In March 2016 I will be departing with students and staff from the Valley Park school to Vietnam, along with members of the True Adventure team. I honestly can't wait! It's the chance for me to experience new things, eat new food and make new friends. I am also very excited as I’ll be gaining knowledge about many aspects of travel photography (which is my dream job)
We will set off from Heathrow on Thursday morning and arrive at Noi Bai International Airport at 05:15 on Friday. Flying is never the best part unless you have a private jet! But it's totally worth it. Once there we will be briefed on our upcoming trek and project site. We will then have a free day to explore Hanoi, something I’m very excited for as I’m sure the photographic potential will be great. I’ve also heard that in certain markets you can get a three piece suit made for around 100 dollars which is truly amazing value.
We will then travel to the Mai Chau district to start the trekking phase of our journey. I'm told the scenery will be filled with rice fields and still houses, the people from the area are predominantly 'White Thai' whom are well renowned for their hospitality. I am also thrilled due to the fact this is a nature reserve, so the landscape should consist of rice fields, which have a very beautiful aesthetic! Again this sounds excellent for photographs and team building skills.
Next we'll trek into our project site where I believe we will be helping the community by building brick ovens and distributing small gifts to local children. Here we will meet more 'Thai' people whom i'm told are exceedingly friendly. We will work in the village for a number of days, getting to know the people as we help them out. From previous experience this has been a big highlight of the trip.
After we have completed our project work we will be transferring back to Hanoi where we have the option to explore the famous Ha Long bay, this is something I really hope we do as it will be a once in a life time experience and will be perfect for capturing landscapes / seascapes. Something I find very appealing about Halong bay is the thousands of Karst (small mountainous islands) which make for both stunning visual photographs and a fresh ground breaking aesthetic to my work. Another option we have is to take a boat tour to one of the floating markets. Where there are people who have never set foot on land. This will be a massive cultural difference; I can almost in vision how the photographs would look if we went.
I can honestly say that Vietnam looks exceeding rich in its culture, spirit and scenery. I’m sure that it will be an unforgettable trip for all the right reasons. At the time of writing this I still have a fair amount of preparation to do! For example next week I am going to Kent to meet with the parents of the students and to learn a little more about the expedition itinerary. I also still need to go to my local surgery to receive my prescription of malarone (malaria tablets) and double check that my vaccinations from Nepal don’t need any boosters.
Canon 550D body shoots (18 megapixels, not the largest amount compared to some of the camera giants but it has always delivered clear and sharp photographs)
24-105mm 4:0 USM Prime lens (This lens delivers a sharpness pared with a great focal range that I haven’t yet seen anywhere else. I will predominantly be using this for portraiture)
10-20mm 3:5 Sigma lens (An excellent lens for capturing large objects, group photographs and architecture. I will be mostly using this lens for group and architecture shots)
50mm 1:4 USM lens (A superb lens for shooting in low light conditions and for bringing very soft focusing to the photographs that it captures. I will predominantly be using this at night time to capture my surroundings and also the stars)
A lens I would absolutely love to take on this expedition is the canon 70-200 2.8 USM lens (As it provides a great zoom that can be useful for many things while still maintaining a very wide aperture. It’s because this lens has such effective optics that I can’t quite afford it yet, so I’ll have to wait until I’m a little better known before I can afford it.) Update: In the end I was able to take this stunning lens with me.
I may also bring my new Canon speedlite 600ex-rt flash (For portraiture and for use in low light situations)
Another thing I am trying to find out is whether we will in fact be able to ride the midnight train! A train that runs all along the coast of Vietnam!! I can also see that having many opportunities to capture moments of a different culture and reality.
As a serious lover of food, I am very excited to sample the many dishes that Vietnam has to offer! From people I have asked who have tried various meals in Vietnam the food sounds amazing. I have been advised to try and have a fresh pineapple, as someone i know has compared it to a little slice of heaven.
Although I'v only been studying photography for a grand total of five years. I have found that shooting portraits is one of my favorite subjects to photograph as people are all so different while being so similar! we go through so many complex emotions in a day that the photographic opportunities are virtually limitless!
To say that I am thrilled for this trip is an understatement! There are so many aspects that I'm excited for I could fill a book and hopefully when I return i'll have enough photographs to do just that. I should hopefully have quite a few new photographs to add to my portfolio and website. I believe it's this elation about the photographic process that fuels every photographer out there, it always keeps us hungry for more and is what I feel gives me a reason to get up and GO!