We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Clara Ferrand (@clarafotomania) takes us to the locations that have inspired her landscape photos, both at home and abroad.
For Clara, who was born and raised in France, it’s just as important to look for beauty in familiar places as it is to find it in far-off lands. As a child, she hiked various regions in France with her mother, which allowed her to get to know the country’s diverse landscapes at a young age.
Today, she’s still drawn to the natural wonders that inspired her during her earlier years. For example, she loves to explore the cliffs of Etretat, an aesthetic location that captures her eye with its contrast of white chalk and blue sea. She also enjoys going to the French Alps and hiking new trails with each visit. In her words: there’s nothing like getting cut off from the rest of the world, breathing in fresh air, and recharging — especially when the mountains are covered in snow.
Clara discovered the Azores — an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean — while reading a travel blog. Just two weeks later, she booked her tickets, and a week after that, she arrived on the main island of São Miguel.
While there’s plenty to love about the Azores, Clara felt particularly drawn to the mountains, volcanoes, and crater lakes that she saw everywhere she went. She loved the island’s hot springs and hikes, and she was equally impressed by the hydrangeas growing abundantly on the side of the road. (To see the flowers in bloom, she recommends visiting at their peak in July or August.)
As a photographer, Clara felt challenged by the São Miguel’s temperamental weather. She noticed that sometimes the cloud cover was drastically different on the eastern and western sides of the island, which made it hard to know how much she could shoot in a day.
If you’re hoping to combine relaxation and outdoor adventure in a single trip, Clara says that the Azores are the perfect destination. She suggests visiting soon, though — before the rest of the world catches on to the islands’ beauty.
Clara’s first road trip took her to Scotland. She and a friend had hoped to explore most of the country in just one week, but upon arriving, they realized that there was no way they could see everything in a single trip. So they quickly came up with a few priority destinations and rearranged their plans.
The road trip required more effort than they had anticipated. With her friend behind the wheel, Clara was responsible for navigating and finding the best places to stop. But, in the end, the two women eventually decided that they would just pull over anytime Clara really wanted to photograph something.
They began on the east coast, driving past unending greenery and clusters of lakes, and then made their way across the Highlands, where the country’s wild beauty overwhelmed Clara. From the car window, she spotted photogenic subjects like red cows, menacing clouds, and hills covered in purple heather. Although Clara didn’t get to see everything on her list, that just means she has a reason to return someday.
Last January, Clara embarked on a three-month trip to Ireland, where she hoped to dedicate herself to her craft and reorient her style as a landscape photographer. It was the first time she had ever spent that much time in one place, and she says it changed her perspective on travel.
Throughout those three months, she learned to travel slowly, research the locations she wanted to visit, and glean recommendations from locals. She began to recognize that hiking was a surefire way to discover unbelievable views and landscapes, and she appreciated getting to know the country’s true ambiance.
Needless to say, Clara had come a long way since planning her overambitious road trip through Scotland.
On Clara’s first solo trip, she visited Jordan and created a photo essay about the Dead Sea and its influences on the people who live nearby. But, she also made time to explore the rest of the country. Throughout her trip, she was pleased to see how welcoming the Jordanians were. Each time she stopped in a village, someone would greet her and ask if she needed help, often prompting a long conversation or an invitation to eat dinner with their family.
But, in addition to being comforted by the warm welcome she received, Clara was blown away by what she saw. From the Wadi Rum Desert to the country’s ancient ruins, there was always something to spark her interest.
Overall, it was an unforgettable experience.
If you’d like to find out more about the destinations that most inspire photographers (and see their best images from each of those locations), you’ll want to check out the other articles in our Instagram Spotlight series!