Discovering the diverse Canary island through the eyes of a travel photographer.
She’s Mercedes discovered the various faces of the Canary Island Tenerife with Frankfurt-based art director and travel photographer Sarah Pour.
Sarah Pour has always known that she wanted to work in the field of arts – and got a degree in Art Direction. Being a travel photographer, however, wasn’t her fixed plan. It started quite naturally as she’s always travelled a lot and visually documented her adventures. She’s talking light-heartedly and openly about her career while we slide carefully through the curvy roads in a silver Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Seeing the countless banana plantations, the hot desert of Teide National Park with its famous volcano and the spectacular sunsets at Benijo pebble beach on the island’s north coast while watching Sarah capturing the beauty of this diverse landscape, it becomes clear she found her dream job.
What words of motivation would you give to young photographers who just start their careers?
My first advice to a beginner would be not to take criticism too personally. Many people will give you feedback on your work, and whether it is positive or negative, you need to find the balance between whose advice you should take to heart and whose not. And the most important advice would be: shoot, shoot, shoot! Practice is key and the more you go out and take photographs, the better you will become over time.
As a female photographer, do you face certain stereotypes?
Sometimes it is difficult to tell if I am treated differently as a woman, since I have no opposite experience to compare it to. What strikes me though, is that female Instagrammers who publish “stereotypical” photos of a female traveller (usually being a model rather than a creator) get more positive feedback on their photos (in the form of likes and comments) than a female photographer who takes a different, proactive approach. I take pictures of myself as well, but as a creator and a photographer I would like to see more women step out of this stereotypical and passive role.
How do you prepare for a trip, especially in terms of photography?
Before I go on any trip, I always check out the destination I am visiting in order to make an exact plan. The biggest challenge here is not to have your expectations too high, because of the photoshopped unrealistic pictures we see online nowadays. We all had that – on pictures a certain place looks like a lonely paradise, but in real life it is hoarded with tourists, trash and doesn’t resemble the filtered social media version of itself. This is why it is important to keep the expectations low – this way you don’t get disappointed, as well as probably even get pleasantly surprised. Landscape photography fills an important part of my portfolio, nevertheless I prefer photographing people and the adventures they are having. People always make the pictures more vivid, more alive.
The most important element in my pictures is light.
What do you pay most attention to when taking a picture?
The most important element in my pictures is light. I always arrange my compositions around the light and shadow play. Sunsets and sunrises are the best time to take landscape shots – but sometimes even a midday cloudy weather can add a dramatic effect to the picture.
What are the essentials you always take with you on a trip?
My camera and my camera equipment are with me on every trip. That includes a collection of lenses and a drone – when drones are allowed in the country I am visiting. Other important items are the headphones and an interesting book. These two I use mostly on the flight or even when I need some “me time”. Other than that, I always have a beanie and jacket with me. Travelling often taught me that one needs to be prepared for all kinds of weather.
What is your favourite way of travel?
Without a doubt, I prefer travelling by car. Whether it is me and my boyfriend’s van or a rental car in some distant location – travelling by car equals freedom for me, since you are so flexible and can decide where to go and when to stop, without timetables and restrictions.
I prefer having a good conversation partner over travelling solo.
Do you prefer travelling alone or with other people?
When travelling to new destinations, I definitely prefer the company of another person. It can be challenging sometimes, when I am in need of some alone time, but still I prefer having a good conversation partner over travelling solo. There is an excellent quote by Christopher McCandless which reflects my own thoughts: “Happiness is only real when shared.” On the rare occasions when I indeed take a trip on my own, I catch myself thinking: “I wish my boyfriend/a friend would be here so I could share this experience with them.” Needless to say, it is very important to travel with people who are on the same page as you, especially when it comes to conversations and quiet time.
Do you ever get tired of the nomadic lifestyle?
Constant travelling can get really exhausting – morally and physically. There are moments when I prefer to be by myself and just relax. But then the feeling passes and I am ready to hit the road again.
Speaking of hitting the road: how do you like Tenerife?
After three days I must say that Tenerife was overall a very memorable experience. My top favourite moment was driving through the scenic Teide National Park, transiting from the sunny over-the-cloud hot desert into the eerie foggy forest beneath. The weather changes constantly here and you never know what to expect in the next 10 minutes – wind, sun or fog. That was indeed a very unique trip and I can only recommend it to anyone.
Thank you, Sarah. It’s been a pleasure travelling with you!
This interview was conducted as a collaborative effort by Bell Collective and She’s Mercedes.