Long before I was a travel photographer I was a traveller. Just bumming my way round the world. I took up photography as a way to show the folks back home all these amazing things I had seen. The idea to try and make a living at this crazy game didn't come till years later but this image was a major milestone in my transformation to being a professional.
It was the first picture I ever had published and boy was I proud. These are porters in the lower hills of the Himalayas in Nepal. On their heads they are carrying tables (!) so rich white people don't have to get dirty sitting on the ground when they have dinner. And they're all either barefoot or wearing simple thongs. These men and women are absolutely incredible.
My wife and I spent a month trekking from Kathmandu to the base of Everest. No porters or yaks to carry our gear, just the two of us and a couple of daypacks. We stayed in little local guesthouses and lived on lentils and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
With us for just about the entire month was a fantastic couple from Holland - Toine and Elsa. We met them on the first day and got on like a house on fire. It just so happened that Toine was (still is) an editor at Holland's largest daily newspaper - the DeVolkskrant. He wrote a piece on the effects of tourism on the Nepalese environment and culture and voila - I suddenly had a full page picture in a major European newspaper. Not bad for your first published pic!
I love the way the clouds create a beautiful atmosphere, almost spotlighting the porters. The use of a 300mm zoom compresses the perspective to make the mountains appear big and looming and give a sense of scale of the landscape. Nepal was near the end of our year-long trip travelling round SE Asia and just before I arrived the autofocus on my camera died, so everything I shot in Nepal was totally done on manual focus! And with stock standard lenses off the shelf. Just goes to show that you don't need the best and most expensive equipment (or even equipment that works properly!) to get good photos. Love what you're photographing and the quality will come.