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Posts tagged: travel photography

In Defense of the ‘Little Person, Big Landscape’ Instagram Trend (Sponsored)

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Rock spur, Chiesa in Valmalenco, Lombardy, Italy © Dirk Wüstenhagen / Westend61 / Offset

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Sand Dunes, Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil © Ronald Patrick / Offset

Half a year ago, National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin and writer Grayson Schaffer coined the term “Little person, big landscape!” to describe the kind of picture that appeals to the masses of the Instagram era. We’ve all seen it; a sole figure is dwarfed by a mountain, a forest, a vast expanse of wildflowers or snow. The genre (if we can call it that) is definitely having a moment right now. There’s even a hashtag on Instagram- #tinypeopleinbigplaces– with nearly 80,000 posts. In the wrong hands, it can seem cheap, even trite, but there’s one reason it isn’t going away: when done well, there’s nothing like it.

In defense of “Little person, big landscape!” we’ve pulled together this exhibition of breathtaking images from the Offset collection. Taking us on a journey from Italy to Jordan, Bolivia to Iceland, these pictures take a well-known trope and turn it into something more.

Exploring the Vast Beauty of Western Mongolia

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John Feely’s The Outsider is a record of the artist’s time spent in Western Mongolia. A place chosen for its remoteness, vast size and traditional culture, Feely selected a town, and with little plan or particular agenda, made travel arrangements. Without a language in common, relationships were forged silently, the expansive drama of the Mongolian landscape serving as a backdrop for the minutiae and tenderness of human relationships.

Mystery and Magic In the World’s Swimming Holes (Sponsored)

A women cools down in a river.

Appalachian Trail, Connecticut © Aurora Photos / Offset

A swimmer wades in the water of a sea cave in Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California.

Sea cave, Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, California © Robert Benson / Aurora Photos / Offset

There’s something special about swimming holes. They’re private, secret, and mysterious in a way that borders on the clandestine. A telling entry from Urban Dictionary defines “swimming hole” as the following: “A natural body of water used by all the cool kids in a given area. Uncool kids aren’t welcome there.”

Whoever penned that humorous description was onto something. Do a quick internet search of swimming holes around the world, and you’ll see the ones that appeal the most to travelers are those that are hidden from preying eyes. The ancient Hawaiians understood it. The Queen’s Bath in Kauai was for many years the sole territory of the royals, who were thought to have been born from a divine and sacred line. The allure of swimming holes lies in part in their exclusivity.

It’s easy to see why swimming holes are among the most coveted places on earth. Some of them are so bewitching they look like they’re from an entirely different planet. In Havasu Falls, for instance, the water is rich with magnesium and calcium carbonate, which set it aglow with an uncanny turquoise tinge. At Wadi Shab mountain ravine in Oman, the nearby date and banana trees make the hot air as fragrant as the deep green waters are beautiful. Others were carved from igneous rock formations, forged from hot lava.

We combed through Offset’s collection of work by international photographers to find the most exquisite depictions of the world’s swimming holes, from Italy to California, Iceland to Puerto Rico. Some are well-known, and others are a bit more low-key and hidden. At the risk of exposing all their secrets, we present them here, for your enjoyment.

Get Lost in Alleys Around the World (Sponsored)

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Osaka, Japan © Bongsub Kim / Offset

Lamu village on Lamu island in Kenya

Lamu Island, Kenya © Anthony Lanneretonne / Offset

The English word “alley” derives from the Old French verb “aler,” meaning “to go.” By their very definition, then, alleyways are places to be left behind on the way to someplace else; they’re never the destination in and of themselves. But what if they were?

For this group show, we combed through the Offset photography collection in search of alleys so beautiful they begged us to linger for a while longer. These pictures span the globe, taking us from Italy to Japan, Kenya to the Czech Republic. They are photographed under the warm, glittering sun and beneath the eerie shroud of darkness.

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. 

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