Travels & Transitions
Ep. 12 — Photo Country with Rajeev — Interview with Susan Blick, Travel photographer & writer
About Susan Blick
Closing out Season 1 of Photo Country, I spoke to Susan Blick, an award winning travel and landscape photographer from Australia and New Zealand. Susan is currently based out of Istanbul, Turkey. Before COVID struck, she used to run regular photo tours to India, China, and to various regions of New Zealand. Susan Blick was also the NZ Geo landscape photographer in 2015 and at The Prix de la Photographie Paris in 2016, she was awarded gold in the travel and tourism category for the image the church of New Zealand’s Church of the Good Shepherd. More recently, her picture of a tui cloud over Mount Cook was celebrated on the internet.
Susan Blick had an early introduction to photography with her dad being a tourism photographer in the 80s. She got introduced to the film camera and the dark room, pretty early on. What really caught her fancy in her younger days was traveling around the world. Disappointed in the images she was getting from her point and shoot, she got herself a DSLR and that is when the real journey with travel photography began.
Transitions of necessity
I became an English teacher because I wanted to travel. You know what happens when the travel bug bites, you can’t stop traveling. So I needed to find a way to earn money and travel.
Susan went back to Australia to get an English teacher’s degree. So, she could get a practical way to fund her travels. Her teacher training skills had another unexpected benefit — her love for travel and photography morphed in to Susan offering photography workshops and tours — initially in New Zealand and then spread across India, China and South East Asia.
When the border closed down due to Covid and New Zealand went into lockdown, Susan was caught in an unexpected crisis. They were just ready to travel to Myanmar for a photo tour; they had closed out their apartment and sold their car. Susan and her partner moved down to the South Island having secured employment as a chef at a beautiful property in the heart of the South Island. This had unexpected dividends. She managed to capture a once-in-a-lifetime image of a Tui like cloud over Mt. Cook. This image went massively viral with over 7000 shares and every news outlet covering this image.
I’ve never seen a cloud form so perfectly like an animal before. This was the Gods smiling down on me. One of the luckiest days of my life.
I just can’t stop exploring. I’ve got an insatiable curiosity to go new places. And even if I go to the same place again, I like to delve deeper, the more often you visit somewhere, the deeper you get into that place. and yeah, it’s just some insights. Curiosity, I guess that makes you want to do these things.
Susan is driven by her curiosity to explore new lands and new cultures. For Susan, travel photography happens in the moment and spontaneous. In places like India, where life is happening in the street in front of you, she finds inspiration.
Like life is evolving. You’re living in the moment. often when I live in the west, Australia and New Zealand or wherever, I’m always thinking, ah, waiting for the weekend or for the holidays, or, I’m never leaving. In the now yet, as soon as you step into a city like Istanbul or new Delhi or Jakarta you’re right in the moment. I guess it’s just that need for stimulation and that provides photographic opportunity.
Having now moved to Istanbul, Susan is now traveling across some of the Balkan states of Europe and exploring some of the hidden treasures out there. With the increasing democratisation of photography through smart phones and social media, she feels there is definitely a negative impact on photography.
Instagram and influencers are ruining photography. I’m a great believer in not tagging the location of where I shoot if I find somewhere special because the amount of people that visit those places is detrimental to the places.
I asked her what her advice will be for a newbie photographer who is just getting into the game. Shoot everything is Susan’s mantra!
Oh, shoot everything, shoot it, everything. And see, see what you like before you buy too much gear. You know, you’re probably better off with, uh, um, it depends on your budget. Of course, if you’re got money, you can get a full frame to start, but, um, just get a reasonably cheap DSLR with a kit lens and shoot everything from portraits to landscape to architecture and see what you like first, you know, so many of us have wasted so much money on gear by buying the wrong kind of gear, you know, especially when it comes to lenses and even tripods.
That is certainly a sensible thought!
You can find Susan Blick’s work on her website — www.susanblick.com — you can follow her travels on instagram on her handle phomadic.