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Posts tagged: travel photography

Whimsical Paper Cut Outs Lead to Instagram Stardom, World Travel

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Sentosa Island, Singapore

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Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas

For children and tourists, sightseeing is a delight; for artistes, its passé. But why? Has the art world become so highfalutin that we can’t enjoy the simple pleasure of visiting someplace historic and beautiful? London photographer Rich McCor and his enchanting paper cut-outs answer with a resounding, “No way!”

The Most Incredible Underwater Photos Taken off An Island in The Philippines (Sponsored)

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© Karl Lundholm / Offset

Beneath the surface

© Karl Lundholm / Offset

It all started with a Google search: “the best surf in The Philippines.” Having just come off the high of shooting waves in Australia, Swedish photographer and Offset artist Karl Lundholm wanted to make one last stop on his way home. One place kept coming up in his search, and the more he learned, the more he yearned to visit the island of Siargao.

Incredible Stories and Photos from Countries on the US Travel Warnings List (Sponsored)

Documentary travel photography from North Korea.

Two children walking along an empty street in Pyongyang © Aaron Joel Santos / Offset

Aaron Joel Santos: There’s something almost upsettingly benign about traveling in North Korea. It feels set up, like a stage in some very elaborate school play. The costumes and actors and lines and directions are all there, laid out for the people you come across. It’s a Ghost World, there through the fog of a window pane. Hidden behind several layers so you can barely make out what it is you’re looking at. It’s mysterious, of course, but it also plays into its own mysteries perfectly.

It’s almost as if, at times, it knows what travelers want out of it, and it obliges. It’s a strange place, and maybe all the more so because we can’t seem to get a grasp on it. It’s a slippery country. At times brutal and frightening and utterly evil, and in other instances, almost hokey and kitsch. But always with a kind of looming terror. Which is why I photographed it the way I did. Lost in that fog. Trying to depict this idea of ghosts haunting a city. A certain myopia and strangeness, something that couldn’t be quite seen or grasped or believed.

The United States government has a list, updated frequently to include all travel warnings to civilians, advising them on precarious situations in locations around the world. Some countries stay on the list for the blink of an eye; others remain for years. While the government cannot of course forbid us from visiting these countries, the list uses no uncertain terms: “We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all.”

As of this writing, there are thirty-seven places on the Travel Warnings List. Reasons for issuing a warning range from civil war to limited protection by the US government. The Mali warning makes mention of recent terrorist attacks and criminal activity, and some of the remote areas of Algeria are also listed for potential terrorism and kidnappings.

The Iran Travel Warning cites religious tensions, unfair arrests, and “various elements in Iran that remain hostile to the United States.” Americans are warned against visiting parts of Tunisia along the border with Libya due to fear of terrorism. According to the list, North Korea poses a “serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, which imposes unduly harsh sentences, including for actions that in the United States would not be considered crimes.”

Although the government is quick to point out that “tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work,” it still makes the list because of crime-related violence. Armed robberies are mentioned in association with Venezuela.

Every one of these countries has a history that goes well beyond a number on the list. We wanted to ask some of our favorite Offset photographers who have spent time in these places to tell us their stories, candid tales about personal experiences. Their memories are their own and no one else’s, and they should by no means be understood to represent something general or universal, but they do illuminate sides of these countries that otherwise would remain invisible.

Yes, some of these stories are scary, but others are breathtakingly beautiful. None are what we expected.

Breathtaking Images of Syria Before the Civil War (Sponsored)

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Azm Palace in Hama © Lisa Limer / Offset

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A rural village © Lisa Limer / Offset

In the spring of 2001, Rhode Island-based photographer Lisa Limer traveled to Syria on assignment for a leading travel magazine. When the photographs were, as she puts it, “at the printers, ready to run,” the story was abruptly shut down, and her breathtaking photographs of Syria were not published.

