May 29, 2015
We recently had the opportunity to connect with Joel Robison, a photographer based out of Cranbrook, British Columbia. Joel was recently hired by Coca-Cola to participate as the lead photographer in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, capturing happiness in 90 countries over a 9 month period. In addition to traveling and taking incredable photos, Joel enjoys riding his bike and his love for biking frequently shows up in his work. Here is what Joel had to share with us about his travels, photography, and biking...
Let's talk a bit about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into photography?
I'm originally from a small town in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada but currently living just outside London, England. I started in photography almost by accident. Growing up I had always loved stories and animated movies and wanted to work at Disney as an animator. Unfortunately that didn't happen and I chose a different education path. During college I came across the website Flickr and saw the amazing photography that people were sharing and I fell in love. I've been taking photos ever since, about six years now!
What kind of gear do you use?
Right now I'm using a full Sony kit, the Sony A99 with a variety of lenses but I usually stick to the 85 1.4 or the 24-70 2.8 if I'm travelling. I'm also a Vanguard Inc ambassador and proudly use their incredible bags and tripods on all my journeys.
What is your favorite thing to photograph?
I love to take photos of people, but in a creative way. I feel that each person has hundreds of stories inside them to be shared and I love taking those stories and turning them into images. I feel like taking these photographs helps me remember people in a clearer way than just talking to them.
Among your series work, which one is your favorite? Why?
I would say that my series of miniature people is one of my favourites just because it takes my mind to a new place. It lets me crawl on the ground and look at objects in a new way and I feel that when people look at them they feel happier or more curious and it opens up a new world.
What is your favorite photo someone else has taken?
Oh that's a tough one. Ever!? I think I might have to pick this one by Rodney Smith
It's always been an image that makes me happy and curious and I love the way he is able to capture simplicity in his art.
Favorite location you've ever photographed?
I was lucky enough to take photos in some of the most beautiful places in the world. I think that Hawaii is certainly at the top of the list but the Great Pyramids of Egypt certainly top it.
When you travel, what do you take with you?
I try to travel lightly, but as a photographer on the go it all adds up quickly. I bring my camera and lenses and my laptop. I also bring my ipad so I can read, I try to read as often as I can. I always have a notebook with pens and highlighters so I can write down ideas, plans, to-do lists and colour over them when I'm done. I always have some small props in my bag like orgiami boats, or vintage keys or stopwatches just in case I can use them in a creative place.
What inspires you?
I'm quite inspired by the idea that anything is possible so I find that restraint that we have limits on what is real and what isn't, inspiring. I like to make images that play with the idea of what is real and pretend.
How would you describe your style? Why do you think you are drawn to that particular style?
I think my style would be described as whimsical portraiture. I like to tell stories in my work and I'm really interested in showing ideas through images. I feel like I've always understood concepts or stories or even conversations in photos and I think that is how my style developed.
A lot of your photos seem to surround travel. Are you an avid traveler?
I have been quite the traveler in the last few years. I was fortunate to get a really great opportunity working with Coca-Cola and FIFA ahead of the FIFA World Cup where I was able to travel to 85 countries. I've also done a few cross-USA road trips teaching workshops across North America. I love traveling and meeting new people and seeing new things.
As you know we (Tripsite) love cycling and we noticed you include bikes in a lot of your photos. Why is that?
I'm a bit of an avid cyclist as well! I started mountain biking in college and I fell in love with it, I'm lucky to have lived in the mountains of BC with endless trails. After college I actually volunteered with a cycling organization that promoted sustainability via cycling tours. I spent three summers cycling over 6,000km across western canada talking to youth about sustainable living. It was an amazing chance to see so much of Canada and I really grew to love cycle tours. I've since done a few solo trips around B.C. and I love it.
What is your favorite bike related photo that you have taken?
Probably this one, it was taken a few weeks before one of my cycle tours and it was the first time I created an image that really expressed myself in a photograph. I just bought a new bicycle and it was the first time I'd used it in an image, his name is S.A.M. and we've had quite a few travels together.
What is your favorite travel related photo you have taken?
That's a tough one but I'd have to say this one maybe from when I was in Malaysia. I was only there for a few days working and I was able to meet up with some photographer friends that I'd wanted to meet for years. The other person in the photo is a talented photographer, Adam Raasalhague, and we'd been friends and worked on projects for a few years but hadn't met. It was fantastic to get to meet and create something in a new place together and this photograph makes me feel happy and optimistic.
If you could travel to any place in the world on a bike, where would you go?
Oh on a bike! Hmmm....I've always wanted to ride across Canada from one end to the other, and I've toyed with the idea of it a few times so I'd probably say that. The beautiful thing about cycling is that you don't really have to go far away to get that sense of adventure!