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Keith Ladzinski: Travelling with drones

We speak to award-winning Nat Geo photographer Keith Ladzinski

Written by
Babette Radclyffe-Thomas

Ahead of the exclusive launch 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 most memorable trips, travelling with drones and his relationship with Jacada Travel.

Ladzinski handpicked each piece on show to reflect the beauty of planet Earth, and the collection 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 and the animals that live within them, and encourage us to preserve these pristine environments.

What are some of your most memorable trips?

Last year a trip to Antarctica was definitely a highlight of my career. I had been to Antarctica one other time before this, but this trip was different because I got to see first-hand so many animals, penguins, seals and whales. I could also see how fragile the ecosystem there really is. I could see how everything is directly affecting these animals such as the loss of sea ice and other effects of climate change. It was a real eye-opening trip for me, and it meant a lot. It felt good to be out there documenting it and then see the word spread and I hope that people will now start making better decisions in order to protect our planet.

How big is your team when you travel to places like Antarctica?

It depends! That trip involved a big team as we had 14 people. I do a lot of trips where it will just be me and an assistant, and then I meet up with scientists or a location fixer there who help me to navigate the places that I need to go to. The trip to Antarctica involved a bigger crew because we also had a film crew, but when I’m on a photography mission it is not uncommon to have a team of up to three people.

Do you ever use drones in your photography?

I use drones as often as I can. Aerial photography and videography have changed so much recently. I remember when you used to have to hire a helicopter to achieve the aerial perspective that you can now achieve by just grabbing something out of your backpack. It has revolutionised the way we can tell stories and document the natural world. I think drone photography is one of the biggest advancements we’ve had as storytellers in the last decade. We get to now see the world right at our fingertips. Before these recent advancements to get out and see things from a different perspective would have been very expensive or maybe would have even been impossible.

For example, I was in Greenland last summer and we were doing the first ascent of a technical peak. We took some aerial footage using just a tiny little drone that could fit in my backpack. Without the drone it would have been impossible or unbelievably expensive to achieve the same footage. To charter a helicopter in remote Greenland would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars but now you can have a $2000 remote controlled helicopter that if you can power it up, you can fly it carte blanche. Drones have changed the way we do aerial photography.

You frequently travel around the world, often with Jacada Travel, can you tell me more about this?

My wife Dana and I were planning our honeymoon several years ago when Dana first reached out to Jacada Travel. We spoke with travel designer Byron and after explaining that we wanted to go to Africa a place that we both really love, Byron and Jacada helped arrange a wonderful, dream trip to South Africa. Alex and the team could not have been any friendlier. It was such a wonderful experience and I’m so grateful for this new relationship. I really feel like we are aligned in terms of how much we care about the planet and that was something that meant a lot to me right away.

‘A Fragile Planet’ photo exhibition is currently showing at The Haven, 29/F Wyndham Place, 40-44 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong.

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Stay tuned for our final interview with Keith…

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