Interview with Travel Photographer Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson is an award-winning photographer from Australia. His work has been featured in several prominent magazines, including National Geographic, Lonely Planet and l’Espresso.

Craig specializes in Asian photography. His art showcases the beauty, essence and diversity of Asia and her people.

I discovered Craig’s photography shortly after my move to Taiwan in 2006. While Craig is artistically diverse in his photography, it’s the magic of his portrait work that captured my heart three years ago. In particular, it was his portrait of a Taiwanese Beauty that first brought me into his world of photography.

Since then, I’ve become an avid reader of his photography tutorials and have found them incredibly helpful and informative.

MSW: Hi Craig. Thanks for joining us on My Several Worlds. It’s a pleasure to feature you for our first interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself? When did you first become interested in photography?

Craig Ferguson: Thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your site, Carrie. I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember. I started with a Kodak 110 when I was pretty young, maybe 5 or 6. I used to take pictures of everything. I later moved onto SLR with old Yashica and Cosina manual cameras. It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I first got a camera that had auto modes.

CFImages_Hualien_F0509-9049_50_51

Chishintan, Hualien

MSW: How did you get started in the business of travel photography?

Craig Ferguson: I fell into travel photography by accident. In the process of putting together a portfolio, I discovered that most of my photos fit the travel category, so that’s where I found myself. I still take travel shots, and with my love for travel I will continue to do so, however I’m trying to move away from being just a travel photographer.

I’m focusing more on commercial and conceptual images at the moment. I have a few projects in various stages of planning and shooting that are far removed from what I have shot up until now.

MSW: You’ve been living in Taiwan for several years now. What inspires your passion for this country? How have your experiences in Taiwan affected you on a personal level?

Craig Ferguson: Yeah, it’s coming up on 6 years now. Time passes quickly because it sure doesn’t feel like that long. Taiwan is a great place to live. For me, I see it as a mixture between the east and the west, which sits well with me.

It has all the “exotic” culture that we Westerners usually think of as being Asian, plus it has the modern lifestyle, and technology that make it a fully-developed country. Even after 6 years, I still find new little gems regularly; places and events that surprise and inspire me.

CFImages_RainbowBridge-5153-55hdrsm

MSW: What kind of gear do you pack when you’re on the road?

Craig Ferguson: It depends. As a minimum I’ll take a lightweight kit consisting of 2 DSLR bodies, 1 wide zoom, 1 telephoto zoom and a 50mm prime, plus the assorted accessories, chargers etc. For a more complete photo trip, I’ll also have a couple of lights, some wireless triggers to fire them, a tripod, light stand, laptop etc. I have a few different bags. I take whichever one best fits everything.

MSW: What are some of your favorite photography sites?

Craig Ferguson: Are we talking about sites as in places or websites? For places, it’s hard to beat the Himalayas, and the Indian subcontinent. There is so much color, vibrancy and life to be seen. In Taiwan there are a lot of little oddities that are very cool. I’ve got a lead on a very cool place that I hope to photograph soon.

My favorite photography websites include Joe McNally and Chase Jarvis. I’ve just started reading a great concert photography site by a guy named Todd Owyoung.

Innocence by Craig FergusonMSW: Do you have a favorite photograph from your collection? Any memorable travel moments you’d like to share with us?

Craig Ferguson: My favorite photo is one I haven’t taken yet. I can’t really say I have a favorite from my collection, because I like different ones for different reasons. I’ll let you choose some of your favorites for this interview instead.

As for memorable moments, there have been so many. It’s hard to know where to start. To name a few: I’ve been bitten by a shark while surfing at Nias, Indonesia; seen the new year in at a psychedelic trance party in Goa, India; been invited into a private meeting with the Dalai Lama in a Thai temple; gone diving on WW2 shipwrecks; wandered through some very remote Cambodian Angkor-era temples that are a few hours travel time away from the main ones.

MSW: Which countries have you traveled to? Which one was your favorite? Which country had the biggest emotional effect on you?

Craig Ferguson: I’ve been to Australia, Taiwan, Fiji, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Bangladesh, Tibet, India and Nepal.

I’m not sure which country was my favorite, but India probably had the biggest emotional effect. If you’ve been there you’ll know what I mean, if you haven’t been there’s no way to adequately describe it.

Angkor by Craig Ferguson
Angkor by Craig Ferguson

MSW: I really liked your Visions of Angkor story. Can you talk us through the process of shooting this story?

Craig Ferguson: I’m glad you like it. I first went to Angkor in 2002 and returned in 2006 so I had plenty of photos to use. A lot of blogs and travel sites talk about places through the writer’s feelings, so I decided to do something a little different.

Random readers probably don’t really care about every little thing I did, ate or felt, they just want to see some pretty pictures and maybe learn a little background information.

MSW: You have some incredible black and white imagery in your portfolio, especially of Tibet. Could you tell us why you decided to shoot your Tibet series in black and white?  Is there a market for this kind of photography?

Craig Ferguson: Tibet is in black and white because low-res scans don’t reproduce colors all that well in my experience. I only shot one or two rolls of black and white in Tibet – the images in that series were mostly converted in Photoshop.

