I often wonder what do people think about me when they see the title ‘Travel Photographer’ next to my name. People tend to think I’ve been running this jetset kind of life (sometimes it is true), living on suitcases (sometimes it takes me more than a week to unpack, just because I’m so busy with other things) or working for National Geographic (not yet). I must admit I had the same thoughts when I saw these two words next to Tracy Zhang‘s name.
Tracy commented on one of my posts few weeks ago, when I was featured in Dabble Magazine, and I got curious about her. I checked out her beautiful website and was so impressed by the number of places she has visited and shot. Some of them are on my ‘to-go’ list as well; Shanghai or Cuba to name a few. The more I looked into her website and blog, the more I got curious. And then I realized she is only 21! What a great portfolio for such a young age. I can’t even start to imagine where she few years from now! I can only say ‘World, Hold On!’ and see what Tracy has to offer.
Tracy is currently Traveling in North Europe. I managed to get hold of her to share some of her information and photographs while she was sitting in a cozy coffee-bar in Copenhagen on the canal. (Yes, can be the life of a Travel photographer). I’m really excited to feature Tracy today and I hope you enjoy same as I did.
Where are you from? I was born in Beijing China and lived there for 11 years before moving to Vancouver Canada with my parents. Sometimes I tell people I’m from Vancouver and other times I say I’m from Beijing. I have a Canadian passport but my roots are in Asia. Both places are unique and beautiful in their own right, and I consider both home.
Where did you study photography? I didn’t study photography in college or university. When I was in high school, I took a film photography course because I needed an Arts credit to graduate and I had heard that the teacher who taught the class gave very little homework. But that course was the pivotal point for me. Through it, I learned to develop my own negatives and positives, and became really interested in photography. I have been completely self-taught since.
What made you want to learn it? At the time, the film photography course at my school was the last one my high school ever taught, everything shifted to digital photography the year after. I took the course on a whim because I thought it would be an easy class, but I became hooked on photography because I loved being in the dark room. I used to spend hours in there, hunched over the enlarger and standing over the chemical trays. I was fascinated by the way the photographs would appear, almost out of nowhere, on the photo paper.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you do? I’ve always wanted to work in advertising and make creative and memorable ads, the kind they play in the Super Bowl and gets people talking. Well, I might still have time to change careers!
Where do you get your inspiration from? The places I travel to inspire me. Every destination is different, with its own mix of culture, food, and people. I try to open up all my senses to really soak up the essence of every place and incorporate that into my photographs.
How do you usually approach a new project? My projects are usually location-based; I start with my own emotions and thoughts toward the place. This usually happens at my hotel room or in a local coffee shop. I need solitude for this. I think about how I feel about my destination, usually writing a few words down to remind myself. These words then become the central theme of that project and my starting point.
What are you working on right now? Prior to this year, I was still shooting portraits and fashion. Since I transitioned into travel photography exclusively only earlier this year, I’m working on getting more of my travel photography work seen, which involves traveling a lot and then finding time in between to edit my work and get it out to editors. I just spent a month traveling through China and I’m making my way through Scandinavia right now. I’ll be working on getting more work from these trips out to publications in the coming months.
Window or Aisle? Window, always. You never know what might be out there.