Earlier this year, our principal London events photographer, Helen, decided to take a trip with some friends to Nepal. Helen took stunning reportage style photographs all along the way, documenting her journey. Here at Raccoon London, we don’t often get the chance to showcase the work of our photographers outside of events photography. So here, in this blog post, we have interviewed Helen about her time away and we have also included some of her amazing photographs. We hope you feel inspired to take a journey of your own…
- Your photography is beautiful, where did you learn to shoot?
Thank you! I studied English and History of Art at university and my love of photography really developed there, with my final dissertation looking at Victorian portraiture and representations of young femininity. After working in marketing for 8 years I returned to study photography on a 2 year HND programme in Glasgow.
- What equipment did you take away with you?
The camera equipment I use for my work is very heavy and I never take this away travelling as I feel that it detracts from my enjoyment of a holiday, and also is too obtrusive when attempting to shoot locals. I recently purchased a Fuji XT2 which is half the size. And I took two lenses - a 50mm and 24mm primes equivalents. The camera was small enough to have around my neck whilst trekking although in hindsight I wish I had purchased a should clip which allows you to clip it to the strap of your rucksack which keeps it more stable against you.
I also used my iPhone - which to be honest is incomparable when it comes to capturing panoramas.
- What was the highlight of your time away?
Being in such awe inspiring landscapes and the isolation. It was the start of the trekking season so it was very quiet on the trail - we could walk for hours and only see the odd local.
- What was the most testing experience of your time away?
The cold! It got to minus 15 at some points at night - I was sleeping with all of my clothes on, a -7 sleeping bag and a couple of horsehair blankets. The accommodation was often only wooden huts. And there were no real hot showers - sometimes a bucket of warm water.
- What was the food like?
The traditional food of Dal Bhat is delicious - rice, lentil soup and papadums. Considering the remoteness of where we were there was a wide variety of food available though. Everywhere did their own take on an apple pie. Breakfast was usually porridge with apple. Lots of chai tea as well which is warming and spicy.
- What was the culture like?
The areas we were visiting were very sparsely populated. Tourism is the main industry and at the time we were passing through a lot of places were shut. Many of the young people have moved away to the cities for work so sometimes the little villages and towns felt like ghost towns - but this would be different at the height of the season. There is a gentleness and warmth to the people. And the fluttering prayer flags and prayer wheels across the mountains reminds you of their spirituality.
- What was staying with the locals like?
We stayed in tea houses which were either stone or wooden structures. Some of them new and clean others a little more tired. They only cost £1 a night if you ate your supper there. Very basic facilities but warm hospitality and usually a fire you could huddle around reading your book or chatting before the early bedtime.
- What would you say to yourself in hindsight, in preparation for the trip?
I don’t think I could have prepared much better. I took the right kit, enough clothes and was reasonably fit - although due to illness (I think in response to the vaccinations!) I wasn’t able to do any training before I left.
- As a photographer, did you feel compelled to document this trip?
Yes! Your fingers itch to capture the people, landscape and your own experiences. I always regret it when I don’t have a camera. I’m not a landscape photographer however so I consider these to be snapshots. As a photographer when you are travelling with non-photographers you kind of have to grab photos on the go - your group won’t thank you for stopping every 5 minutes. You also have less control over the timings for shots in terms of waiting for the best light/time of day.
- How did this photographic experience differ from your career as an events photographer?
It’s personal and emotional. And no expectation on delivery.
- Do you feel like you have an artistic vision, that influences the way you shoot?
Yes - I think I have a sensitivity to my environment.