Travel Photography with Jacintha Verdegaal
Jacintha is a photographer, foodie, and traveler from the Netherlands. She loves travelling the world with her camera, and in 2013 started her now famous blog, Urban Pixxels. Her photos have been used in magazines like Condé Nast Traveler, she has co-written a ’48 hours in London’ travel guide for National Geographic, and has been listed several times as one of the best travel accounts to follow on Instagram! Urban Pixxels is all about travel and full of useful information for people who want to travel the world.
Read more about her journey to becoming a travel photographer and traveling the world.
Interviewer: Why did you choose travel photography as your focus?
Jacintha: I don’t believe it was a very intentional decision. I’ve always been interested in photography, long before I started my blog Urban Pixxels. Over the years I did several photography courses to not only improve my skills, but also to experiment with different types of photography. I realized that what I enjoy most is taking photos when traveling. I love to travel just as much as taking photos so it only made sense to combine the two and focus on travel photography. When I started Urban Pixxels in 2013 I didn’t want to make it all about the travel photos, but it has always been an important part of every story I share.
Interviewer: What has been your favourite destination so far and why?
Jacintha: That’s such a difficult question to answer! There are so many destinations I love for different reasons. As the name Urban Pixxels suggests, I mostly travel to cities around the world, but interestingly enough my favorite destination is one of the most deserted places I’ve ever been to: Namibia. The landscape is just spectacular and so photogenic. And I could never get tired of going on safari. But from a photography point of view, the highlight of this trip was visiting a place called Kolmanskop. It’s an abandoned, early 1900s, German diamond mining town in the Namib desert. Taking photos of this ghost town that’s covered in sand is amazing.
Interviewer: How do you feel that travel photography enriches our world?
Jacintha: I believe it helps to show the differences and similarities between countries and cultures. The news play a very important role in telling the stories of different countries, but when you travel to these places, meet the people, and eat their food, it’s often a completely different experience. With travel photography you can share that side. The one that’s maybe not as newsworthy, but that helps people that haven’t been there understand what makes a destination beautiful and interesting to visit.
Interviewer: You’re also a foodie. How do you think that food helps to represent a culture through travel photography?
Jacintha: Local food is such an important part of every culture. Not just what they eat, but also how they prepare it and how, when or where they eat it. Food involves people, so when you want to understand the people and their culture, sharing a meal with them is a good place to start. As a travel photographer it’s hard to bring across what it tastes like – you’d need words for that – but food is so visual that there are many stories to tell about the culture by focusing on food.
Interviewer: What does it take to be successful in travel photography in this day and age when there are a lot of photographers online trying to solicit their business?
Jacintha: It depends on your definition of success. I’m currently not a full-time photographer or aiming to be, but I still try to reach a lot of people with my photos and travel stories. It’s a cliché, but I believe it’s important to focus on having your own style and taking high quality photos. I see so many people taking the exact same travel photos. Even if you’re great with your camera, it will be difficult to stand out with photos that we’ve seen a million times before. It’s not always easy, but I still continue to develop my own style and improve my skills every day.
Interviewer: You recently completed a two-part series project on St. Petersburg. What was your inspiration for the project and why do you think it’s taken off like it has? What were the ingredients to making it a success and fulfilling a need in the marketplace?
Jacintha: I wanted to visit a destination that had the potential to surprise me. Where I wouldn’t know exactly what to expect. I’m definitely a planner, but I feel more inspired when I go somewhere without an itinerary or a checklist of all the things I have to see (according to other travel bloggers or guide books). It helps me to be more aware of what’s happening around me and more open to unexpected experiences.
With the content I create afterwards I’m trying to take people with me on that journey, sharing my honest impressions, and photos of a city that’s very well-known but still a bit of mystery. In addition, I try to combine inspirational content with useful travel advice and tips for those who want to have a similar experience.
Interviewer: What are your top three pieces of career advice?
Jacintha: Never stop learning, be inspired by others but don’t copy them, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the people or publications you dream to work with – you never know what may happen.