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Cam Cope Talks Storytelling and Travel Photography

Community Highlights Photography Cam Cope Talks Storytelling and Travel Photography

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Following the unenviable task of judging the best travel photos of 2013, we chatted with photographer, travel journalist and Picture 1000 Words author Cam Cope about what inspires his photography.

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What’s your background and where can we find your work?

I'm originally from Gippsland, the southeasternmost region of mainland Australia. I became a photographer/travel journalist to explore life creatively and combine travel adventures with history, art, culture and storytelling—amongst many other things. My work can be found in published photo-books, published articles, and gallery exhibitions.

How did the Picture 1000 Words project eventuate?

Picture 1000 Words is an experimental love-child conceived in a highly reactive part of my imagination where an age-old truism met with an art philosophy I believe in. If it were an equation it might read something like:

"A Picture Tells a Thousand Words" X "Don't try to be the best. Try to be Different." = Picture 1000 Words

It struck me that it would be great to invite creative writers to collaborate on a project where they can each express the '1000 words' a given picture tells them and share the results in a photobook anthology and exhibition. As much research as I could endure determined that no one had put this concept together before; it was therefore different and 'new', and when I ran the idea past authors their response was terrific. The project itself then eventuated through a great amount of sweat from the combined brows of myself and all the talented authors involved.

Your photography covers many diverse countries and situations – what first interested you about travel?

When I was growing up my dad instilled me with a curiosity about the world, and because he spent significant periods of time overseas, I was always itching for 'my turn'. By the time I finished school my interests in history, the environment, art, languages, indigenous cultures, music, dance, hiking and camping all combined into the ultimate vehicle for travel. Photography has become a natural extension of that, but I am also very serious about the craft and am as equally inspired by great photographers as I am by the people I meet through the course of my work.

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What has been the most memorable place or experience you have photographed?

Despite having sailed in Patagonia, ridden horses with nomads in Mongolia, lurched on the back of a truck in the Bolivian Andes, deep sea fished in Samoa, hitchhiked the Canadian arctic, island-hopped Indonesia and scaled volcano craters in Vanuatu, the most memorable experience I've had was actually very close to home in Australia. It was working on a project, Boorun's Canoe, that was all about an elder passing on local Gunai/Kurnai traditional Aboriginal culture to younger generations. The experience really proved to me that you don't have to go to the high ends of the earth to find an amazing story.

Describe your camera kit for a typical photography assignment.

I don't seem to get typical assignments! But I always use a Canon 5D Mark II camera body, sometimes with a battery pack, and choose from one of three lenses: the Sigma fixed 50mm f1.4 lens, the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens and the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens. I've also started to use a Fujifilm Instax to add some instant-photo fun to the equation and make the experience of photographing people I meet on the road into more of an immediate exchange.

Where would be your ideal assignment?

Anywhere on Earth that's remotely inhabitable with the strict proviso I have the time and flexibility to go into depth and do the subject justice and make a fair living at the same time—I'm allowed to dream aren't I?

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You can follow Cam's world travels on his blog or visit his website for more breathtaking photos.

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By KellieBarnes

Posted Mon, Jan 13, 2014