With nights getting darker and work getting more stressful in the run-up to Christmas, the urge to knock your job on the head to travel becomes more enticing.
For this month’s slot Quit your job and travel the world like…, TLE caught up with professional photographer Jon Martin whose photo recently won Network Rail’s ‘Line in the Landscape’ category at the Landscape Photographer of the Year awards.
If Jon’s stunning travel photography doesn’t tempt you to travel, we don’t know what will…
Tell us a little bit about you?
My name is Jon Martin, I live in Norwich and I am lucky enough to spend at least three months each year travelling overseas and in the UK. At the same time, I can indulge my passion for photography. This all became possible when I was made redundant from the world of IT in 2013 at the ripe old age of 51.
The images that I take on my travels occasionally receive awards in photographic competitions. Most recently I was delighted to win the Network Rail ‘Lines in the Landscape’ award in the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.
Where was the first place you visited outside of your native country?
It was Norway in 1981, with a couple of mates from Uni. We got a ferry from Newcastle to Bergen and drove up the west coast of Norway, staying at Youth Hostels along the way. The furthest north we reached was a village called Hell, just north of Trondheim. So we literally went to Hell and back and I enjoyed every minute of it.
What do you like most about travelling?
I love interacting with people from different cultures, even if we don’t speak the same language. I also get a real buzz from seeing a spectacular landscape or city scene for the first time. For me, travel is an ongoing learning experience, an opportunity to grow my knowledge about the people, landscape and wildlife on this planet.
I even enjoy the preparation, looking at magazines, books and the internet for ideas of new places to visit.
How many countries have you visited?
I have visited 40 countries, although it feels like I‘ve only scratched the surface of our diverse planet.
Where is your favourite country and why?
I can’t pick out just one place as a favourite. Perhaps Iceland would win for spectacular landscape, Madagascar for its endemic wildlife, Cambodia for smiling people, New York for its tall buildings and Svalbard as the ultimate wilderness destination. The Isle of Harris should also get a mention as my favourite UK destination for its amazing wild beaches.
Is there a city you consider your second home?
I have never lived outside the UK, but Bruges is my go-to city for a short break. It’s crammed full of tourists, but has great beer, chocolate, architecture – and did I mention the beer already?
If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I would love to be in the Antarctic. I have never been, but have a vision of thousands of penguins huddled together against the elements, plus there are all those icebergs.
Tell us about your best experience on the road
With a lot of time on my hands after I left the IT industry, my first goal was to see and photograph the northern lights. This naturally led to a trip to Iceland and the great experience that was my first taste of the aurora borealis.
I remember the darkness and half stumbling over a frozen Icelandic landscape before reaching the top of a small mound overlooking the glacier lagoon at Jokulsarlon. Two bands of green aurora suddenly came into view, shaped like a double rainbow, rising above a lagoon filled with floating blocks of ice. As my eyes became more accustomed to the darkness, I could make out small patches of green reflected between the floating ice blocks. Just magical.
This started a love affair with snow and ice which has resulted in trips to arctic Norway, Sweden, Finland, Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies.
Tell us about your worst travel experience?
It would have to be Tunisia when I suffered the most horrendous stomach bug I have ever experienced. Some medicine from the local doctor pretty much fixed me. Then, a few days later I had my passport and some camera equipment was stolen while photographing a kitten in an old doorway.
What has travelling taught you about yourself
I am privileged to live in a safe and prosperous country. Also, while I am by no means rich, I feel incredibly fortunate to enjoy the lifestyle that I do.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about quitting their job to travel the world
Be prepared, do research and planning for must-sees. Then make absolutely sure that the financials stack up before you go for it.
Network Rail’s Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition is currently on display at London Waterloo Station and will be running until Sunday 4 February 2018, before touring the UK.