August 3rd 2010

Q & A With Ellen Barone - Adventure Travel Photographer Extraordinaire Ahead of welcoming Ellen as our guest host and photography expert on our September 12-17 New Mexico Walk, we caught up with her in between travels to ask a few searching questions: The Wayfarers: How did you get into photography - and more specifically - travel photography?
Ellen Barone: My path to photography was born of time, experimentation, and observation. I’ve always spent much of my free time in solitary pursuits - reading, learning, exploring, playing, and experimenting. Photography was the tool I used to record those explorations. Whether in nature or immersed in civilization, with a camera I could spy on the world, sit there and record what happens, walk among it, eavesdrop on its conversations, engage its characters and notice the little things. Eventually travel, discovery, and photography became the underlying theme infusing all of my life - personally and professionally. TW: What is the most unexpected thing you have learned on your travels? EB: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m guilty of taking for granted the privilege of travel. When I want to go somewhere, it becomes a matter of logistics – saving money, reading up on the place, booking the flight, finding a place to stay, learning language basics, filling out the paperwork, etc. But when I’m out there in the world and someone tells me they’d love to come to America, but can’t get a visa, or that no matter how hard they work they’ll never have the means to travel, it hits me hard how fortunate I am, every time.
TW: What is your favorite country or destination and why? EB: I used to struggle to answer this question until photographer Bob Krist came up with the perfect reply: 'My favorite place is always the next place – the place I haven’t been yet.' It’s so true! TW: What is the most unusual experience you have had while traveling? EB: Hank and I were traveling in a very remote region of Myanmar (Burma) on a riverboat voyage up the Chindwin River. At one point I was wandering alone with my camera in a village when a local woman approached and asked, in English, if she could walk with me. Myanmar is ruled by a ruthless military junta known to imprison its people for plotting against the government with little more proof than that they’d been seen associating with Westerners. So it was with this on my mind that I walked along with my new friend. We exchanged vitals and I learned that we were the same age, that she was a high school math teacher (I am a former high school math teacher) and that due to her status as an educator she was afforded certain privileges, including that of learning English and talking with a Westerner, without fear of reprisal. For several hours she took on the role of my guide, helping me shop for textiles, taking me to the school yard for panoramic views of the surrounding river valley, and introducing me to exotic fruits and delicious street food I’d never have sampled without her. It was a magical afternoon. I knew I’d been given a gift that day. As we walked back to the ship, hugging our goodbyes at the dock, she took both my hands in hers and said, 'I will remember this day for all my life.' TW: What makes a great travel photograph? EB: Whether it’s a beautiful French landscape bathed in golden light, the blur of Tokyo commuter trains, or a friendly fishmonger working the morning crowd in a Turkish market, a great travel photograph transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
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Join Ellen Barone and her husband the author Hank Barone for a walking vacation with The Wayfarers in New Mexico, September 12-17, 2010.
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About Ellen: Whether she’s sailing across the Atlantic, crossing the Sahara on camel, surfing Maui’s swells, dog sledding the Alaskan tundra, cycling the Sicilian coastline, eating scorpion in Singapore or hanging out in the tango bars of Buenos Aires, freelance writer-photographer Ellen Barone strives for honest storytelling and vivid photography. Inspired by a Fulbright teaching exchange in the early nineties, the photojournalist has been covering adventure travel since 1998, traveling to more than 60 countries for travel-related assignments. In addition, she’s a popular radio host and author of several online practical advice consumer travel columns.

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