Boarding Pass – Sarah Ball

I first discovered the work of Sarah Ball (aka Satellite Eyes) when she responded to one of my tweets. It was late, and I was exhausted, but I was instantly drawn to her work and kept clicking through her images. In her responses below she mentions the way that all photographers are drawn to light, and clearly she does an amazing job. Sarah graduated in 2009 with a degree in photography and graphic design and has been traveling the world ever since. I’m completely envious of the photojournalism program in Senegal that she cites below as being a very influential experience in how she sees the world. Don’t miss more of her work – and each location – on her blog. Thanks, Sarah!

last trip taken:
Currently I’m visiting several countries in Southeast Asia. I’m spending a couple weeks in Luang Prabang, Laos after traveling through Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos for a month.
Kids (including a novice monk) playing soccer along the NamKhan in Luang Prabang.

next trip on deck:
If all goes according to plan, I’ll be heading to India soon to help my friend start up her textile business.

one place you would go back to again and again:
All of those special towns where you feel right at home as soon as you arrive. When I travel I prefer to spend a long time in the places I connect with, so when I find a place like that I try to come back and settle down for a while. That’s what made me stay in Ubud, and I’m feeling that way about Luang Prabang right now. I’ve felt it too in San Francisco and in St. Louis, Senegal.
Sunset outside Ubud.

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Southeast Asia for the less experienced travelers, because it’s so easy and accessible for westerners here, yet still really different and exciting. West Africa for more experienced travelers. It’s an amazing region and I’m glad more travelers are considering Africa to be a desirable destination these days.
On the beach in Dakar, Senegal.

preferred method of transportation:
I like to explore towns on foot, and take public transport in the bigger cities, to take my time and get a feel for the place. But it’s different everywhere; in Asia there’s nothing quite so fun as zipping around on a motorbike and when I’m in America I’m a compulsive roadtripper.
A vintage motorbike in Bali.

Cross-country drive, somewhere in Kansas.

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Burma, New Zealand, Argentina, Rwanda, India, Mali, Bhutan. Those are the countries I can’t get out of my head! I had a dream of visiting every continent before I turned 25, and sadly that birthday came earlier this month and the only one I missed was Antarctica. But I’m proud of myself for nearly meeting such a challenging goal and I still would love to go to Antarctica someday.

place you’d never go back:
I try to find the good in every place I go even if it’s not really up my alley, so even some rather appalling places hold a special place in my heart, like Disneyland and Las Vegas. One exception is Kuta in Bali, it’s pretty vile and I never go if I can help it.
most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
I spent a game-changer of a summer studying photojournalism in Senegal, living with local families and learning about the culture and language. It completely changed the way I look at the world, the way I travel, and the way I take photos.
I spent a few days staying with these girls and their family in rural Senegal.

how do you prepare for a trip?
Minimally! I do enough research to know what I need to pack, the visa requirements, and any basic precautions I should take when I arrive. Lately I’ve been loving Pinterest for travel inspiration. And if Anthony Bourdain did an episode of No Reservations there, I’ll watch that. But I like to leave on the spur of the moment and not quite know what I’m getting myself in to.

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
These days it’s just with my camera. I enjoy blogging about my travels but I like to let the photos speak for my experience, I write very little there.

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Faces, first and foremost, though it’s more important to me to be respectful and non-creepy than it is to get the shot at any cost. I love it when I can catch a little moment that occurs on the street,
like an unusual incongruence or a fleeting interaction between two people. Like all photographers I pay careful attention to the light, and I find it fascinating the way it changes from place to place.

Faces, Bali

Moments, Italy

Light, Cambodia

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
It’s different every day! In my last month of traveling I’ve taken over a thousand shots, though I only use a small percentage of them. But it’s important to me to sometimes to sit back and appreciate a beautiful moment without jumping for my camera. Even though photography is my passion, I need that kind of balance.

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
I like to travel as lightly as possible, so my photography equipment is the majority of my baggage. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and an amazing zoom lens, the Canon EF 24-105 F/4 L. I also carry a 85mm f/1.8 for portraits and a Lensbaby Composer. And I’ve got my trusty
MacBook Pro with Lightroom and Photoshop. I carry all this in a huge compartmentalized purse I designed and had made by a tailor in Hoi An, Vietnam a couple weeks ago. I like to be able to carry everything on my back, and all this is crazy heavy, so I’m good at otherwise packing light.

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
In a way the trip never really ends for me. In college I really enjoyed the habit of moving back and forth between my parents’ home and school, and now in the nearly three years since I’ve graduated I haven’t stayed put any place for more than a few months at a time. So after a trip I’m always thinking about the next destination and how to get away with staying on the road a little while longer.

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
The photos are more than enough for me, and anything that takes up precious pack space has to be carefully considered. But if I see something that really moves me, like a small painting by a local artist, or an amazing textile or piece of jewelry, I may pick it up.

Boarding Pass is a weekly column exploring the creative ways people travel.


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