interview travel

An Interview With Photographer Jon Collins

4/17/2016Jake Ryan

Instagram has quickly become my favourite social media platform. Visually stunning and filled with a variety of inspiring people from across the world, after spending a few hours on the app it'll be hard not to be hooked. 

Instagram is where I recently discovered the work of photographer Jon Collins. Jon runs the Instagram account easternsuns and posts some incredible photos. 

Quickly taken in by his photos, I reached out to Jon to talk about his photography and future. 

See what Jon had to say.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I am a 24 year old climate scientist and geographer by education; and an explorer, traveller and creator by lived experience. I currently reside in the sunny city of Sydney, Australia but in the last few years have questioned whether it truly is my ‘home’ as I struggle being bound to a place for too long. I currently work full time in corporate sustainability, helping companies to reduce their impact on the planet. At the same time, I pick up freelance work as a photographer and writer for various print and digital publications that specialise in travel or socially focused content. In many ways, I’m just an ordinary guy caught between the rigid rules in science and the fluid portrayals of art.

When did you get into photography?
I bought a Nikon D40 at the age of 19 before my first trip to Japan. I would say I hadn’t acquired the eye for photography yet but was amazed at the number of things that caught my attention. Over the next few adventures after Japan, I found myself experimenting more with manual settings, shooting different subjects and mustering the courage to ask people for their photograph in public places, and my skills began to grow. Travel undoubtedly allowed me to get better as a photographer and writer, as I had the time and the inspiration to experiment every day.    

Are you self-taught or have you studied photography?

Your photos are absolutely stunning, how long does it take for you to get the perfect shot? Is it a lot of planning?
The aim in all my photographs is to capture real moments, interactions and emotions. Little planning goes into this form as nothing can be right or wrong. I simply capture what I see or what I’m feeling in that moment in time.  

What equipment do you shoot with? 
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with the 12-40mm PRO lens, 25mm, 45mm and 75mm prime lenses. I also use a DiCAPac casing for my underwater shots.  

Do you spend a lot of time on the editing process, and what do you edit with?
This depends on the platform and the style that I or a client/ brand want for publications. My editing style used to be very minimal and I would barely retouch photos, but now I tend to play a lot with VSCO filter packs on Lightroom to tweak colours and grains. I tend to go towards film style filters, and look for tones that emphasise the image more.

Looking through your Instagram account, it’s pretty clear you’ve been on some amazing trips. What’s been your favourite?

I think this one is difficult to answer because every country has a unique essence and the number of stories and experiences are impossible to count. My top three countries that I’ve travelled are Ethiopia, China and Yemen. When I travel, I seek destinations that are timeless or rich in history, traditions, culture or unique landscapes. Some of my most memorable:

·         Socotra Island – Yemen
·         Ilha de Mocambique – Mozambique
·         Kyoto – Japan 
·         Cherrapunji Vine Bridges – India
·         Stone Town, Zanzibar - Tanzania

Who/what inspires you? 
My main inspiration comes from people. This is not specific to certain groups or people I have met, but more so from the feeling that in a planet of seven billion people, there is an infinite number of stories to tell.   

I’m always inspired by many mediums and platforms: photography, writing, illustration, film, documentaries, graphic design and music. I specifically look at journalism and photojournalism projects or stories that cover war, environmental and social issues as well as those that shed light on the many injustices of the world. These photographers and writers dedicate their lives to telling stories from corners of the planet that we would know so little about without evidence. It is ideally, where I would love to take my photography as I am most inspired by truth. When an artist or their work captures a truth in a time or place, it is an incredibly beautiful thing.  

What other passions do you have besides photography?
I would say food appreciation is my favourite passion, both the eating and cooking parts. I can never resist a Vietnamese phở (noodle soup) or bánh mì (pork roll) for lunch, and am a lover of Japanese, Malaysian and Middle Eastern fare. I love trying out new restaurants, cuisines and fusion styles as I love seeing how different flavours work or mix together, and always try to incorporate that in my cooking.

To counterbalance all the eating, I am also an extremely active person, so love unwinding at the gym, functional training, swimming or jogging. I’m always outdoors on weekends, trying to swim in the ocean as much as possible, and also love camping.   

And finally what do you have planned for the rest of 2016? 
I’ll be in Tokyo next month with a brand I’m very excited to collaborate with. It’s my fourth time to the country and Japan holds a special place in my heart as it was my first country abroad. I’ll be there with a talented group of bloggers, photographers and creators each with a different style, so it will be an excellent opportunity to learn and grow further as a photographer and writer.

As for other plans: I’m currently building a strategy towards a longer term travel project with a focus on environmental issues, I’m putting together a blog for my site and I’m also hoping to relocate next year to South America, so I’ll be sitting in language classes, doing my TEFL and trying my best to sit still and save.  

Thanks Jon for taking the time to speak to TravelFoodFilm.

Find Jon on Instagram HERE and be sure to give him a follow.   

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