These 10 stunning photos taken across the world will give you travel goals for 2018
Travelling in style is an art in itself. I am an art photographer who happens to travel a lot, preferably in style. This does not make me a travel photographer. I am amused by photographers and instagrammers, who relish in malaria stories and boast with the number of flee bites they received while sleeping rough in deserts of Mongolia as if this testified to the quality of their pictures.
In the last years I have travelled across four continents, mostly starting from my second home in beautiful Paris, stayed in some of the most spectacular hotels worldwide, experienced extremes like the hostile dryness of the Namib desert in Africa or a near-death experience in the floods of last year’s hurricane Irma.
Yet being a “visual person”, I prefer to let my photographs speak for themselves – all the more since they often express an idea or tell a story utterly disconnected from the time and place of their origin. The time/date information may be the only verifiable and truthful fact about a specific photograph and yet about as meaningful as the shutter speed and exposition.
Knowing that, except one, all photographs in the following selection have been completely art-directed and planned by me, produced with a sizeable team and arranged on set down to the smallest detail before I photographed them, you will appreciate the difference between my work and travel photography.
Rome, Italy, August 2017. In the 18th century even the sewer lids in the Piaza di Spagna were made of white marble. The elegant woman crossing the place amidst tourist crowds seems to belong to another era too. This place is listed as one of the most popular Roman tourist attractions and is allegedly very overcrowded, although anybody who has been to Chandni Chowk in Delhi would dispute this.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands, July 2017. This private island belongs to the legendary British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. He has spent over thirty years planting tens of thousands of plants and trees on this island to make it his home. He told me that there were exactly two palm trees on the island when he bought it. His presence and will are felt everywhere on the island. Just as in this photograph – the invisible second kite surfer is Sir Richard.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Town, South Africa, 2013. This road out of “The Mother City” as the Capetonians call it, belongs to the most scenic drives in the world. I found myself embedded in the local rockabilly scene – people who adore the 1950s to 60s culture, music and clothes. When they decided to take a few dozen of their vintage cars and motorbikes for a spin with me, it was better be on board or to get out of the way.
East of Swakopmund, Namibia, April 2015. This portrait of Petra, a young fashion designer, captures the impression she made on me when we first met: an extraterrestrial briefly visiting a hostile planet. The location is in Namibia – a stone desert known as the Moon Landscape. It is one of the driest regions in an extremely dry country. Even in the rainy season only lichen appears. I had Petra and a full team flown in from Europe to take this picture.
Gustavia, Saint-Barthélemy, French West Indies, September 2017. Gustavia is the main city on the island. It resembles the formerly glamorous small ports in France before mass tourism destroyed their charm. I came hoping that I could take pictures here and pretend they were taken in France, in Saint-Tropez. I was not disappointed. No ugliness and no police barricades necessary to block tourists from entering my frame. Just me and Orane riding her motorbike up and down a beautiful, clean, empty street.
The glamorous Saint-Barthélemy in French West Indies, also known as “the millionaires’ island” in September 2017, two days before hurricane Irma destroyed most of it. The island’s only airport has one of the shortest commercial runways in the world and only a few specially trained pilots with 12-seater airplanes and helicopters are allowed to land and take off. There is no photoshop involved in this picture.
Saint-Tropez, Côte d’Azur, France, September 2017. This town became a famous film location in the late 1950s and tourists have been coming in droves ever since. In the season it is overrun by day-trippers and bears little charm. In all my life in France I never saw a beautiful blonde woman riding a bicycle in a Chanel skirt. Probably neither have the French police, so they kindly closed the street for my photoshoot.
Kensington, London, September 2013. This is the only non-staged photograph in this selection. If I had arranged it I could not have done it better. Everything about it is perfect, the position of the motor, the deep red hue of its body contrasting with the nondescript cars. The driver and the passenger are where they properly belong. Dressing up social reality by sitting next to one’s driver and insisting on being on mutual first name terms is so middle-class.
The Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy. At 5 am, the city for once is so quiet that the sound of bells summoning the monks to their morning prayers can be heard from behind the monastery walls. At no other time this 18th century monument can be seen empty – it is a busy social place day and night, offering thousands of open-air seats on its steps and the spectacle of Italian street-life below.
Saint-Jean Beach, Saint-Barthélemy, French West Indies, September 2017. The best thing about shooting beach pictures on French territory is that by law the beaches are always public – even on an millionaires’ island, even in front of the most expensive hotels. The locals amuse themselves with stories about foreign billionaires who bought vast properties without realising that they will have to share their beach with everybody.
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