Adventure/travel photographer Matt Horspool has captured distinctive images in some 46 different countries but when you ask him where he’ll definitely be visiting again, his response is unequivocal: ‘Hands down, Kyrgyzstan and Greenland are the places I would return to above any others,’ he says. [Article courtesy of Olympus]
Heaven on Earth – Tulparkul, Kyrgyzstan.
‘They are truly incredible and have so many untouched regions which have never been documented. Kyrgyzstan is a photographer’s playground with every kilometre presenting an entirely new form of the landscape. Picture soaring snow-capped peaks, crystal clear lakes, dry, barren plains through to landforms that cannot even be described in words. The difficulty in reaching these locations is enough to deter the average traveller, which for me personally is their biggest drawcard.’
Mother Nature’s Canvas – Eastern Greenland.
Spectacular and exotic landscapes are one thing, but if you’re going to be a successful travel photographer, you’ll need to be capable of seeing strong images wherever you may find yourself. Asked if he’s come up against a location that stymied him photographically, Matt says, ‘I’ve never really found a landscape that couldn’t be photographed in some aesthetically pleasing manner. Sure, the number of interesting shots that could be taken may be limited, but there is always something creative you could work with.
‘In 2018 I was commissioned to document Mungo National Park over three or so days. The weather forecast was cloudless and hot – meaning the light would be harsh. Knowing that 99% of the area consisted of dried up, flat lake beds, I knew composition was going to be challenging. Most of the landforms that make Mungo so unique were quite tricky to photograph as they could not be accessed without a guided tour. Even then, we weren’t allowed to stray from the group. To make matters worse, the sun would rise behind the hill where these features were located,’ but he added, ‘in the end, I managed to capture a small series of images that I was happy with.’
As significant a part of his work as his landscapes are, Matt also enjoys capturing the swirl of life on the streets of the world’s great cities. And, he explains, having a compact weather-sealed Olympus offers some very practical advantages when you’re caught up in the colourful and surging chaos of one of the world’s great celebratory events.
Lathmar Holi – Nandgaon, India.
‘The vast majority of my favourite photos from India’s Holi festival were shot with a single outstretched hand amongst a sea of charging bodies. Neither of my two E-M1Xs or pro lenses had external water or dust protection for the full six-day festival, so I wasn’t fumbling through clumsy rain covers or housings to get my shots. I could point, compose and shoot with utmost certainty that I’d nail the shot. Name another system that could withstand that much punishment.’
Canyon Rays – Blue Mountains, Australia.
‘My style of travel photography is often fast-paced,’ Matt adds, ‘and due to environmental constraints – for example when no camera bags are allowed – using a small system like the Olympus is a godsend.
Rwandan Mountain Gorillas – Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
‘During my trip to Rwanda, we went Mountain Gorilla trekking. We were informed that once we neared the gorilla family, our camera bags had to be left with the rangers. I had two camera bodies slung around my shoulders with the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO + MC-20 Teleconverter (35mm equivalent 160-600mm) on one body, and the 12-100mm f/4 PRO IS (24-200mm equivalent) on the other. I was then able to carry my 45mm f/1.2 PRO inside one of my slim pant pockets and 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO in another. I would never have captured as many amazing shots in this short 1-hour session if I had been limited by the size of my kit.’
Bridge of Sighs – Venice, Italy.
Asked if he has any advice for aspiring photographers, Matt says connecting with an online photography community can be a real boost. ‘A photographer of any skill level can benefit from being a part of an inclusive community. There they will be provided with consistent feedback on their work and have access to informal modelling and mentorship, all the while improving their technical skills.
‘Instagram and other social media groups can play positive roles in striking up new friendships. When I first started, I found people around Sydney who were creating fresh content and didn’t appear to be too big-headed. I sent them a message saying how much I genuinely loved their work and asked if they wanted to meet up and go on an adventure. It’s that easy! You would be surprised at how quickly your skills develop when you are having fun.’