Richard I’Anson: A Look Behind The Lens

We sit down with your course mentor, Richard I’Anson, to pick his brain and get the story behind the man, behind the lens.

Q: Your iconic images for Lonely Planet make you one of the original ‘travel influencers’. Do you remember the image that first inspired you?

A: When I was planning my first seven month trip, I remember clearly opening a pictorial guidebook and there was an image of a Nepalese porter with a Himalayan peak behind him and I just looked at that and thought — I’ve got to go.

Q: What was your first camera?

A: A Yashica 35-ME rangefinder. I got it for my 16th Birthday.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between a hobbyist and a pro?

A: Hobbyists find it difficult to separate their emotion from the photo. It’s easy to fall in love with a photo just because you took it, or because of what is captured. It could be an exotic temple that you’ve never seen before. But objectively, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great photo. Pros are able to see the shot for what it is, without being influenced by emotion.

Q: How about the difference between a good shot and a world-class shot?

A: There’s a big difference. I’ve had thousands of images published in my 30+ year career and out of this, I’d say I’ve only captured a couple of hundred that might be considered ‘world-class’.

Q: Travel photography on social media; good or bad thing?

A: Overall I think it’s a great thing. My main issue with platforms like Instagram is that they can give people the illusion that they’ve taken a great photo based on the number of likes and comments from friends and family. But again, most of the time, this is purely based on an emotional or non-critical judgment. What I try to teach my students to do is to look at a photo objectively and critique it based on core principals.

Q: What is it that inspires you to teach your craft?

A: When I started, we didn’t have the internet and it was difficult to come by information on photos and photographers. I want to share what I’ve learnt with as many people as I can. Plus, I’ve found that by helping others, I am forced to reflect on my work and practice and in the process, hone my own skills and understanding.

Q: Any advice for the next generation of travel photographers?

A: Ultimately, the only way to practice and get better is to go out and travel. If you can, find someone to be a mentor who has been in the business for a long time to review your work objectively. From a practical standpoint, focus on building a collection of photos to show people that you can complete the task at hand—that you can deliver.

Q: Wrapping things up, ‘success in travel photography’ in 10 words or less?

A: The right place, at the right time, all the time.

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.