Photographer of the Month: Elia Locardi
If you're looking for inspirational photos from around the world, then look no further than Elia Locardi, this month's Photographer of the Month. Elia and his uber-talented wife Naomi have been location independent since 2012 and together run their popular website, www.blamethemonkey.com. To travel all over the world leading workshops, create an outstanding body of work, provide informative lessons, while running a website and all of the logistics that surround it is a vast undertaking. Elia and Naomi inspire me, and countless others, with their dedication, delightful personalities, and making it work. It is my absolute honour to share with you today the work and words of Elia Locardi.
An old pagoda and a sea of cherry blossoms frame the beautiful and timeless shape of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
A phenomenal sunset in Vernazza, Cinque Terre Italy - one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.
How did you get interested in photography?
Looking back, the first time I started to truly appreciate the power of photography was during my very first trip to Italy when I was 16 years old. My grandmother invited me and my brother to spend a summer in Gorizia, a small town in Northern Italy where my family has a strong history. This was the first time my brother and I had ever left the United States, so you can imagine our anticipation and excitement.
While we were there, my Grandmother took us to Venice — a short train ride from Gorizia. I had brought an old film camera with me; knowing very little about photography, I extinguished two entire rolls in a few short hours. I still remember the feeling of complete awe and fascination with the historical architecture of Venice and I also remember how inspired I felt to capture it on film. I had never felt this way before with a camera in my hand, but faced with such an inspiring place, I just couldn’t get enough.
Later, when I returned home to the Florida Keys and got the photos back from processing, I excitedly looked through the stack of images. When I came to the shots from Venice, a specific photo grabbed my attention and stood out from the pile. Where all the other shots were adequate memories, this photo had something unique. I had no idea why, but I was totally transfixed by my emotional response to it. It was just a shot of a particular canal, but somehow, it embodied everything I loved and remembered from my first visit to Venice.
Of course, these days I could explain it by talking about the power of the composition, the dramatic lighting, and the color, but back then, it was just something special - something that I didn’t need to fully understand to appreciate and cherish. I think that was the day that I really came to appreciate how powerful a photograph could be. It may also explain why I still love to visit Venice year after year.
From the top of Montparnasse Tower, the sky above Paris France explodes with vivid color and light.
A staggering twilight view of the Dubai Marina from the 85th floor.
How long have you been a photographer?
While I’d love to say that I’ve been a photographer since childhood, photography is actually a fairly recent path for me. Besides my first experience in Venice, I spent some time during college shooting with an Nikon N70 and exploring creatively through abstract photography.
It would be quite a while though before I really picked up a camera again, as I spent a long career in post production, motion design, and image alteration from 1999 - 2009. Fields related to photography in my mind, these work experiences allowed me to become very skilled in Adobe® Photoshop and taught me a great deal about camera angles and lighting.
I bought my first DSLR camera in 2009, before a trip to Italy with my wife, and by early 2010 it became clear that photography was my true passion and calling. I spent most of the year aggressively traveling and building my portfolio and by the end of the year Blamethemonkey.com was born and so was my career path as a professional photographer.
As the stars dance above the treasury in the ancient site of Petra Jordan.
A perfect moment of beautiful cloudy twilight over Ponte Sant Angelo in Rome, Italy.
What is your favorite place to photograph? Or subject?
My favorite subjects to photograph are the places where civilizations have found a way to combine man-made structures with stunning natural landscapes in a beautiful way. That’s why , as a photographer, I’m attracted to many Unesco World Heritage Sites like Petra, Jordan or Cinque Terre, Italy.
Colors and shapes blend beautifully with the morning sunrise on St Clair Beach in New Zealand.
Colors seem to dance as the soft light warms the waterfall Seljalandsfoss in the Southern Icelandic Countryside.
How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?
This is something that my wife Naomi and I are always thinking about - ways to not only take photos, but to give something positive back to the areas we visit and love.
There are lots of organizations out there that allow photographers to use their craft with purpose. I would suggest first figuring out what it is that you’re passionate about— social issues, human rights concerns, species conservation or environmental advocacy— begin there by looking for ways you can contribute to things that you truly care about.
You can reach out to organizations directly and donate your time to produce imagery that contributes to their fundraising efforts. There’s no question that the help of good photographs can propel their message further and make a huge difference.
Another idea would be to sell prints of your work and contribute the profits directly to an organization that matters to you.
For the past 2 years, Naomi and I lead charity photography tours in Cambodia, that combined touring and shooting the beautiful landscapes, culture and temples, with working alongside NGOs doing incredible work to support the communities there. Participants on these trips leave with not only stunning images, but also life-changing experiences and a greater understanding of how they can affect the world around them. Most of the profits from these tours gets donated right back to the organizations we work with on the ground in these countries.
It’s something we’re hoping to do more of in the future and we have plans to lead another Cambodia trip in 2015 and possibly one to Thailand either late next year or early in 2016.
The extraordinary Meydan Bridge, one of Dubai's most beautiful pieces of architecture.
At sunrise, the colors of the lavender fields in Valensole France are absolutely spectacular.
Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
Oh, most definitely but the good news is that as the years have passed, more and more people are becoming desensitized to photographers. This has led to many places becoming more “photography friendly.”
Bear in mind that I don’t really photograph people so much as locations, so I mainly deal with tripod and private property restrictions or irate local security people that take their jobs way too seriously. For those situations, it always pays to brush up on your ninja stealth techniques to get the job done. If that doesn’t work, try Jedi Mind Tricks.
Illuminated in soft twilight, Osaka Castle floats on a sea of beautiful cherry blossoms.
The ancient streets of Kyoto are beautiful at night.
Any photography tips you want to share?
As a travel photographer, I believe that experiencing a location is just as important as capturing it. That’s why I love nothing more than to fully immerse myself in an environment before I even pick up the camera.
Spending time in a location can help you form an emotional connection as you gain a better understanding of how to best capture the scene around you. It’s that emotional connection that will help you translate those feelings into the photography you create.
As far as crafting that emotional connection goes, I’ve been blogging about photography for quite a few years on my website, www.blamethemonkey.com so anyone interested could easily find heaps of tips and information there.
An astoundingly beautiful sunset in Oia Santorini, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
The stars dance above the extraordinary Mt Bromo Indonesia as the morning fog rolls through the caldera.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Definitely. My best advice would be to just have fun! Follow your own passion and desire to create. As long as you love what you’re doing, all else will come with time.
The stars dance above the enchanting town of Oia Santorini, the island paradise of the Aegean Sea.
A breathtaking twilight in Manarola, one of the most beautiful towns in Le Cinque Terre.
Marina Bay Sands and the Helix Bridge, Singapore
Belly of the Beast, Stockholm, Sweden
Jordan Oram is the Photography Editor for Wandering Educators.
He has a passion for encouraging and empowering others to realize the combinations of their unique passions and strengths. In April of 2012, with $250 to his name, he travelled more than 10,000 km, over 7 months, across Canada and back, which is the subject of this new ebook. Since then he's continued to travel around to where he's invited, with no home of his own, to encourage people to rock out their awesomeness. Find him at www.maplemusketeer.com
All photos courtesy and copyright Elia Locardi