Trevor Cole's two passions in life are photography and travel. He specializes in documenting landscapes and the world's most vibrant cultures, hoping to create classic images that convey the need for a more sustainable world that embraces diversity. Born in Ireland, Trevor's lived in Singapore, Togo, Italy, Ethiopia and Brazil. Trevor takes over our Instagram for the week (June 9 to 15), sharing some of his most compelling travel portraits largely taken in South Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia.
Culture and its influence are predominant in your work. What is it about this subject that inspires you?
I always like to think that humans are inextricably linked to their environment, which is why I love to shoot people as well as landscapes. People adapt to their surroundings, they're a reflection of their habitats, and this contributes to the immense diversity of humankind on this Earth. Sadly globalization is reducing diversity and homogenizing culture. I love to travel to more remote areas to see people, especially indigenous people, in their true environments. I've particularly enjoyed visiting the people of the Omo valley in Ethiopia, the Himba of Kaokoland in Namibia, the Wodaabe of Chad and the Mundari of South Sudan. In these places too, perpetual change is taking place, hence, I feel it's important to document these people and their lives before they become fully assimilated into mainstream ‘global’ cloned culture.
Connecting with the people you photograph is key to your work, has there been a particularly memorable encounter?
I think one of my most memorable moments was when I driving through the small town on Jinka in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia (The Omo) back in 2016. Looking out the window I spotted a local kid on the street with startling blue eyes. Of course, I stopped the vehicle and went to have a chat with him and asked if it was OK for a few of us to take his photograph. He was such a nice kid, his name's Abusha, and clearly, he'd been spotted before! We took a few images and gave him some money for giving us permission to take pictures. Two years later, while leading a photography tour in the region, I set out to find Abusha and took him for a drink. We had another photo session. Despite the fact he's been photographed a lot he was humble and always willing to partake.
How has Instagram benefited your career?
I started using Instagram properly in 2016 and from there it's grown organically. It's opened up a dialogue with followers. People often ask about the locations of my pictures. I now add a small story to each image to set it in context.
What are you trying to communicate through your work?
As a travel photographer my images are a way of saying ‘get out there’ and relish what the world can offer. Take the road less traveled and capture those moments today to reflect upon tomorrow. I think to be a photographer of any worth you have to be creative. I used to always say that geographers (I was a geography teacher!) use both hemispheres of the brain: they recognize patterns as well as demonstrate the ability to be analytical I think photographers have to have similar skills and they're essential in getting the ‘shot’ that makes a difference.
Equipment-wise, is there anything you swear by?
I use a Nikon D810 and D850 with the AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, and AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G. These lenses make all the difference in terms of sharpness. I have used Nikon now since the days of analogue photography and I feel that once you invest in gear it's best to stick with it and I am comfortable with doing so.
You’re leaving for Namibia shortly, what are you going to shoot?
It will be my third time to Namibia and quite simply it is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. One of the very few to offer spectacular desert landscapes in the Namib, outstanding wildlife photography in Etosha and the Ovahimba tribe in Kaokoland on the North West on the border with Angola. I intend to shoot in all three areas!