It’s not uncommon to see people quit their corporate jobs to travel the world; but for one man in particular, he decided to turn his passion into a profession. Based out of Toronto, Andrew Pateras is a full time professional travel and event photographer. I discovered Andrew through the good peeps at G Adventures and immediately fell in love with his work. I was so inspired by some of his pieces, I had to introduce you to him.
I sat down with Andrew to get to know the man behind the lens, (and was delighted to discover that our very own Flightie Angela Taousanis from our Carlton location handles a lot of his travel bookings):
1. How long have you been a photographer for and what motivated you to first pick up a camera?
I went pro about four years ago. I worked in sales in the corporate world for many years, including a year as North American sales manager with GAP Adventures. As much as I enjoyed the fast paced life in sales, something was missing. As a hobbyist photographer for many years, I had always dreamed of turning my passion into my profession. I was able to turn that dream into a reality when a high end wedding studio in Toronto “Boston Avenue Photo Co.” gave me my start. From there, I used the skills I had acquired in relationship building and sales to expand my business. Voila! I am a world travel photographer!
2. Who are some of YOUR favourite photographers and why?
This is an easy question. My favorite photographer is Steve McCurry. You will definitely know his most famous image “Afghan Girl” that made the cover of National Geographic in 1984. My favorite subject matter to photograph is people, so I try to capture emotion in a lot of my images as Steve did in that famous shot.
3. You say that “photojournalism is the art of capturing one single moment and one single emotion”. How challenging is it to capture those right moments?
It is all about patience and respect. A lot of the images that I capture, especially the more exotic ones, are taken in developing countries. Their cultural beliefs are very different than ours and so are their laws. When you stick a camera in someone’s face, the first thing they do is either smile or give you the death stare. It is a delicate balance to capture real emotion after asking permission to take someone’s photograph. In my opinion, that is the real talent.
4. What are your essential camera gear items on the road?
Since I travel for quite extensive periods (up to 4 months at once), I like to travel as light as possible. This is tough because I am carrying a lot of glass around! This time around I have my professional camera body and five lenses. I also carry about 200 gigabytes of memory cards, a terabyte hard drive (for backup) and a small laptop computer to update my website and blog on the fly. I also like to have images of myself to remember the places I have been, so I carry a small point and shoot camera so I can hand it off to people to take my picture. My camera bag alone weighs about 17 kilograms!
5. You’ve captured everything from people, to landscapes; so if we had to make you chose, what’s your favourite thing to shoot?
I briefly mentioned before that my favorite subject matter is people. The reason I travel to the off the beaten path areas are to capture people in their daily lives. Even in the most impoverished developing countries, there are areas where people are used to seeing tourists. I try to get away from that to capture real expressions and emotion. The “People of the World” section of my website is definitely my favorite, and there is going to be a huge influx of new images after this current trip.
6. You’ve been to over 34 countries (impressive!), which place was the most memorable and why?
Actually after this expedition the list is up to 43! There are actually two that affected me most. The first was Japan during the Earthquake only about a month ago. I had been to Tokyo before but this time I was affected for obvious reasons. I was right in the middle of one of the world’s greatest catastrophes. My emotional distress was obvious and you could even hear it in my voice during my many TV and radio interviews from Tokyo. The Japanese people were virtually unaffected. They had such strong spirit and resolve, I was in awe.
The second most memorable was my 2 months through Africa last year. The people were some of the warmest and friendliest I have encountered in all of my travels. They are also some of the most impoverished, yet I have never encountered people that were so full of joy. That trip was a real eye opener on what is really important in life.
7. Which place surprised you the most?
Dubai. I expected very little from what I heard was just a “big city”. The architecture was some of the most impressive that I have ever seen, with a money is no object mentality. It is also a place I did not expect to have such diverse culture, delicious food and vibrant nightlife. I loved it so much that I fly with Emirates almost exclusively and I use Dubai as my international hub for travel so I have an excuse to go back time and again.
8. Aside from your camera, what things can’t you live without on the road?
Bottled water! Tap water is the enemy in many of the places I travel to, so I even brush my teeth with bottled water. Because of my hectic travel schedule, even being sick for one day can throw my whole trip off. My time in india is a great example of that. I was out of commission for 2 days because of a resealed bottle of water. Ice cream is near the top of my list as well!
9. Where are you off to next?
Right now I am in Tel Aviv and about to head to Jerusalem for Easter weekend. I am expecting some amazing new images from these next few days. I also have 3 destination weddings booked for this summer and fall. I am heading to Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. My goal is to photograph 100 countries by the time I am 40. It is an aggressive target, even for a seasoned traveler like me.
10. What is the #1 tip you would offer a budding photographer who is about to hit the road?
Watch your background. Don’t focus just on your subject, make sure the image is perfect when you take it. If you see a tourist in a Speedo behind your wife when you download the image back at home, there is no chance to take it over!
Andrew has been fortunate enough to travel to over 34 countries in search of adventure and authentic cultural experiences. I highly recommend you follow his adventures and check out his blog to see where he’s off to next. And for the record Andrew, I think your target of hitting 100 countries is definitely doable (especially with Angela on your side!)