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On location with photographer Jesse Morrow

travel photography - girls outside cafe in amsterdam

Travel photography is, to many, pretty much the dream job. Days spent exploring new lands through the lens of camera, all whilst getting paid for it – what could be more perfect, right?

To give you a true insight into the world of travel photography, and what it’s really like to shoot for a well known travel company like Contiki, we caught up with Jesse Morrow, a US based photographer who travelled to Europe to capture the beauty of Amsterdam and The Rhine Valley for Contiki’s Europe Summer 2016 brochure…

travel photography - guy sitting on tree in amsterdam

How did you first get in to photography?

I first got into photography by way of video.  When DSLR cameras became the commonplace tool for shooting video, I suddenly had access to photography as well.  For years I had an interest in photography but I just thought I wouldn’t be good or understand it so I never attempted.  After taking the plunge and shooting for a while I fell in love with both the process of taking still images, and the image editing process.

travel photography - girls outside a museum in amsterdam

Why travel photography?

Pairing photography with travel was a very natural process.  Growing up my parents gave my sisters and I the travel bug early on. Quite often we were taking road trips in our grey full size conversion van to visit relatives spread across the US.  I even had the opportunity to travel abroad a few times when I was younger.  The enticing nature of experiencing other cultures is one that’s very hard for me to resist. So, as I grew older I let that passion burn and become a priority.

travel photography - couple sitting on steps

What’s your creative process for shooting on location?

While shooting lifestyle and travel photos I hope to take a backseat of sorts and only step in when I see an opportunity for something specific.  Overall my favourite photos are ones that weren’t directed or produced but happened instinctively. These pictures are the most fun because no one is pressured to act a certain way. They produce the best results; something that is real and can’t be faked.

travel photography - group of friends on a canal in amsterdam

What were the highlights of your shoot with Contiki?

Being from the US, it’s always exciting for me to travel to Europe and be exposed to people and cultures that are outside of my everyday life.  The group of models on this trip were fun and worked well together.  They too were experiencing what I was, a some-what foreign place outside of the everyday norm.

Over the week we were shooting it was fun to see everyone start to get to know each other, and Interactions inevitably became more natural as we progressed. First traveling through the town of St. Goar, in Germany, it was hard to not be inspired by the local shops holding what seemed like endless amounts of clocks, clogs, and beer steins.

This lead up to my favourite day of shooting, in Edam, Netherlands. The charming town in North Holland is a must see for any travellers who visit the area.  We spent the day riding bikes through the streets and tree-lined paths along the water. Riding and shooting was quite a challenge for me but, minus a few spills, our group had fun and had the pleasure of enjoying the town.

travel photography - town of st goar in germany
A woman on a bike travels down a path surrounded by majestic trees, creating a perfect setting for stunning travel photography.

Any favourite images from the shoot?

Many photos were taken during my shoot with Contiki in Europe, but one from our time in Amsterdam really stands out to me.  Of course it happened to be taken on the last day of our trip, and the scene was just too perfect.  Two of our models were sitting outside a little cafe on a street in Amsterdam and I took the photo from inside of the shop. The foreground is laced with pastries while in the background bikers are gliding by. To me this sums up everything I could wish to capture; the location, models, and the feeling of being there at that exact moment.

travel photography - girls outside cafe in amsterdam

Why is photography such an essential part of the travelling experience?

For me, taking photos while traveling is essential because my curiosities tend to flair when I’m in new places. While I’m outside of any normal routine, place, or surrounding it becomes my prerogative to try to capture moments that hold those feelings and that place’s beauty. I think travel/lifestyle photography is natural and beautiful and can in turn encompass other types of photography such as landscape and portrait.

travel photography - couple walking in the fields in germany

What advice would you offer to other aspiring travel photographers?

For too long I felt the curiosity in photography and did nothing about it.  I knew others who were photographers so made excuses out of my insecurities.  My biggest advice for someone starting out would be to pick up a camera and start shooting.  If you’re really struggling on the technical aspects there are classes and tons of free videos online. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and know that it’s a slow process. Start taking more pictures, let your passion grow, and over time I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the result.

travel photography - girl holding flowers in amsterdam

You can check out more of Jesse’s work on his Instagram, or visit his website here.