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Drone pilot interview: Johan Lolos, photographer, world traveler & influencer

We are amazed everyday by the creativity and enthusiasm of our drone community. Among our users, you can find world travelers, professional photographers, young pilots; we asked some of them to tell us about their life, their projects and (for those of you who want to improve their flying or/and photographing skills) their tips & tricks.

Our adventurer & Beboper of the day is Johan Lolos, aka @lebackpacker on Instagram (150K followers). As this guy is always moving, it has been hell of a job to interview him but here we are! He is currently exploring New Zealand, and shares on his Instagram account his amazing journey (see pictures below).

Oh yes, on top of that, Johan is also a great photographer; he shared in this interview some of his fundamentals.

lolos2

Hi Johan, could you introduce yourself in a few words? Tell us about your career? Your current project?

It’s always hard to put a label on what I do. I consider myself as a long-term traveler, but also as a professional photographer and a social media influencer. This mix defines me, and enables me to make a living out of what I love the most: travel photography.

I’m 27 years old and I left Belgium 2 years ago, in September 2013. I spent a year travelling through Australia, and another year in New Zealand, which is almost finished. My career really begun there: I can now make a living by taking photos and by being active on social media. After 7 months in Wanaka in collaboration with the regional tourism office, I’m pursuing my trip through New Zealand for the next two months, taking pictures of the most beautiful spots in the country, at my own pace, only worrying about finding the optimal light conditions.

What do you think of the Bebop? What added value does it bring to your trip?

The Bebop is an amazing tool which enables me to capture things from a new point of view. Being a great hiking enthusiast, I naturally have a thing for aerial pictures. It’s winter now in NZ so it’s getting more and more difficult to reach the mountains’ peaks given the weather conditions. Even if the Bebop won’t replace the pleasure to shoot from the top of a mountain, it enables me to have a new point of view, and to shoot what I want from wherever I please. It’s also a great opportunity to try new, unprecedented things.

What do you think, generally speaking, of the fast development of drone photography?

I find it fantastic that you can now access aerial photography at such a low cost. You don’t need to rent a helicopter anymore: for less than 500€, a photographer can now own a drone and capture an aerial scene, as well as a helicopter would have done. To me, this phenomenon is quite similar to the democratization of Reflex cameras.

Nowadays, no need to be a professional photographer to access great technology and take great-quality pictures. Although, you have to gain experience if you want to produce what I call “next-level” pictures.

What is your advice to take beautiful pictures?

Firstly, you need experience. Every photographer would tell you the same thing. You have to practice, again and again. Wherever you go, take your camera with you; be ready to capture an unexpected situation. As you gain experience, your photographing eye will become sharper and soon enough you’ll see the world as if you were always looking through the viewfinder of your camera.

Secondly, I’d say that there are two very important things when it comes to photography: the framing and the light. Without any interesting light a well-framed photo won’t be a successful one. Likewise, a photo taken during a sunset can be disastrous if the framing is not right. But once again: you need experience to take well-framed photos.

In addition, get used to shoot during golden hours, that is to say the hour after the sunrise and the hour before the sunset. The light is then soft and the contrasts are beautiful. Even if you’re doing portraits, make sure the light is soft and the contrasts are well-balanced, and avoid at all cost strong lights, for instance in the middle of a sunny day, when the sun is at its highest point.

What is the best place that you’ve visited?

That’s a tricky one! Even more tricky considering I just travelled through Australia and NZ, and visited a few Pacific islands. But if I had to choose only one place, it would be the Fiordland National Park in NZ, with the fjords of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. I went there 3 times during my year in NZ, and the third time was the most outstanding, because the sky was covered of low clouds: the scene was really dramatic. Lots of people even consider Milford Sound as the 8th wonder of the world.

What are your main motivations as a world traveler?

My main motivation is a personal one: I want to explore the world as deeply as I can; I want to go always further, discover the world and the different ways of life and cultures. It’s the reason why I spend so much time in the places I visit.

My second motivation is work-related: I want to inspire people, to make them go out and discover new places, touristic or not. But I have to confess I have a thing for forgotten, unexplored places.

Do you have a personal experience to share about your Bebop?

The Bebop is my very first drone; I’ve never piloted one before. I felt comfortable with the Skycontroller very fast and I tried something a bit risky after only 1 or 2 piloting attempts. I was in this beautiful place called Lake Pukaki, located in the South of NZ. This lake is unique, the water is blue and very pure, and some snowy mountains surround it; it seems like winter in paradise. So I wanted to take a selfie from my kayak, in the middle of the lake. I left my Bebop on the shore, took my Skycontroller with me, and paddled for a hundred meters. Then, I made the drone take off and tried to get this selfie I had in mind. That was my first real flight, flying with a precise goal in mind. I was too stressed and nervous to do things the right way, so I just took a video instead of photographing the desired picture. I was way too afraid that my Bebop would crash in the lake and be lost forever after only a few days of use (haha). Fortunately, everything went well, I got my selfie (even if it was just a screenshot of the video), and my Bebop is doing great.

Kayak-johan

What are your upcoming projects?

As I’m writing this, I’ve got a little less than a month to spend here in NZ, mainly in the North Island. After that, I’ll leave for a new adventure in Canada for a year! I am thrilled to discover this country and to go work there as a photographer, as I did in NZ.

Thank you so much Johan for sharing your experience with us.

If you enjoy his work, feel free to follow him on Instagram @lebackpacker. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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