Looking back on the images she took in Syria, Limer can’t help but feel the ache of all that’s been lost in the last fifteen years and in the wake of civil war. “I know now that most everything that I photographed has been destroyed,” she admits, her mind whirling back fifteen years. She walked through Damascus and Aleppo, captured Homs before it was all but razed to the ground.

In 2015, close to the anniversary of her visit, the ancient city of Palmyra, which holds treasures dating back to centuries before the Common Era and was once held by the Roman Empire, was seised by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In the intervening year, ISIL would execute its prisoners at the ancient Roman Theatre at Palmyra; the 82-year-old archeologist Khaled al-Asaad would be interrogated regarding the locations of the site’s antiquities, and he would die safeguarding the information.

The Azm Palace, built during the Ottoman Empire, the Umayyad Mosque, considered one of the most holy sites in the world, and The Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, the single oldest remaining Byzantine church, still stand.

When asked if she felt nervous flying to Syria so many moons before the Civil War, Limer says simply, “I had no apprehension.” She trusted her own footing there, and although she made sure to dress according to the country’s conservative status quo—she was, in her words, “certainly aware of her womanhood”—Limer suggests that her gender was also an asset, allowing her to approach and photograph local women as they made their way throughout the cities.

Still, the photographer felt the tremors of a country in pain. “Even in 2001, you felt the sadness,” she explains, adding “In all my travels, I had never left a country feeling more depressed.” With a government guide watching over ever move she made, she witnessed the aftermath of conflicts and failed uprisings; her eyes lingered over “bullet holes and burnt out buildings.”

Limer reflects on her 2001 trip to Syria with melancholy and an inescapable longing for something that left many years ago: “This trip could now never be repeated. Regrettably, it is what makes this experience unforgettable.”

Limer’s work from Syria is represented by Offset.

Adrenaline Junkies and the Rise of ‘Adventure Tourism’ (Sponsored)

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Surfing on The Eisbach river, Munich © Alberto Bernasconi / Offset

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BASE Jumping in Moab, Utah © Gabe Rogel / Aurora Photos / Offset

When we think of “vacationing” as a verb, our minds go to white sand beaches and days spent languidly basking in the sunshine, but over the past five years, a new trend has the tourism industry by storm. Cruises are out of vogue; base jumping, spelunking, and deep sea diving are in.

“Adventure travel” took off full force in 2009, and four years later, the marked departure from the typical family holiday caught the attentions of The George Washington University and prompted the 2013 Adventure Tourism Market Study. According to their research, the industry of adventure travel, which includes scheduled activities like extreme sporting and outdoor exploration, has grown at a rate of about 65% each year. This year, travelers are hungrier than ever for new, uncharted destinations and adrenaline-pumping experiences.

Just a decade ago, traveling to remote locations to participate in risky, physically taxing activities like free-diving, mountain climbing, or parachute jumping was the sole territory of daredevils and backpackers. The increased yearning for overseas adventure comes mostly from the younger generation, those who are waiting longer to get married and have kids, those who are devoting more time to exploring and finding themselves by experiencing different cultures firsthand. What was once alternative has become mainstream.

Now that people are more aware of the importance of sustainability and conservation, resorts and lodges have taken into consideration the ecosystems of some of the world’s most precious areas, and instead of wiping away local traditions, they’re starting to embrace the value of learning from others. In honor of the summer season, we’ve pulled together some of the most astounding extreme travel photographs we could find, all sourced from Offset’s collection of high-end editorial and commercial imagery.

An Ode to the Classic American Roadside Motel (Sponsored)

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Half Moon Motel, Culver City, California © The Licensing Project / Offset

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 © Amanda Tipton / Offset

Half a century ago, photographers traversed the United States, capturing the elusive essence of the American Dream. They stayed mostly in roadside motels, where rooms were cheap and easy to find. Motels were the American wayfarer’s constant companion, their one and only refuge on long nights spent on the open road. Today, classic motels have mostly been replaced by brand-name hotel chains. For those free spirits and wayward souls who seek a slice of a bygone America, only a few survive as living relics of decades past. 

