Last Updated: March 6, 2014
In this showcase series we feature the world travel photography of Nicolas Marino. Nico is currently travelling the world on his bicycle, he spoke to Photophique about his remarkable story:
Nico, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am originally from Argentina where I lived until I was 27. Up until then I had been traveling around the world as a backpacker for 10 years in my summer breaks from university, and before that, I used to travel with my parents by car around my country and South America.
I am trained as an architect but not as in love with it as I am with photography. My first trip to Asia back in 1999 was the turning point. I could feel inside an urge to show, to document what I was experiencing. A year later, on my second trip, I bought my first film SLR, a Nikon F60 and from then on, I never stopped.
At 27 I left my country and started cycling the world. The first year took me from Tehran to Shanghai along 10,000 km, I settled there for over a year and moved to Australia afterwards. A year there and moved back to China to Chengdu for another 4 years. Based there I cycled thousands of miles in remote regions of the Tibetan plateau and Xinjiang. 2012 saw the beginning of the long journey I am on today, cycling across Asia and Africa, now, together with Julia, my life’s partner.
Lots of people dream of travelling the world, you are currently doing this by bicycle, what inspired your journey, and your chosen mode of transport?
I spent 10 years backpacking and loved every bit of it, however, it got to a point where the adrenaline and excitement weren’t there anymore, at least not as intense. At that point I was in Tehran when I met a few cyclists coming from Europe on the way to China and that’s when it hit me. Their stories were too amazing to pass unnoticed. In a matter of a week I bought myself a bicycle and everything I needed to convert to “cycle-traveler”.
The beginnings were incredibly tough, I wasn’t fit and knew nothing about mechanics or camping. I thought of quitting every single day during the first month. I was miserable, but I got stronger physically and mentally and started seeing the benefits, both as a traveler and as a photographer and after that point, I knew I was on a one way road. Traveling like this inspires me every day. The deep connection and level of intimacy you experience with the land and the culture you are in is just priceless. Major attractions became irrelevant, the journey became paramount, allowing me to access the essence of the places I visit.
What are your favourite places you’ve visited so far?
Every single place has been special in some way, however there are two places specifically that truly touched my heart. In them I could experience a true magic, product of their geography and their wonderful people. The Tibetan plateau is the first one. Tibetans themselves are simply out of this world, with their selfless hospitality and their utter kindness and love. On the other hand, their land is possibly the most mentally and physically challenging you could ever find. Its beauty stunning and its terrain and weather brutal.
Mongolia comes after. A land that is so incredibly beautiful and a pace of life that is so slow and precarious that anywhere outside the few cities you feel like you are living in a fairy tale. It can also be extremely challenging but its incredibly wonderful nomads will always be there to take care of you. Other places worth mentioning are Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Indonesia.
What equipment do you use for your travel photography?
I choose gear depending on the trip. For a 4-5 years long trip like the one I am in now I had to find the right balance between my specific photographic needs and the influence of gear on my way of traveling mainly due to size and weight As a result, I’m carrying a Nikon D800 + 14-24 mm f2.8 + 50 mm 1.4 + 70-200 mm f4 + SB-600, a small carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod, and folding softbox that I rarely use.
I also carry an Asus Ultrabook for editing, two portable WD passport total of 2 TB for backup, three spare batteries and a GoPro Hero 2 for video. The camera body is mainly chosen based on its built qualities. (weaker bodies simply can’t survive my journeys) and its High ISO and DR performance. I mostly find myself in low light situations when doing portraiture. Lenses were chosen to fit my artistic needs and their speed.
I find myself more comfortable in either extreme of the focal length range rather than in the middle. The 14-24 is a critical lens to me, it allows me to shoot environmental portraits in low light and reduced spaces at the same time it is superb for landscapes and night photography.
Where are you off to next?
We are soon to fly from India to Cairo to start our 2+ year long journey across most of the African continent.
Photophique has express permission to publish these images and Nicolas Marino retains full copyright to all photographs featured in this world travel photography series.