Almost everyone takes photos when they travel – especially to Asian countries, which tend to be very colorful, vibrant, exotic and smiling faces abound. With most people now having a high-quality camera in their pocket, photo-sharing sites like Instagram being popular, and social media everywhere, it seems everyone’s a photographer. On this episode of Talk Travel Asia we’ll chat with professional photographer Justin Mott about his work, some practical shooting tips and more. Dust-off your lens and get ready for a fun and inspiring episode!

Scott & Trevor chat about how they shoot photos when traveling. What they like taking photos of, limitations they have with photos, and what annoys them about people taking photos when traveling.


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Asia Podcast on Travel Photographer Justin Mott (courtesy of Justin Mott)

Travel Photographer Justin Mott (courtesy of Justin Mott)

Guest Intro: Our guest is American Justin Mott, a professional photographer that lives and works in Vietnam. After studying photojournalism at San Francisco State University from 2002 to 2006, he was inspired by Philip Jones Griffiths’ book Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Viet Nam and in 2007 moved to Vietnam to live fulltime where he calls Hanoi home. We’re speaking with him via Skype from Hanoi.

To listen to Justin answer the following questions,

listen to episode 97 of Talk Travel Asia podcast!

Hi Justin – we touched on a bit of your background but can you tell us a bit more about where you’re originally from and what drew you to Vietnam?

What do you love about Vietnam? 

Tell us about your Agent Orange project “Legacy of Horror”, which was published in Newsweek.

Tell us about some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

As you know, we’re a travel podcast, so can you tell us a bit about some of your favorite areas in Vietnam to travel and take photos?

With the advent of pretty high-quality cameras in phones, everyone seems to fancy themselves a photographer, so we’d like to get a few tips from you about how to best take certain types of photos.

Asia Podcast Photography Justin Mott As Above So Below (courtesy of Justin Mott)

As Above So Below (HCMC Archive courtesy of Justin Mott)

Landscapes: Most everyone takes landscape photos on a trip – share a few tips that the common traveler can employ to get better shots while on vacation.

Portraits: While looking at your project for the NY Times, Drug Addiction, it got me wondering how you cultivate relationships with people and make them feel comfortable for portraits?

Action: Asia’s wonderful for dynamic action everyone – how can people capture the frenetic life of Asian cities?

Food: I almost don’t want to ask this one as so many people seem to take a photo of everything they eat, but Asian food is exotic so we’ll ask – what should people keep in mind when taking food photos?

Your current project is “As Above So Below” – tell us about it?

How did you team up with drone pilot Nguyen Hai Nam?

How are such shots taken?

In the National Geographic story you currently have online, I liked the quote from you, “I missed the sharing part of photography.” Tell us more about that and what it means? –

How do you feel about travel photography now that everyone with a good smartphone can seemingly become a ‘photographer’?

Asia Podcast Photography Justin Mott As Above So Below (courtesy of Justin Mott)

As Above So Below (courtesy of Justin Mott)

On the subject of smartphones, Naturally some people travel with serious DSLR gear, but do you have a recommended smaller camera for travelers that produces better than phone images but still captures great images?

You’re the host a History Channel show, Photo Face-Off; tell us about that experience and how it all came about?

Ha Giang, the northern mountainous area looks incredible – tell us about traveling there.

Can you share a few of your other favorite spots in Asia to take photos?

How did you end up with a Wikipedia page?

We have links to your website, story, Instagram, but tell people where they can go to learn more about you and your work?

See a Photo Gallery from this episode.

Links about our guest:

To learn more about Scott & Trevor:

Talk Travel Asia is brought to you by Trevor Ranges and Scott Coates, every two weeks(ish) from wherever in the Asia they happen to be. Alternating episodes feature a guest or the two hosts, cultivating travel insight through intelligent conversation. If you enjoyed the show, please donate, even just a dollar a month: that’s only .50c per episode(ish). 

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