The ones with the black sky are meant to give an Ansel Adams kind of look. They were all done in Photoshop. The ones which look greyer were scans from Tri-X. There is a market for this type of image, but it’s not an area I really focus on so I don’t know too much about the ins and outs of it.

MSW: What are the most important qualities that a travel photographer needs to succeed? What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Craig Ferguson: In terms of getting the right shot, patience is probably the biggest trait a travel photographer needs. Whether it’s sitting in the cold waiting for the sun to rise over a distant mountain, or getting stuck in a dusty, smelly train station in rural India waiting for a train that’s running 12 hours late, patience is the key.

For success in the sense of making a living, business and marketing skills are a lot more important than photography skills.

It doesn’t matter how good your photos are. If you can’t market them and sell them, you won’t make any money. On the other hand, someone who takes average photos but is a whizz at marketing will probably do well for themselves.

  • For aspiring photographers, I’d recommend that they learn the basics first.
  • Learn about aperture, shutter speeds and lighting.
  • Shoot manually for a few months until it becomes second nature. Never use an on-camera flash if it can be avoided.
  • Try holding the camera in one hand and the flash at arms length away in the other.
  • Don’t get caught up in getting the latest and greatest camera gear because unless you shoot professionally, the basic entry-level DSLRs and mid-range digi-cams will be fine for 99% of photographers.

 

Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

32 thoughts on “Interview with Travel Photographer Craig Ferguson

    Joanna

    (February 14, 2009 - 1:18 pm)

    This is a great article Carrie. It is very well written and does an excellent job of showcasing Craig’s superior photography.

      Carrie

      (February 14, 2009 - 7:41 pm)

      Hi Jo. Thanks! When things start to settle down for you, I’d love to feature some of your work here. Jia you jia you! You’re almost done! 😉

    Todd

    (February 14, 2009 - 2:08 pm)

    Great interview Carrie! Can we expect this to be a regular feature?

    Todd’s last blog post..Daily Photo – Shrimp

      Carrie

      (February 14, 2009 - 7:19 pm)

      Hey Todd.Yep. I’m hoping to make this into a regular thing. Craig was the perfect person to set the ball in motion with.

    Ron in L.A.

    (February 14, 2009 - 2:43 pm)

    Nice interview, good stuff… 😉

    R(etc… )

    Ron in L.A.’s last blog post..Bzzzzzzzzz… Too… for Valentine’s Day

      Carrie

      (February 14, 2009 - 7:37 pm)

      Thanks Ron. It would be great to feature your photography here one day as well!

    Brunty

    (February 14, 2009 - 4:32 pm)

    Carrie, excellent interview. I have really enjoyed it. I love Graig’s work. MJ put me onto his site a while ago but sadly I don’t get to it as much as I would like. His photography is second to none and his helpful tips and information is a blessing to novices like me.

    I also think that your photography is excellent. Your website is very professional and a pleasure to visit and read the top quality articles you produce. Thanks for sharing and I will try and get back more regularly.

    Brunty’s last blog post..Macha Bucha Day, Isaan Thailand 2009.

      Carrie

      (February 14, 2009 - 7:39 pm)

      Hi Brunty,
      Life takes over sometimes. I missed out a lot this year while getting ready for the wedding. It’s great to come back and feel like you haven’t missed a step. I just had a little extra reading to do when I got back. Thanks for your compliments. Drop by when you can. I’d rather hear that you’ve had success with the Cool Running Program. Good stuff. Way to go!

    Dale

    (February 15, 2009 - 11:51 am)

    Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for the work on this interview! I have admired Mr. Ferguson’s Taiwan photos for a while now, and am now inspired to check out his tutorials, not to mention take the camera out a little more often.

    Hope all is well!

    Dale

    Dale’s last blog post..Radio Taiwan International Chatroom

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:04 pm)

      Hi Dale,

      I haven’t heard from you in awhile. I promise to stop in and poke around for a bit later on this week. I’m glad you like Craig’s interview. Like you, I’m a huge fan. I found his tutorial on taking photos of fireworks particularly useful for New Year’s Eve. Every time I stop by his site, I’m inspired to try new and different things.

    Ashish

    (February 15, 2009 - 2:10 pm)

    This is marvelous Carrie. One of thing I absolutely dig is how other photographers go about their craft. I also read natalie’s ‘ Whats in your bag and even Flickr’s own 5 Questions series but although very intersting they tend to be little “structured”. I would like to read more interviews like this whcich has more personal touch.

    Craig has been fantastic over the years covering loads of places in Taiwan and Asia. One of the things I admire about Craig is his willingness to share all the details and willingness to help even a novice like me with photography. He is one of the nicest photographer I know. Talking about my favorite work of his is of course the Angkor series but one of his powerful marlboro man portrait hit home with me.

