Interview: Anthony Lau, National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year 2016

by Trazee Travel

Dec 21, 2016

© Anthony Lau

Interviews and Quizzes / Interviews

Anthony Lau was recently the winner of National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year contest. You can see his amazing work at anthonylauphoto.com

 

Name: Anthony Lau

 

Profession: I am a LEAN Six Sigma Black Belt, who earns my living through applying statistical driven approach to improve the business process of my company.

 

Age: I was born in the era of 70s.

 

 

Packing Tip? Check the weight allowance of your flight ticket — especially if you will fly on smaller airlines or promotional tickets. Plan what you are going to shoot ahead and made sure it is in the appropriate places. For example, I brought a black cloth hood for the purpose of shooting Northern Lights on the plane to and from Finland, but it is no good if I pack it inside my check-in luggage. For the same reason, I also carry a small bag inside my camera backpack, so I can put everything I need during the flight and put that bulky backpack where it belongs. Bring enough protection for yourself and camera gears from nature elements. I always have a couple of big zip bags inside my backpack for my lens and batteries if needed. And some hand warmer packs can do wonders to keep your batteries alive as well in cold weather.

 

Favorite travel memory? I believe that would be my second trip to Saihanba National Forest Park near the border of Inner Mongolia province and Hebei province during last Christmas. It was memorable as it was the first time I traveled to such a cold temperature (-20 C to -30 C) and then everything you used became a challenge — your tripod became so cold to grab, your camera batteries died out really fast, your breath frosted up the viewfinder, your lens stopped working. It’s the joy of overcoming the difficulties and then realizing you get that shot, that one shot that totally rocked your world and turned your name into a newspaper headline.

 

Bucket List Destination? Oh, it is a really long list, but if I have to choose one place, that would be the base camp of Mount Everest.

 

Favorite off-the-beaten-path spot? That would be again in the Saihanba National Forest Park; I went there twice in 2012 and 2015. There is a lot of flexibility in this region as long as you can secure a good, local guide.

 

What kind of traveler are you? I really don’t care about the usual tourist trail. Indeed, I am always keen to explore everything a country has to offer. I more like to test my limits with an adventure (I hiked 150 kilometers in Finland) rather than laying back and relaxing in a hotel.

 

A photo posted by Anthony Lau (@anthonylauhkg) on

 

Funniest travel story?

The people in Finland said on average they will see Aurora every other night. But I was there for 10 days, and it was all cloudy with no visibility. Guess I was just too lucky.

 

Best meal you’ve had on your travels?

It was a bowl of noodles, ate in a shop somewhere above 4,500 meters above sea level in the mountain ranges of Sichuan in China. I was traveling with friends and we were so hungry after many hours of transport. All of a sudden we saw this noodle shop and we rushed in there and ate as much as we could. It was a really sunny day and we had a really good time together, sharing our stories. We charged up and hit the road again.

 

Craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?

In 2013, I was on my way to the Altay region in the Northern Xinjiang of China. The destination was a remote village called Hemu, but unfortunately the road was blocked and our transportation would not be able to get through. The urge to that village for photos was really high, so my friends and I all decided to take an eight-hour horse trip, traveling through mountain trails to the destination. The road was not entirely safe, the horses were wild some times and none of us had ridden horses before. Luckily, I didn’t fall from my horse, but I can still recall the pain of my bottom after all these years.

 

Favorite item collected from your travels?

If not my photos, what else?

 

Where next?

I always wanted to photograph the Eagle Hunter in Mongolia and, fortunately, I will lead a photo expedition there in August 2017, with a Hong Kong-based company.  Of course, I will also be taking my elder son to the Polar Bear safari in Canada in November 2017, which is the award I got from National Geographic.

 

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