We had the had the pleasure of interviewing Lorella Castillo – a 20-year-old girl whose passion lies in photography. Her gorgeous photographs spark an immediate wanderlust in viewers, as they follow along on her travels around the globe. She captures exquisite landscapes and portraits which are instantly recongisable.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER? HOW DID YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY BEGIN?
Ever since I was a little girl, I grew up in an environment in which the arts and entertainment both played a huge role. Even though I was mostly inspired by my grandfather – a renowned artist – I was more oriented towards photography. It’s of huge importance to me mostly due to family background playing a key role. Being it a hobby, or a full-time career, I somehow always knew that I was destined to be working in the visual arts, which I am doing so at the age of 20. Any kind of art is a universal language one can use to communicate with. It’s truly amazing that when people see your shots, they are able to associate with and understand your style.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I believe that establishing a unique style is one of the most important factors when it comes to creating any kind of art. If you look at your surroundings and limit yourself to what everyone else sees, then you’ll only be able to capture what everyone else has already captured. It’s all about putting your own personality and vision into your work. My aim is to let people know straight away that the image is mine before they see my name. “You took something not so enjoyable to watch and turned it into a work of art.” This was a particular comment I once got from a stranger on the PALUMBO NO.6 DOCK image taken in Malta, which has in fact taught me a lot about my style. I love looking for the seemingly boring stuff with the aim of making it extraordinary – primarily with the use of different techniques, such as using reflections, having close interactions with locals and looking for the little details. I’m a strong believer in planning ahead, knowing exactly how I would be editing my photos at their point of capture.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE GEAR YOU USE FOR YOUR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY? WHAT IS TYPICALLY IN YOUR CAMERA BAG WHILE TRAVELING?
The fundamental and most important gear is a pair of eyes and an endless imagination. A lot of people think that if they invest in a better camera, they’ll be able to take better photos. A better camera won’t necessarily do a better job when there is an absence of love and thought in your work, but if there is, even the most basic of smart phones with a camera could showcase your creativity. Since this is not just my hobby as a travel photographer, but is also my everyday job, I cannot work with just a smart phone, so besides the eyes and imagination, my bag consists of; 2 Nikon bodies together with a variety of different lenses which all together cover the entire focal range. I also carry around extra batteries, a ton of SD cards, chargers, and a rain cover.
MENTION YOUR TOP PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH SO FAR AND WHY? DO YOU ALSO ENJOY GOING AROUND MALTA AND FINDING ITS OWN INTERESTING AREAS TO PHOTOGRAPH?
There are no top places – all of the countries I have visited had their own fascinating spots with their own top factors. My latest trip to the U.S.A and Canada had a lot to offer. One would expect to find me photographing the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon, and the Niagara Falls – which of course I did. However, there were far more interesting topics for me, such as the most astounding unique charisma the people I met had, in the hectic avenues of New York, on Brooklyn Bridge and on the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. U.S.A has given me a wide variety of interesting spots to capture, ones which are not synonymous to what Europe has to offer. In the past years, I have fallen hopelessly in love with spots like Russia’s cultural gems, the Scandinavian areas, the Alpine and mountain areas in Northern Europe, the little streets in Italy and the Scottish highlands. Not to mention that our own little country, Malta, is full of fascinating areas!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER?
My love for travel photography originated from my eagerness to experience new parts of the world. I enjoy telling stories of the destinations I visit and look forward to accompany them with visuals, ranging from beautiful skylines to everyday locals. If you love to capture anything other than the usual famous tourist attractions, sunsets and flowers, you might look strange to the everyday person. It is when I get the weirdest reactions from people watching me (usually laying on the floor) that I know I will be getting the best pictures. There were times where random passers by have offered to help me look for what they thought I had dropped or lost in a random water puddle; when I would actually be trying to capture a reflection from that same puddle. Getting to know new people, discovering new cultures, and looking for new areas to photograph quenches the element of mystery that fuels my love towards being a travel enthusiast and a photographer at the same time.
IT’S EASY TO SPEND ALL YOUR TIME BEHIND A CAMERA WHILE TRAVELING — HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO BALANCE YOUR WORK WITH SPENDING TIME ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING THE LOCATIONS YOU VISIT?
I don’t really manage to create such balance. The thing is, I experience and enjoy the locations I visit by photographing them, and it’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together. I love going out of my way to get the shots I want, usually having to pay extra or travel a few additional miles. The satisfaction I get from my work at the end of such trips makes it all worth the extra hassle.
DO YOU BELIEVE THE PHRASE ‘A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS?’
100%, YES! When words fail, photographs speak. At least, this is the way it works for me. I love that it allows me to express my own thoughts in a uniquely personal way which is the style that I have built throughout my journey. Even if one chooses to photograph a very basic object, such as a pencil, the way it’s photographed tells a whole lot about their style. I hope that in 60 years, when I am old and wrinkly, I will be able to look back at my photos and let the 20-year-old me speak through them.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES FOR A GOOD TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPH AND WHAT ARE A FEW TIPS YOU WOULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO PURSUE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY?
Let’s face it – just about anyone can take a nice picture of the Julian Alps on a misty morning, and on a clear day, the bright New York skyline is a spectacular, but effortless objective for everyone who happens to be carrying a camera. A beautiful travel photo – like any great photo – tells a story. It engages a viewer’s imagination and has a mysterious power that attracts the eyes. If you truly want to make the most of your travel photography, make the most of your journey and think ahead. If you’re heading to a part of the world that’s new to you, make sure to do your research on the place, the culture, and the people, as this will give you the knowledge which you can use to understand the adventure unfolding before your eyes. Get off of the main roads. Get up early, do not waste time, and look for the perfect light. Don’t be afraid to dedicate enough time to what you choose to photograph, the most obvious angles and compositions are not necessarily the best. Prepare for the unexpected, especially on the streets, and don’t get mad when it rains; it offers super reflections!
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TO TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY?
I am planning new trips to Morocco, Brazil, Argentina and Greece in the coming months. Other than these, I will take on any other opportunity to travel for as long as I can. As you would expect a 20-year-old to say, my main priorities and goals in life on this day are mainly focused around combining my two main passions; travelling and photography. Learning and improving in your own field is never enough. Life is short and the world has so much to teach me, and whatever it has to offer, I sure hope I will be able to take it.
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine – Lorella Castillo