    This will be really interesting series Carrie. Wish to see lots of Taiwan photographers featured in it. Way to go 🙂

    Ashish’s last blog post..Strawberries in Puli

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:10 pm)

      Hi Ashish,

      I’m glad you like the interview. I have a few other interview ideas up my sleeve. I’m hoping to introduce some of the photographers, not just photographers in Taiwan, who stand out with their art and who are willing to share their stories and ideas. Craig’s willingness to help other photographers is one of the things I admire about him, too. When I bought my camera, I sent several emails to Craig with specific questions and thoughts. I was so impressed that he took the time to respond to each and every one. That’s one of the reasons why I chose him to be the first interview on My Several Worlds. I think he’s building a great reputation for himself, not only as a highly-skilled photographer, but as an instructor who is patient and kind.

    cfimages

    (February 15, 2009 - 2:14 pm)

    Thanks for the interview and feature Carrie, and thanks to everyone for taking the time to check out my work.

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:11 pm)

      My pleasure, Craig. Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions!

    Stevo | China Travel

    (February 15, 2009 - 8:01 pm)

    Great interview, Carrie. Craig is a wonderful photographer and inspiration. Hopefully my images will be the same ballpark as his one day.

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:11 pm)

      Steve,
      I think you’re well on your way to being a phenomenal photographer. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Links February 16 2009 - David on Formosa

    (February 16, 2009 - 12:49 am)

    […] Taiwanderful Blog Awards interview with Mandarin Scholarship Taiwan. Carrie interviews Craig Ferguson. […]

    Sandy

    (February 16, 2009 - 2:32 am)

    This is a fantastic interview, with two of my favorite bloggers. 😉 Craig is really an inspiration for an aspiring photographer like myself. I didn’t know Craig had tutorials on his website. I’ll have to go check them out.

    Carrie, I think this is a great feature to add to your blog. I love that you integrated photos right into the post. Btw, I copied you and got myself a Rebel last month. Hopefully I will have some decent photos to share when I get back from New Zealand!

    Sandy’s last blog post..London at Night

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:13 pm)

      Hi Sandy,
      Thank you! I’m glad we were able to point you in the right direction for extra tips and advice. Congratulations on the purchase of your Digital Rebel. Oh, you’re going to have fun! I can’t wait to see your photos and read about your adventures in New Zealand!

    Expatriate Games

    (February 16, 2009 - 4:47 am)

    Excellent work Carrie, both you and Craig. I love his subtle HDR work. I am so happy you found me and in turn I have found you and a lot of great links! I will come back when I can give it the proper amount of time and I subscribed today too.

    That Stumble sight looks fun too!

    Expatriate Games’s last blog post..A Hot Valentines Day

      Carrie

      (February 16, 2009 - 2:15 pm)

      Michael,
      I admit it. I found you through Stevo. He’s mentioned you several times and I can’t believe I waited so long to check out your site. Your portrait series is incredible. I’m really looking forward to spending more time on Expatriate Games.

    […] to choosing your favorite child.  How do you do that?   I recently read Carrie Marshall’s interview with Taiwan based photographer Craig Ferguson, in which he said “My favorite photo is one I […]

    […] My Several Worlds interviews travel photographer Craig Ferguson. […]

    Adrian

    (February 18, 2009 - 2:39 pm)

    Carrie,

    Great to read an article on Craig, I am lucky enough to know Craig and his great artistic work. Interesting to learn some more about him and hope that he truely gets the success that he deserves in his new venture.

    Regards
    Adrian

    Adrian’s last blog post..Orange

      Carrie

      (February 18, 2009 - 2:43 pm)

      Hi Adrian,

      Yes, I know who you are! Lost in Khaoshiung’s photostream is one of my favorites on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope we get a chance to meet sometime.

    Soultravelers3

    (February 21, 2009 - 5:22 pm)

    Thanks for stopping my our site that led me here to your beautiful site! I really enjoyed this interview and loved the photos!

    I am looking forward to the SE Asia phase of our open ended world tour, although we go slow and long stays in Africa and South America will come next.

    So much of this wonderful world to see!

    Soultravelers3’s last blog post..Family Travel Photo-Sweden!

    Erica

    (February 22, 2009 - 7:59 pm)

    Thanks for a great interview Carrie. I also love Craig Fergusons images, first discovered his photos last year.

    And by the way, I love his mindset on favorite pictures. “My favorite photo is one I haven’t taken yet.”

    Erica’s last blog post..Why London?

    michelle G

    (February 22, 2009 - 9:05 pm)

    great article carrie. I enjoyed his photos.

      Carrie

      (February 23, 2009 - 1:20 am)

      Hi Michelle,
      Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Krzysztof

    (March 7, 2009 - 10:48 am)

    You have a lot of talents. The interview is very proffesional. When I read it I saw you put a lot of work into this article. It’s really well done. Like other I enjoyed it.

      Carrie

      (March 11, 2009 - 5:31 am)

      I’m glad you liked it. Look for another one this month from one of my favorite Lonely Planet authors.

    TJ McDowell

    (August 28, 2010 - 2:51 pm)

    The Taiwanese picture is amazing. Love the colors.
    .-= TJ McDowell´s last blog ..Top 10 Wedding Videographers =-.

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