We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Elizabeth Curtis (@iamelizabethcurtis) discusses the experiences and emotions behind her most breathtaking photos.
After spending many years working for creative directors in London and losing my voice amongst the chaos, India reignited my love for photography. Jodhpur was the first place I visited on my initial journey around the world, and it’s where I began to visually create for myself once again.
I was completely taken aback by the city’s architecture. The Mehrangarh Fort sits tall, overlooking a sea of azure-washed buildings, and no one knows exactly why many Jodhpur residents took to painting their homes blue — although I’ve heard that it began in respect to Lord Shiva, and that the color is a good reflector to provide respite from the desert heat.
As I walked through the fort itself, each and every turn felt more magnificent than the last — with intricate traditional Rangoli patterns carved into stone, doorways painted in rich hues, and the Room of Pearls, where oil lamps glow from each alcove and light bounces off the gold ceiling, reflecting the colors of the stained-glass windows. Jodhpur is a place I could visit time and time again and always find something new to experience.
Bali has become a bit of a second home for me. The local people are some of the friendliest I have met anywhere in the world — they welcome everyone with open arms. While tourism is changing the face of the island and Indonesia as a whole, Bali still offers an incredibly unique atmosphere. It’s not often that we can step into a place where tradition is still upheld so strongly in a fast-paced world.
The Balinese Hindu culture is both fascinating and beautiful. Almost every day, I find myself in the middle of a ceremony of some kind, where there’s a real sense of spirituality that I haven’t found anywhere else. Everywhere I go, the smell of rich incense fills the air, and Canang Sari (offerings) are placed all around — outside homes, on roads, inside temples, and even on scooters. The offerings represent the ritual of giving back what has been given to you by the gods and showing gratitude to the richness of life. They can also be found stacked at temples across the island. Water temples, one of which is pictured here, are the most sacred of temples, and the water is believed to have magical powers, so the Balinese come to purify themselves. Attending a water ceremony is an extremely special experience.
I spend most mornings in Bali wandering around the markets, trying to buy most — if not all — of my food to support the local community. The woman in this photograph, Ibu (which means “mother” in Bahasa), has become my go-to fruit vendor.
New South Wales, Australia
I was lucky enough to call the Northern Rivers in New South Wales home for a while. Living alongside many others who work in the arts, it’s a place full of creative energy.
This is one of my all-time favorite photos, showing our blue hands after a plastic-free indigo dyeing workshop, which was led by two amazing women who brought creatives together from various backgrounds to learn something new.
The sunsets in New South Wales are also something to mention — they blew me away, as the sky would turn shades of orange, pink, and indigo almost every evening and reflect onto the soft sand, highlighting the blue of the ocean below. I’ve seen some of the the most diverse landscapes there as well — within a short drive, I’ve found dry shrubs on the edge of the outback, rainforests, waterfalls, and endless sandy beaches.
A little way down the coast, in between Byron Bay and Sydney, lies 20 miles of sand dunes at Port Stephens, a desert landscape sandwiched between the green Worimi conservation lands and the Pacific Ocean. There, the sun creates ever-changing shadows as it moves across the sky, and the wind constantly changes the sand’s path. It is an otherworldly atmosphere.
My partner and I spent two weeks living, sleeping, and adventuring around the South Island of New Zealand in a campervan. We began our journey driving up the long, winding roads into the mountains. Out there, it was easy to go for miles without seeing anyone else.
Traveling to the foot of Mount Cook remains one of the most breathtaking drives we have experienced to date, with its landscape of vibrant hues ranging from blues to yellows to greens. As we arrived, snow started to settle on the mountain top. But the farther we drove, the more the landscapes changed and diversified.
As we drove up the West Coast, Cyclone Fehi rolled in over the ocean. There’s only one road along this side of the island, and since the winds were battering the surrounding forest, fallen trees and burst river banks closed the road, both ahead of and behind us. Luckily, we found a beautiful place to stop for a few hours and watch as the storm took its course. After it passed, we woke to the most beautiful day, with sunlight streaming through the valley. We sat outside our van, nestled in the golden grasses and wildflowers, and watched the birds swoop through the skies above us.