Interview with Kimberley Coole: The colourful life of a travel photographer

UK based award winning travel photographer Kimberley Coole travels to create exciting stock imagery for Getty Images, within the Lonely Planet Images Collection.

How did you get into travel photography?

It was whilst I was on my honeymoon, we totally fell in love with Asia. When we got back, we sold our house and went backpacking taking the odd snap. But everyone commented on how good they were saying I should do it for a job, so I did!

How would you describe the style of your photos? What do you try and capture?

As a travel photographer, you have to cover all of your bases. There is no point just doing landscapes, you have to do it all. Say, in a city like Bangkok, there’s a bit of everything to shoot. There’s really no set style for a travel photographer. But my photos are always very colourful and bold, and I always try and stick to that and have some colour in each shot.

I suppose if you got into travel photography while on your honeymoon, then you can’t have had any formal training, was that a bit challenging?

Yeah no formal training or anything like that! But no not really, I think with photography you either have it or you don’t. You can learn the technical side of things, but that tends to come with time anyway.

On that note, what advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Just get out there and shoot! If you’re thinking about going into photography just pick a city and see what you can do. Travel photography is a bit different from portraiture or weddings, which you know are precious. Over the years you’ll probably build up a big enough library, the experience is really worth more than anything put together.

What’s been your favourite photo location do you think?

For personal reasons, I’d say Vietnam. I love the country, especially the north because I really like the tribal culture there and they’re so friendly. And they’ve got the best coffee in the world!

Could you tell us a bit more about the people you’ve met and why they’re so fascinating?

They’re just so colourful. The traditional dress is dying out a little bit now obviously, but it’s just so different to what we have here. Everyone wears the same clothes here, and then you go over there and all of a sudden people have got bright red headdresses or hug rings through their noses.

So would you say that getting to meet other people is perhaps the greatest part of your job?

Definitely! It’s not just meeting different cultures, but out on the road there is a select group of us that always run into each other, and so it’s strangely social. Not many other people travel as much as we do, it means that you can learn about places you’ve not been to before. Every city I go to I know a photographer, so I’m always catching up with people!

What is it like going from place to place? I suppose in some ways you’re a bit of a nomad.

We actually call ourselves that! You need a couple of years on the road with no home no nothing, just work. But after that, you can really pick and choose. This year for example, I haven’t done anything yet, because it’s the wrong time of year to be shooting Asia, which is primarily where I work. The more established you get, the less you actually have to travel.

What is it you ultimately want to show people with your images?

Just the desire to go and see it themselves. It’s nice to know that sometimes, you might be the reason someone travels half way across the world.

Katie Dawtry 

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