Elia Locardi, a well-known travel and landscape photographer, tours the world capturing some of the most majestic and remote places in the world. When we caught up with him, he was traveling by helicopter to take pictures of Australia for the tourism board. In between plane rides, snapping pictures and posting to social media, we asked him to answer a few questions for our readers.
How did you get into travel photography?
I got into photography by accident. I’ve always loved it, but I had a career in post production and was busy making a life around that. My wife and I bought a house and got wrapped up in the day-to-day drain and eventually fell into debt. We felt stuck. So, we sold our house and spent some time reconnecting with nature and traveling. I took a camera on a trip to Italy and felt connected. That’s when photography clicked for me.
You and your wife travel and work without a home. How did you come to this decision?
We call our lifestyle “location-independent.” We came up with the term because it sounds better to tell your parents that you’re location-independent rather than homeless.
In 2012 we were doing so much traveling that when we did return to our home, it just felt like a layover. We were already talking about living and working without a homebase and we finally decided to get rid of everything and live the life we wanted.
I’m sure you’ve taken hundreds of photos over the years, but do you have a favorite?
I do have a favorite. It’s the Sleeping Giants photograph. This was taken in Indonesia on Mount Bromo. This picture wasn’t for a client, it was for me. I wanted to shoot there for a long time. I had this image of the perfect picture that I wanted to get, but I waited until I thought I was a good enough photographer to get it.
It’s not an easy location to get to. You have to do a little climbing to get there. Plus, to get the right light, I was climbing in the dark. The first night I was there, everything went right. There was no moon, the fog was rolling in and the stars were bright – it was magical. I knew I took some great shots, but I actually didn’t look at them for a while because I was too scared to mess them up. That’s when you know you’ve got something good. And I was right; it turned out to be a great shot.
(To understand the technical side of this picture, check out this page on Locardi’s website. It gives you all of the particulars.)
What’s one quality that you possess as a photographer that sets you apart?
I’m patient. I have waited years to release a photo. For example, I went to Japan three years in a row during the Hanatoro Festival, which is when certain shrines and pagodas are lit up, to get a shot of the Osaka Castle with cherry blossoms in full bloom. I finally got the shot I wanted on the third trip and released the photo then.
When you’re out photographing beautiful scenes like the northern lights in Iceland, how do you enjoy the beauty that’s in front of you while still getting the shot you want?
That’s actually something I’ve been working on lately, because you’re right, when you’re trying to get the perfect shot you can take beauty for granted. I’ve found myself cursing sunsets because the light wasn’t just what I wanted, when I should be more appreciative of the beauty that’s in front of me. I am making an effort to enjoy those moments more.
I understand you do some charity work for the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Tell us about it.
A few years ago my friend and filmmaker, Tim Gorski, asked me to help in the visual efforts to save the SE Asian Elephant from extinction. My photographs supported his video, “How I Became an Elephant” The film is about a girl’s journey to save a rare species of elephant, with proceeds going to The Elephant Nature Park where rescued elephants live. The experience was so moving that we’ve made it an annual visit and now host a charity photo tour with most of the proceeds going to the park.
What advice do you have for photographers looking to get into travel photography?
Quality over quantity. Take the time to get your best shot and don’t release it unless it’s something you’re proud of. If you think you can do better, do it.
You are very active on social media, how has it helped you shape your business?
Growing my presence on social media has allowed me to establish my voice in the photography industry as well as maintain a connection with the global community of photographers. In this digital age we live in, using social media correctly can help elevate your profile as a photographer and help build real connections in the industry.