UK based photographer Jordan Banks has been photographing the world for the last 20 years. His work has seen him shoot assignments, stock photos and work with some of the biggest brands in the world. But for Jordan, it was simply the desire to earn a living whilst travelling the lured him into a career as a travel photographer. He says, “I wanted to travel and needed to make money and I was already into photography so it seemed like the perfect combination”.
Jordan’s photography journey started out in the days of film when in his own words “it was a lot easier to get clients as the market wasn’t so saturated”. His main clients were tourist boards from developing sectors and specialist travel magazines. Along with these, he had a few long term assignments before digital photography took over in Peru and Guatemala. Upon his return to the UK, editorial assignments were dying out and the stock photography market was still strong. So he decided to concentrate on stock and travel related commissions. As the stock industry started to wain he began to focus solely on travel commissions for tourist boards, brands and hotels.
Jordan also runs That Wild Idea, a landscape, travel and documentary photography workshops, tours & training company based in the UK. They include everything from 1-day workshops for beginners up to extended trips to some of the most exotic places in the world.
Jordan, where are you from?
I was born in Yorkshire and raised in Saudi Arabia. I have also lived in Croatia, Mexico and a host of other places around the world.
Where do you currently live?
I currently live in beautiful Berkshire in a town called Maidenhead.
What genre of photography do you specialise in?
These days I mainly specialise in travel and landscape photography.
Describe your style of photography?
I would class myself as a documentary photographer that specialises in travel, landscapes and people.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am covering the national parks of the USA for a Cruise America RV as well as running photography tours and workshops with That Wild Idea.
What is your next project or assignment?
My next assignment is in Japan for an editorial client shooting the cherry blossom.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
There are so many to chose from. I love the work of James Nachtwey, Gregory Crewdson and Thomas Hoepker. These are just a few of my favourites.
What is your favourite memory of your experiences?
Not sure I would class it as a favourite exactly but at the last Maha Kumbh Mela (2011) festival in India I was lucky enough to meet a much respected Sadhu who I bathed with, in the Ganges. As a result, I earnt his respect and he got me access to areas that no other photographer could get to. These images then got me my first cover for National Geographic.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
Marketing. I think it’s very hard for a creative person to also be good at the daily hustle that is required to make yourself a success in this business. It’s a big part of any business and in this day and age, it is essential.
What’s in your camera bag?
Nikon D850 and D800 as a backup body with 24-70mm 2.8, 17-35mm 2.8 and 70-400mm f4 lenses. Lee neutral density graduated filters, neutral density filters and a landscape polariser.
I use Manfrotto tripods with ball heads and Low Pro bags. For my drone work, I carry the Mavic Pro. I have just recently added the Nikon Z7 to my bag but haven’t had a chance to use it yet.
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
When I go on a shoot I would have all of this equipment with me but if I had to choose it would be the Nikon D850 and 24-70 lens.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
I think the best advice I can give anyone is to practise and be willing to “hustle” for work. Also, don’t believe the hype about anything.
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
Don’t get caught up in the social media game and believing that everyone else is being successful – especially on Instagram.
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
I am a qualified diver so I would probably be a technical diver on oil rigs or something along those lines.
All images by Jordan Banks. All rights reserved. No usage anywhere online or in print without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.