Travelling through the lens with photographer Matt Powell

Travelling through the lens - Guru India backpacking

What started your interest in travel photography?

I began taking photos about four years ago with my IPhone travelling around Vietnam. Looking back, it sounds pretty funny, but thankfully following that trip a good friend of mine encouraged me to invest in a Canon EOS600, which I still use today and I haven’t looked back. Back home in Australia I am actually a school teacher, so I am really fortunate to get overseas at least once, if not twice a year. Most of my friends are stuck working throughout the year, so I end up travelling by myself and wandering the streets, exploring and inadvertently taking photos. That’s how it all began.

Travelling through the lens - Backpacking Girl

What does travel photography mean to you?

For me photography and travel mesh perfectly. Photography encourages me to get up early or to go for that afternoon stroll, to get off the beaten track and to meet the locals in a unique manner. Over the last year I’ve done a bit of reading on Buddhism, and one of the main principles that I absolutely love, is to simply enjoy the moment.

Travelling through the lens - Backpacking India

In a Zen-type of way photography does exactly that, it forces you to live in the moment and not be distracted by the past, or the future, or the craziness of our thoughts. Walking the streets, I notice kids playing and laughing, old men sipping on cups of chai, women cooking at street stalls, the sunlight, the way the shadows fall across the street. All those beautiful but simple, everyday moments that we often neglect. It allows me to enter that flow state, just me and my camera.

Travelling through the lens - Backpacking in Vietnam

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

When it comes to advice for aspiring photographers I have three tips. First of all, don’t stress out about the technical side of things too much. Just head out and take photos, it’s all about the composition, developing ‘your eye’, the technical side will build naturally.

Travelling through the lens - India fishing

Taking photos is like playing sports in a way. It doesn’t matter if you have the best and most expensive gear, if you don’t have the basic technique right. Secondly, when doing street photography always do it with a smile and a friendly presence. I always have my camera out, so people know my intentions.

Travelling through the lens - India children

Often I’ll smile first or play games or give high fives to kids for example. This makes it much easier to get closer to the subject or to take portraits. For example, I recently took a portrait of a Sadhu along the Ganges river in Varanasi. This photo actually took a couple days in the making. I first befriended the Sadhu and one morning shared breakfast with him, as we chatted and got to know each other. As the comfort grew, I asked if he’d like to come on the boat with me where I could take his portrait, which he obliged. It was a cool experience and a step in the right direction for my own journey I believe.

Travelling through the lens - Vietnam

Last of all, I would encourage people to digest the work of other great photographers. Don’t spend your money on guidebooks or courses, rather spend it on the amazing publications of top photographers. Some of my personal favourites, which I have at home, are Sabastiao Salgago, Steve McCurry and Vivan Mier.

Travelling through the lens - India boy

I recently took a photo in Varanasi which reminded me of a photograph that Steve McCurry took in Jodhpur, India years ago. I had the exact photo in mind when I captured the shot because I had studied McCurry’s work.



His website can be found at

Authors Bio:

Matt Powell

Matt Powell is a travel photographer from Australia. Street photography enthusiast. Spreading good vibes one photo at a time. Matt started his love for travel photography whilst on a trip to Vietnam with a friend about four ago. Since then Matt skill and interest have just grown, enabling him to produce the interesting and beautiful photos we see today.

Instagram : @powellyparkroad