I met Teresa while we were both studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary and quickly came to enjoy both her adventurous company and her quick-witted, observant photography. Though Teresa comes from a small town in the Southwest of Germany, she has traveled extensively around the world and now studying and living in Vienna, Austria. I admire Teresa’s travels and the fact that in many instances she plans and embarks on the journey alone, such as her trip earlier this year to the Middle East and her upcoming trip to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan. So I finally got a chance for her to complete an interview so other young travelettes can hear what she has to say and see her lovely photos!

How is traveling part of your life?

Why not start with an epic statement to answer your first question – my life is traveling and traveling is my life! Since my first backpacking trip around Australia about four years ago the travel-itch keeps returning. Rather regularly than rarely I need to head off to places unfamiliar to me. Therefore I am usually to be found either in the stage of planning an upcoming trip or loitering around in countries that tickle my fancy. I also try to combine moving around different places with occupations one is supposed to carry out – like pursuing my studies by taking advantage of exchange programs, doing volunteer work, learning a language or the like. And of course traveling is part of my life insofar as impressions, experiences and memories of encounters from my trips are stuck in my brain and accompany me every day.

Which cameras do you use?

If shooting digital I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8, whereas for more sophisticated (and less spontaneous) analog photography I’ve got a Nikon EM at hand. I also own a Diana F+ but am still working on my Lomography skills and haven’t brought her along to one of my travels yet.

What got you into photography?

I guess most of us consider photography as an essential ingredient on a trip and of course it is desirable to bring home your memories in a worthy style. So I guess I can say that traveling got me into photography, although my way of taking pictures has changed a lot. Instead of a quantitative approach (“Hey, this ancient building is listed in my guidebook, I guess I have to take photos of it from at least eight different angles!”) I now rather focus on a more conscious way of photography. Jackie, you were a great influence in this regard as you introduced to me what awesome results can be yielded from shooting a roll of film rather than filling up a flash card! My dad then gave me his old Nikon EM as a Christmas present and thereby further supported my transformation.

What is your favorite place in the world to take photos at?

Well I think I haven’t travelled extensively enough to pick one place in the world, but I found strolling around the Middle East to be extremely rewarding (not only) picture-wise! Especially those busy, oriental, colorful markets are an endless source of photo opps – just think about all the exotic items on display and how you’re amidst the locals interacting with each other.

Also cities can get me into photography-excitement, particularly if they are in some way weird and different from what I’m used to. This may comprise street art, (seemingly) nonsense monuments or sculptures, rundown buildings, funny information signs, hilarious advertisements,…

And last but not least, I love making my way out into “the wild” (mountains!) and get some awesome landscape photography done.

What is your favorite (travel)pic and what is so special about it?

This is a tough question! Actually, as much as I would like to write about one shot in particular, I am unable to decide on one. I think one has to differentiate between photos that are special because of their quality concerning colors, light and composition and photos that are special for one personally because they feature people or places you happened to come across and that left a certain impression on you. The latter ones I probably wouldn’t want to share as an answer to your question, because I think there’s a fair chance they wouldn’t qualify as “favorite pic” in the view of someone who has no connection to what they represent.

What is important to you if it comes to travel photography?

For me it is important to capture shots of special moments or simply beautiful sights I come across while at the same time cherishing them in reality in that particular moment I’m there. Back in the days when I usually returned from a one week trip with a three-digit amount of pictures, I quite often found myself wondering whether I had actually SEEN that place.

Of course it is also important to me to get good shots in terms of quality, which I think takes some time (and money) to be achieved.

Another important aspect is to always act respectfully, especially concerning taking photos of people!

What photo-related advice would you give other girls who travel?

I think the most important step in order to become a good travel photographer is to actually commit to every single shot. This involves investing a little energy: For example, get photos in an unusual angle or perspective by lying down on the ground or elevating yourself by climbing whatever is around. Many attractions look better when not too crowded by tourists and in a beautiful morning light – getting up early is the key! Alternatively, you could stay there until late. If it comes to taking photos of locals, don’t be shy but ask them if they mind being printed on paper and shown to your family back home (not necessarily articulated that way). In my experience people are usually happy to pose.

What could also help you get interesting shots is trying to find off the beaten path places. Just wander around towns aimlessly, away from the main streets and without following instructions in your guidebook, but enjoy the element of surprise and keep your eyes open to see what’s around/beneath/above you.

On a more practical level I guess it’s important to familiarize yourself with your equipment and learn about photography techniques. I know all this talk about shutter speeds and lenses may not seem too exciting, but having at least heard about the basics can surely be helpful.

And for after the trip: A little editing, say, cutting or straightening the photos, might not be a bad idea!

Last but not least: Let other good photographers inspire you by for example browsing photo-blogs. Sure you will quickly develop an eye for successful shots and the skills to put your ideas in action.

Enjoy your travels and bring home those creative shots, ladies! 

You can view more of Teresa’s work on her travel photography blog.

post by Jackie Clark