a tour company that will take me because I am a professional photographer. I’ve been in discussions since January with a US-based tour operator, and I am hopeful we can arrange for a visit later this year. I am determined though; I will visit DPRK someday — it is just a matter of time.