Conversations with Drew Hopper

    • Tell us about how you got into photography.
      Well, my photography journey began at the age of 18 after receiving my first DSLR camera for my birthday. I had no idea that it was possible to make a career out of photography; I was just intrigued to document the places I adventured around my hometown on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. I spent the next few years heading out and shooting the lush rainforests and deserted coastlines, always finding something new to capture. This inspired me to pursue my photography by enrolling in a diploma course in digital photography. I spent 2 years and after that I walked away with 2 diplomas in advanced digital photography. This definitely gave me insights into the world of professional photography, giving me a better understanding of the business side of things. After a while I decided I wanted to explore other parts of the world so my girlfriend and myself booked tickets to Southeast Asia – this is when my love for travel photography was born. We spent 3 months backpacking throughout Asia and documenting our trip. When we arrived back home in Australia I realized that this was the path I wanted to pursue so I continued to head back and forth discovering new destinations. Still to this day I feel as inspired and curious as ever, always chasing the light with endless wanderlust.
Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

    • You recently traveled to Asia on a photo assignment. How would you describe your experience in Asia as a photographer?
      Asia is an incredible continent for photography. There’s really something for everyone. What inspired me to visit Asia were the different cultures, it being so culturally rich and diverse. I had always loved the great outdoors and shooting landscapes, but Asia offered much more than that. I began to interact with the local people, focusing on more documentary photography that encapsulated my experiences and shared a moment not only with my audience, but also with my subjects met along the journey. Traveling throughout Asia has taught me a lot, it’s given me a new vision but also made me more appreciative of life in the western world – I feel it has been the greatest gift I’ve received to date.
    • What were some major challenges you had during your trip to Asia?
      There are many challenges I faced on the road as a travel photographer working in a foreign land. For me, the most challenging is always the language barrier when trying to communicate with the local people. Fortunately, it’s possible to work around this barrier with the assistance of a local translator or location fixer. Another common challenge I’m regularly faced with is tight schedules when commuting between locations. Unlike the western world a lot of the transportation is on ‘Asia Time’, sometimes not showing up at all. It pays to be prepared for these times by booking well in advance.Another challenge I’ve dealt with and other photographers would also face is the competitiveness in the photography industry. I find originality one of the toughest challenges I’ve faced as a travel photographer. I see many photographers go about this with the wrong attitude. They follow the ‘trends’ and copy the work of other successful photographers with the belief it will make them successful. We’ve all done it whether we want to admit it or not, but since then I’ve learned it’s important to follow my own vision rather than mimicking someone else’s. Some of the best advice I was given was from another travel photographer who said, “Don’t show me how things are. Show me how YOU see things!” Once I heard this the switch clicked in my mind. Photography should never feel forced, pressured to recreate an image you’ve seen by another photographer.
Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

    • Many of your pictures are candid, could you tell us one of your favorite photographed moments?
      Yes, I prefer the candid approach, as it feels more natural to catch people off-guard. When you photograph people when they least expect it, it can be very rewarding for some nice expressions. I document daily life when I’m wandering the streets so I’m always trying my best to be as inconspicuous as humanly possible. One of my favorite moments was walking up and down the River Ganges in Varanasi, India. I’d head out early every morning and photograph the many morning rituals being performed in the river. It’s possible to grab these candid moments as people are so consumed in their rituals that they don’t even notice you. It’s about becoming one with the people, moving freely and lightly without disturbing anyone. It takes a lot of practice, but in my opinion, it gives the best photographic results.
    • As a travel photographer, is there a struggle between simply enjoying the moment and capturing that perfect shot? If so, how do you find a balance?
      Absolutely! There are times when I forget to stop and appreciate the moment because I’m so immersed in nailing the perfect shot. I was a shocker when I first started, I would go out with my eye pretty much glued to the camera viewfinder. Since focusing on more documentary photography I have learned that it’s important to slow down, pre-visualise the moments before they unfold and take it all into best telling the narrative/story. The best balance I’ve found is to make photography secondary from your travel. I always carry a camera with me when I’m out but sometimes I don’t take a single photo. The perfect balance for me is 50/50 between living in the moment and actually capturing it.
    • Let’s talk about gear. What do usually shoot with? Why?
      I’m currently using Canon DSLR cameras with an array of zooms and prime lenses. My go-to camera for travel is the Canon 6D with the 16-35mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens. I use this lens for most of my landscape work as well as street photography at 35mm (as this focal length I believe is true to what our eye sees). When I want to take the load off I’ll head out with just my Fujifilm X100S, which is compact and light. This allows me to move freely and be more inconspicuous, which is fantastic for street and candid photography. I always travel with a tripod, but this rarely gets used. I only use it when shooting landscapes in low light or when I need to achieve a long exposure for landscapes, cityscapes etc. Another great piece of kit is my smartphone; I use this for taking snapshots as well as booking accommodation, transport and other online activities.
Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

Photo Credits: Drew Hopper

  • You manage to capture emotions with all of your photographs. How do you do it?
    The key for capturing emotion is by being in the right place at the right time, whether it’s a landscape or portrait, it pays to be there when the moment unfolds. By being inconspicuous I’m able to get in amongst the action, which is usually when the emotion comes out. Also, working with a light footprint and respecting people is essential if you want to interact with your subjects. Once people have your trust than their emotions will change, they’ll feel at ease with your presence, therefore giving you greater opportunity to interact and capture those emotion-packed pictures.
  • What are 5 things you wished you knew when you first began travel photography?– Social media is a huge part of travel photography these days. I sometimes wish I got in earlier with social media as an influencer to gain access to certain tourism boards.
    – Break away from your comfort zone. I’m quite the introvert when it comes to interacting with new people, so that’s been a hurdle I face on a day-to-day basis. I suppose I wish I knew how to interact with people from an earlier stage in my travel photographer career, cause I have met so many amazing people with incredible stories but never knew how to approach the topic to document these stories.
    – Downsize on baggage weight. The importance of traveling with less gear. It’s true less is more. My first trip really killed my back. Fortunately, I understand my essentials and leave the rest back at home or in the hotel room. It pays to pack light!
    – Writing things down in a diary. I’m still guilty at times for losing track of things, however, over the years I’ve realized how important it is to be organized and prepared for anything that travel throws at me. There’s really nothing more stressful than a head full of information. I find it useful removing that information from my head and writing it down on paper – it frees up space for valuable creativity.
    – Spend less money. I could have traveled further and longer if I had of kept a tight budget. I realize now that money is best spent on travel and not accessories.
  • Finally, what inspires your art?
    There are a number of things that inspire my photography. Travel itself is definitely inspiring. Visiting new and exotic locations sure gets my senses tingly with creativity. I also find inspiration in music, films, and other art forms. I believe just living my life inspires me to push my boundaries and I usually come up with something fresh from day-to-day life.
Parallels and Meridians

About the Author

By barsha.r / Administrator

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on Dec 01, 2016

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One response to “Conversations with Drew Hopper”

  1. Gerrilyn says:

    That’s a smart way of lokniog at the world.

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