Meet the Travel Bloggers interviews travel blogger and photographer Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery.
When, why and how did you start your blog, Travel Photo Discovery?
I started Travel Photo Discovery end of March 2013.
How did you get that name?
I wanted to get a name that was memorable, but it was difficult to find something with travel and photo that doesn’t already a have copyright. Adding the word “discovery” gave me a way of using the popular words travel and photo combined. I was hoping that it would be an easy website address to remember if I had mentioned it to someone. They could remember it.
You split your time between Hawaii and San Francisco. Is there a specific time you’re in each or does it vary?
Most of my time frame is spent in Hawaii and I go back to San Francisco when flights are cheap and I’m in the mood to do more urban activities. Spring and fall are the best in the city weather wise and all the fun festivals.
Do you have homes in both places?
I have a home on the lush side of east Hawaii, on Hawaii Island in an area called Orchidland, and yes there are wild orchids that grow in this area. But it was created originally because of all the orchid farms that were located here. I also have a small condo in San Francisco.
If we went to visit where you live in Hawaii, what’s the one thing we wouldn’t want to miss?
The lava has been actively flowing from Kilauea and down through lava tubes in the ocean for over 25 years. It’s a must see to go to the national park or to the lava entry where it empties to the ocean.
Was photography your profession?
Originally I was in high tech and transitioned to freelance writing and photography. I love combining both of my passions into my travel photo blog which is fun and a creative outlet for my work.
For the photo geeks out there, what kind of camera(s) do you use?
I have a variety of Canons, 7D, T3I and T2I and a variety of lenses that I use for different purposes in portraiture, landscape, interiors, architecture, events.
Do you consider yourself more a photographer or a writer or is it balanced?
I am more of a photographer, but I write freelance for regional publications. I would love to combine both into the travel arena which is a new area that I have always been interested in but never done on a professional level. I’m hoping that writing more in the travel sector will give me an opportunity to use my blog and syndicate my photography and content.
What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
I like that there are rules and I can apply anything that is inspiring to me. I like to cover many aspects of travel including food, slow travel, people and culture, or anything interesting I come across while traveling. Blogging, for me, is a creative outlet to combine both my passions for travel photography and writing into one site. I love to experiment and be as creative as possible with this blog, presenting my own viewpoint, ideas and style.
Besides going between Hawaii and San Francisco, how often do you travel?
I take small regional trips regularly and then a big trip for a longer timeframe (one to two months) once a year.
Do you tend to travel solo or with others?
I love doing both. Solo when I really want to spend more time and explore a place on my own terms (it’s not easy traveling with a photographer that wants to walk around an attraction many times just to get the best angle and light). I also love to travel with friends to enjoy the camaraderie and shared travel experiences of traveling with close friends.
What excites you most about travel?
Travel opens up my eyes to new experiences, food, culture, transportation and observing people’s day to day interactions and lifestyles. The history, art, architecture and culture of each place really inspire my desire to visit and keep appreciating this gift of travel.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
I tend to go to places with historic value, world heritage sites and interesting history. I’m not a cruise or beachy type of person which is something I can easily do in Hawaii. I love urban travel but also the countryside if it’s outstanding or has historic value.
In terms of travel style do you tend to budget or luxury?
I am a combination of budget and luxury based on the amount of time that I decide to spend at a particular location. I’ve done a bit of home exchanges to save on accommodation and dining out. Shorter stays usually are a time to indulge in some of the nicer meals and accommodations. A photographer is always very flexible; finding the timing, light and access is more important to me above all other considerations.
Are you an adventurous traveler? Adventure to me is taking my camera into fun and uncharted areas, if I have to hike, bike or trek somewhere to get that amazing image, I’ll do it.
Is being in your comfort zone important to you
Comfort is nice, but most of my travel or solo travel is to be inspired by a destination. There is no limit on when I say no, except for rides that will make me dizzy.
You’re a member of the Boomer Generation. Has the way you travel changed as you’ve gotten older?
Not really. I love to travel more, spend more time exploring someplace that is on my bucket list. I think I’m more open to any type of experience with open eyes and admiration for travel in the places I visit.
What’s your most memorable travel experience ever?
It’s hard to really come up with the most memorable travel experience since every trip I take is unique and has been a great experience, overall. The most unusual trip for me was going to Morocco which was atypical of the climate, demographics, culture and lifestyle of any of my other travel destinations. Everything I saw, tasted and visited was unique and an eye-opening experience.
Even travel to close places is great because it makes you rediscover the beauty of where you live. I’m currently doing a whole series of posts about where I live in East Hawaii and the fun and simple things you can do on this island for free or inexpensively.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
That’s a hard question to ask a travel blogger, but my favorite place is actually where I live, but that doesn’t stop me from exploring more and more.
Where are you off to next?
I will be going to Eastern Europe to visit Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Turkey in the fall when the tourist season is over. I prefer traveling during the off season.
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list?
On my bucket list of where I would love to go are Nepal, Butan, Mt Everest, Sri Lanka and the Maldives if it’s all in that regional area. I hope to go soon!
Noel Morata is a freelance writer, photographer and artist. His blog Travel Photo Discovery mixes two passions, photography and writing. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Flickr and Pinterest.