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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Global Digital Explorer

Photographer Jeff Hall infuses his travel photography with context and story

The day had been a long and painful one for Jeff Hall. It had started with the amateur photographer full of anticipation because he and his traveling companions were going to have the opportunity to visit a Berber camp in Morocco. An ethnic group in northern Africa, the Berbers offered the promise of some exciting photographs. Hall likely had images of Lawrence of Arabia flashing in his mind as he mounted his mode of transportation, a camel.

The reality didn't end up resembling the fantasy.

"I had always thought that the idea of camel riding was very intriguing," Hall says. "It turns out to be just downright painful."

Although such an arduous trip can leave a person thinking of only a flat surface to sit on and a hot meal, Hall wasn't interested in snapping a couple of flash pictures to merely document what was around him. He wanted to create something special and different.

"By the time we arrived, it was dark. The tents were all set up and the fire was going. After dinner, they had some dancers come out. So I took my mini-tripod and set it up on the carpet and held the shutter open for about a minute or so."

The image was definitely a keeper. Yet it wouldn't be the only time Hall would come through adversity to create beautiful photographs.

An Amateur's Journey
Hall is a travel photographer who strives to make his photographs more than just a collection of pretty pictures. He works hard to tell stories with his images, to reveal something unique about the places he visits and the people he meets.

While as an amateur photographer he may not enjoy the access and the prestige of a National Geographic shooter, Hall is always searching for a way to create a photograph that truly communicates a special sense of place, whether he's traveling in Morocco, Nepal, the Galápagos or China.

"I got interested in photography at a very young age," says Hall. "My dad had an old Exakta camera and when he moved on to a Topcon with a built-in meter, he gave me the Exakta and I started shooting with that."


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