We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, check out Angelo Mendoza’s gorgeous photos from around the world.
Sorae Ecology Park
I had just arrived in South Korea with my family when I fell ill and had to be confined to the hotel for the majority of our five-day trip. It was only on the last day that I collected enough strength to head out for sunrise. After a quick scan on Google Maps, I hopped in a taxi and headed to Sorae Ecology Park. After being dropped off at the entrance, I wasted no time and walked briskly along with other eager photographers. Upon reaching a bridge leading to the main area of the park, my jaw dropped as I encountered an amazing sunrise scene — beautiful reflections, surreal lighthouses, and countless photographers spread out around the park. Although many were focused on the lighthouses (which were incredible), I was immediately drawn to the crisp, mirror-like wetlands. It took a while to get the perfect image, but with patience and timing, I caught these two photographers and their reflected silhouettes walking under the sun.
I was with my parents in Atlanta for a conference, and we decided to take a short trip to Chattahoochee Nature Center before we left When we got there, we realized we were too late for the tours, so I somehow convinced my parents that walking down the side of the road for a few kilometers was the best way to find a nice spot to spend our afternoon (which it was!). Some of my favorite photos are found in the in-between moments. What attracted me to this shot initially was the autumn trees, but then I noticed the layers of light that created a sense of motion. I’ve found that ditching my original plans often gives me more rewarding experiences and images that evoke strong memories.
One of the most famous beaches in the Philippines is found on the island of Boracay. Although it’s an absolutely beautiful location, it’s usually quite crowded, and I try to avoid crowds as often as I can. For this series of photos, I purposefully searched for the most quiet and peaceful moments. It was definitely a challenge, but yielded refreshingly unique photos of the beach. The trick was to deviate from what everyone else was doing, which meant visiting locations at odd hours.
Some places have a unique way of immediately making us feel small. After a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, my family and I reached Dante’s View of Death Valley. There were a lot of other tourists, but in a place so vast, it wasn’t hard to find solitude. I saw this couple from afar, and they seemed to be having a peaceful moment with the landscape. In most of my photographs, I try to convey how a particular place made me feel. In this case, it was a unifying kind of bliss.
As I approached the peak of Mt. Balagbag, I took a small detour where I found this path leading toward the distant silhouette of Mt. Arayat. I often crave the solitude of more remote places, so when I travel to well-visited locations I try to seek out and photograph the areas that many don’t often see.
As my family and I began our road trip across the Philippines, we stopped for breakfast at a gas station along a major expressway in Luzon. While waiting for our orders, I decided to do a quick scout in a nearby field. There was a lake and I saw two men working on their rafts. As the first light hit the road in the background, soft morning hues filled the space. It was an incredible display of colors, and I was thankful to be in the right place at the right time. I hadn’t expected to take my favorite photo of the trip before I even had my coffee.
Exploring Aurora and Mt. Pinatubo
As you may have noticed by now, a general theme for my photography is spontaneity. Simply put, I really believe that the most fulfilling experiences are often born from following your instincts and staying open to anything new or unfamiliar. Although I love going to well-known and oft-photographed spots so I can capture my own take on them, I also put significant importance on finding new roads and paths that may lead to views that have rarely been photographed. Whether it’s an off-the-side-of-the-road dry river bed that leads to a gloomy mountain range, or a quick detour from a popular hiking trail to seek a different view, these experiences are what truly elevate my trips, photographs, and memories.