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Interview with Travel Photographer Trey Ratcliff

  • photo by Trey Ratcliff,
by Travis Snelling
From Photography
July 9, 2010

Many of us dream to be travel photographers but few of us can actually forge ahead and make it happen for ourselves. Trey Ratcliff is one success story that keeps being written. He's made a name for himself in the photography world and developed his own formula that sees him making a living from travelling all over the world taking photos. Not too shabby for a guy who's not formally trained in photography.

Recently I had the chance to talk to Trey about some of his favourite travel spots and some travel tips he can give from a photographer's perspective. Read on for my Q&A with Trey Ratcliff of

"The photo-adventures are invigorating for me perhaps the way "rest" is supposed to be. During periods of rest, I get restless."
Trey Ratcliff

Top 3 destinations you haven't been but are at the top of your list?

  1. Morocco
    The markets and culture looks unique and interesting... a welcome haven in an increasingly homogenized world
  2. Snow Hotel in Finland / Ice Hotel in Norway
    There are a bunch of these now, and they all sound awesome and unique
  3. A Train Across India
    Even though I've been to India, it's too huge to really experience in just one trip. I've heard of an old-world classic British train service that goes across the whole country. That sounds like a fun experience.

Weirdest airport experience you've had?

Almost every experience inside the US airports with security is an entirely forgettable piece of theater. I'm not a big fan of the TSA (Tub Stacking Authority).

The weirdest airport experience was in Kharkov, Ukraine. After getting off the plane on an icy tarmac, I got my bags out of the belly of the plane and started walking over to the terminal. There was a huge wall with a single door in it. It was clearly the only place to walk, and the dozen or so other passengers were trailing behind me. I planned on going into the terminal, using the bathroom, going through customs, and this sort of thing. But, upon opening the door and quickly going through it, I was suddenly outside again! There was no "inside". It was just a huge wall with a door. After emerging, I was surrounded by a semi-circle of surly-looking and aggressive taxi-drivers. I remained disoriented for quite a while, which is not a good condition whilst haggling with these sorts of characters.

Tips for getting through airport security with all that expensive camera gear?

I just have two bags. One is full of camera stuff and the other has my computer and other little toys. I've never had too much trouble with my stuff or my tripod. It takes a heck of a long time to actually get through security... but I just frown and bear it.

Some people want to climb Mt. Everest, some want to go on an African Safari. What's your ultimate dream trip?

I have dozens and dozens of dream trips, and I try to do a few a year. I just got done with a 2-week solitary drive around Iceland in the summer (when it never gets dark). I slept during the day, and stayed up all "night". 6 hour sunsets followed by 6 hour sunrises was just awesome. Another dream is to move to one of the most beautiful places in the world, so now I am relocating my whole family to the south island in New Zealand. Future dreams to be checked off the list include yachting through the Mediterranean, retracing Marco Polo's route, and taking HDR photos from space.

You seem to always be in these great far-off places - how much of your time is spent travelling throughout the year & how do you spend the rest of your time?

It varies, of course.... there is no regular pattern, so basing anything on a percentage of a timescale is not really a good way to describe it. If you are to ask, "How much time is spent traveling?" I must answer "not enough"! And, I don't rest much... The photo-adventures are invigorating for me perhaps the way "rest" is supposed to be. During periods of rest, I get restless.

Aside from camera gear, what are 3 things you can't travel without?

Inspiring music, high-quality chocolate, and a good book while I am waiting on the light to be right.

Of all the places you've been, which has the most awe-inspiring natural scenery?

It is a tie between Iceland and New Zealand. A sweet sweet tie!

For more information about Trey and his photography, visit him online at: and be sure follow his tweets @TreyRatcliff

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Travis Snelling icon

Travis Snelling

Travis Snelling is the cofounder of and is based in Toronto, Canada. When not stuck in the office wearing shoes he's out on adventures with his camera looking for new drinks, dishes and experiences.

Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: photography, history, culture, cuisine, adventure

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