Ahead of the opening of his latest photo exhibition ‘A Fragile Planet’ in Hong Kong at our luxury event space The Haven, we sat down with award-winning National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Keith Ladzinski to find out more about his work as well as his top destinations worldwide for adventure seekers.
Ladzinski handpicked the pieces on show to reflect the beauty of planet Earth, which include images of awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife from all over the planet. His images serve as the perfect reminder of the fragility of our natural habitats, the animals that live within them and to encourage us to preserve these pristine environments.
How would you describe yourself as an adventure photographer?
The term adventure photographer really is someone who is willing to go to all ends of the earth and put themselves in uncomfortable situations. I really think that the beauty of the job is that it takes me out of my comfort zone all the time. It brings me face to face with beautiful animals that I grew up loving and admiring and it takes me to places in the world that so many times I didn’t even know existed. The role takes me truly to the far corners of the planet, and a lot of that is driven through the community I work with like the adventure athletes, biologists and scientists who are doing cutting-edge scientific research. I’m just lucky enough to go! You do have to have a willingness to realise that you’re going to be giving up a lot of your comfort, and just be able to embrace the fact that things are going to be unpredictable, in a good and also in a bad way.
Do you enjoy that aspect of your job?
I do! Interestingly enough you kind of become addicted to it. If I’m home for more than two or three weeks, and because I’ve now been doing this for 13 years full time, I start to get restless and I start looking for the next mind-blowing thing. A lot of the time I can’t even believe that I get to do the things that I do. But so much of it again is working within a community of likeminded people, and I think adventure photography really is being willing to go anywhere and do anything that you have to do to get the shot.
Do you have a favourite photo that you are showing here?
It is hard to say – every picture holds its own memory. One of the early drivers that made me fall in love with photography is the whole time capsule aspect, I can look around at these pictures right now and I’m relatively happy and proud of so many of them but each one has its own back story. For me personally, I can remember who I was with, I can remember the moment, I can remember the feel of the weather and it takes me back.
Every trip I go in is incredible and each one has its own very special moment. Trips that are incredible for me are the ones when you just have an array of having to work really hard, suffer a little bit and you have an incredible sunset or sunrise – when things are up and down they tend to be more memorable. The trips that are utterly smooth are forgettable – it’s the trips that really push you to your limits physically and emotionally, those are the ones that stick.
What is your favourite subject to photograph?
I prefer to shoot more on a natural history side – wildlife and landscapes are my favourite. However, I like some variety and with so much of the work I will go out with a team of athletes or scientists and so usually I can get a little of everything and that’s one of the benefits of the job. Wildlife and landscape can be the hardest things to capture because you can’t direct them so you’re at the mercy of whatever you’re given.
Do you have any top destinations for adventure seekers?
Chile and South Africa are two of my favourite countries. They offer so much diversity and are really travel friendly. The things you can see and experience in both of those countries are top notch – you can have a 10 in every category in either one of these countries. I really like Iceland as well – it is a very hot destination now and there’s a reason why. You can see a lot even right out of the car. For me, both Chile and South Africa are havens for a photographer.
Stay tuned for our next interview with Keith…