Documentary and Fantasy Collide in Electric Images of Shinjuku

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“To wander Shinjuku at night is presumably what an acid-trip feels like. It’s also a little at odds with how Japan is often seen; a conformist society that works hard and keeps itself in check. In many ways, the principal business in Kabukicho is to sell dreams, and then keep those dreams alive.”

Since first visiting Tokyo back in 2011, the semi-nomadic British photographer Tony Burns developed a fascination with this exciting, futuristic city. With no concrete idea regarding the narrative, Tony returned to Tokyo on multiple occasions to see what he could make of this metropolis and its neon lights, fast-paced lifestyle and ever-present electronica music. He found himself trying to capture this atmosphere in Shinjuku, particularly around the Kabukicho red light district.

Conservation Photography in the Age of Instagram (Sponsored)

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The salt flats of Badwater, Death Valley National Park © Aurora Photos / Offset

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Herd of Guanacos at Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile © David Tipling / Offset

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Tour group walking on a desert dune at Namib Naukluft National Park © Fotofeeling / Westend61 / Offset

Ever since the mid-19th century, when Carleton Watkins first embarked on his love affair with Yosemite, his stereoscopic camera and 18 by 22 inch glass plate negatives in hand, American and international photographers have had a beautiful but tumultuous love affair with their National Parks.

Watkins’s Yosemite photographs and those later made by Ansel Adams have helped to define our relationship with the environment. National Parks give us a glimpse into a pristine and idyllic slice of a national landscape, and in so doing, they inspire both conservation efforts, and paradoxically, unwanted attention. In addition to motivating new conservation efforts, Watkins’s photographs famously romanticized the construction of new industry throughout the American West, much of which was actually harmful to the environment.

Today, Yosemite has about half a million “followers” on Instagram. In December, New York Magazine’s Dan Nosowitz investigated and reported on the phenomenon of “Instagram Hikers,” or people who visit National Parks with the intention of sharing stunning, much-liked photographs online.

While the recently revived popularity of the parks have indeed encouraged people to become passionate about preserving our country’s resources for generations to come, some amateur photographers have interfered with the native wildlife and their natural habitats. Some litter; others try to take selfies with resident animals; a few even paint hashtags on historic rock faces.

In lieu of the resurgence of this 100-year-old debate surrounding National Parks and the people who photograph them— the serious environmentalist, the artist, the Instagram fan, and everything in between—we’ve pulled together a selection of some of the most breathtaking National Park images we could find.

This discussion extends far from the borders of the United States, reaching upwards to Canada, down to South America, and overseas to the distant corners of Africa, Europe, Asia, and beyond. These pictures capture parks around the globe, curated from the Offset collection of high-end, boutique photography and illustration.

Seeing the World Through Clotheslines, From Italy to China (Sponsored)

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Laundry in Havana, Cuba © Jeremy Woodhouse / Blend / Offset

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Laundry in Gothenburg © Johnér / Offset

Padding through the tight cobblestone alleyways of Venice, it’s common to see clotheslines connecting one house to its neighbor. Drying machines are rarities in Italy, and women of these historic homes take great pride in the meticulous hanging of their families’ garments. There is a proper way to air-dry everything from linens and undergarments, and much can be learned about one’s neighbors simply by the skill and etiquette displayed during laundry day, when the fragrance of detergent commingles with that of the salty canal.

Celestial Photos Make Planet Earth Look Like the Moon

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Flattop Mountain, Alaska

“It’s almost like the environment knows you’re there but doesn’t care,” says Anchorage-based photographer Kerry Tasker of the Alaskan terrain. The land is feral and ferocious; he’s dropped his camera from a perilous cliff, and the bitter cold has annihilated its batteries. Still, he’s been torn time and again from the safety of home into the rugged wilderness, standing cold and alone, under a charcoal sky dotted with faraway stars.

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