BOARDING PASS – Petrina Tinslay
Petrina Tinslay has been working as a photographer in Sydney for over 20 years. Not only has she mastered photography, but at the same time has managed to get sent to some of the most beautiful places around the world to document them. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Afar, Martha Stewart, Living, Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveller, and she has worked on more than 45 book titles, chiefly in the realm of food. While today’s feature is all about her travels and how she see’s the world, you can see more of her food work over on The Food Department, which is a collaboration between four Aussie creatives. Thanks, Petrina! –Anne
I was born and bred in Sydney, Australia. ‘The world’s best kept secret,’ as all my expat friends always say.
Where you live now:
I live in Sydney, but travel regularly for my work as a photographer. Coming home is always such a joy. I love my rituals of swimming in the sea pools a 10 minute drive from my apartment and drinking some of the best coffee in the world and eating fresh, light food by some extremely talented chefs and cooks that live on our shores. The weather, even in winter, is manageable which makes it bearable (I do so hate winter–although after seeing your Paris in the snow pics I’d definitely endure it for that experience!). But travel is a passion for me and i think you need to know what else is out there to truly come to appreciate your own piece of paradise. I live in a very special place.
Last trip taken:
Hong kong was my last trip away. It was for a book project I was commissioned for by HK restauranteur Bonnie Gokson which is due for release mid 2013. I have been shooting a book about her creative influences and her amazing cakes from her bakeries……Ms B’s. HK was a part of that book project, as it is her home and clearly a wonderful creative influence for her. It was an amazing trip, but exhausting with HK being a 24 hour city. My favourite meal was at Bonnie’s Sevva restaurant. It was their Chinese bento box. A twist on the Japanese bento, but exquisite dishes that I still remember months on. Hong Kong is truly a wonderful food destination!
Next trip on deck:
I’m off to London. I have some projects on the boil there that I’m very excited about. My brother and his three children live there, so its always a wonderful thing to get to spend some time with them. It usually involves me cooking a pavlova for them which is their favorite Aussie treat.
One place you would go back to again and again:
Tokyo (or anywhere in Japan). I love Japan! I could go anytime. At a moment’s notice. I have been about fifteen times, mostly for work and a few times for holiday, and could keep going back. It has it all for me and my tastes. The cuisine is sublime and my absolute all time favorite. The culture is absolutely fascinating with this clash of super modernity and ancient tradition. The landscapes and nature out of the cities is almost fairy book material. I love the way that beauty is an everyday thing there even for the man in the street. The way the local grocer wraps your food in brown paper and string in the most artful way, that you almost don’t want to open it when you get home. There is always time for beauty there. I love that philosophy and like to be reminded of how important that is in everyday life.
Place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Myanmar. It is a wonderful and very visual experience, especially going to Bagan that has thousands of temples in a very small radius. It is beyond beautiful watching the sun rise over the ancient temples. And Inle Lake is a captivating place where they harvest their crops in the middle of the lake. Every week there is a market on the edges of the lake at different locations and there you will see the gorgeous hill tribes people shopping for supplies. They wear traditional outfits and head dresses and look quite spectacular. It is truly an amazing thing to see such an ancient culture in all its beauty.
Preferred method of transportation:
I guess the more you travel and the older you get, the easier you want the actually “getting there” part of it to be. So comfort is always preferred, but not always possible due to budgets. Getting onto local transportation when you arrive gives you so much material too when observing people and taking photographs. If you are in cars or in a taxis you miss this completely.
Place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Cuba. It’s the absolute top of my list. I’d love to go before it loses that “lost in time” quality that I have seen in many photographs.
Place you’d never go back:
I love travel and think it’s an amazing opportunity to explore other cultures, and both the similarities and differences that are the beauty of this incredible planet we live in. I always see it as an adventure. So my answer is … there is nowhere I’d never go back to. Being able to travel is a real privilege that I try not to ever take for granted.
Most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
My first trip to Myanmar ten years ago made me realize that the modern world has lost its innocence and simplicity. I went straight to New York City after that trip and the differences in how fast and furious the west can be compared to the serenity of the east was never more glaringly obvious to me with this juxtaposition. It was a real eye opener to see this truly gorgeous place and its serene people.
How do you prepare for a trip?
It usually involves a serious edit of things I’m taking to ensure I maximize camera gear, which is always so heavy, and minimize clothing, to allow that extra lens or two. I always do research to choose places that might offer maximum photographic opportunities for me, as so often you are on the ground for such a short time, so I like to have a rough plan in place even if that often gets changed once you hit the ground.
How do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
With my camera. Always. For me it is always a visual treat to travel and my camera is my best way to capture what I see and how I see it. It’s like an extension of my body.
What is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Anything that is captivating or beautiful to me. It can be anything. People, landscapes or objects. I just love the challenge of capturing a moment in time or a moment of beauty. I think taking the time to stop and take photos when you are walking somewhere makes you really take notice of the details that are in a new place. It offers for me a much richer travel experience.
On an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Hundreds to thousands usually, as I’m often on assignment. I come back with my external hard drives bursting at the seams and hours of editing usually ensue.
What’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
It’s definitely a camera as I cannot draw to save my life. A canon 1DS MK3 or my Canon 5D, which has video capabilities.
What do you do after a trip? How long after a trip does this happen?
Most usually I’m in a location overseas to capture images for travel magazine, so these stories usually come out three months after I’ve been away. If it’s my personal images they might go on my website. This usually takes a while longer.
Favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
It varies greatly depending on what I see on my travels. I don’t really collect any one thing in particular when away like some of my friends do. It can be as diverse as an old watch in Berlin market, a handmade silver bracelet in a Burmese marketplace, a camera accessory in Tokyo, handmade pottery in Japan, old letterpress type in Beijing. The thrill of finding something that speaks to you while away and bringing it home as a reminder of a time and place is a special thing.
BOARDING PASS is a regular column exploring the creative ways people see the world and record their travels.
P.S. I’m teaching MAP MAKING again on Skillshare! Sign up anytime :)