We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Jessica Wardwell takes us to Greece, Israel, and Cuba with her photos.
Looking back at the photos from my time in Israel still gives me chills. While in Jerusalem, I visited the Temple Mount, one of the most sacred and fought-over religious sites in the world. Permission to visit the area is not easy to come by as a non-Muslim, but my tour guide arranged our visit ahead of time, so we had early morning access. Aside from a few visitors, the group I traveled with had the area to ourselves.
It was a particularly quiet morning. My family tried taking a photo together, hugging one another, and we were quickly scolded by every guard on the property — touching other people, posing for photos, and shouting were all prohibited.
My eyes were drawn to the intricate mosaic details complemented by the clean lines and angles of the Dome of the Rock shrine. With the limited amount of visitors and crystal clear skies, I couldn’t have asked for a better time to shoot photos there.
Cuba is one of the most vibrant places I’ve visited — the streets, the people, and the culture are so lively — which made it a joy to photograph. I traveled there for a week last year to produce a short video and, coincidentally, my travel plans lined up with those of President Obama, the Rolling Stones, and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The capital was buzzing after Obama’s speech at El Gran Teatro. Through interviews with countless Cuban citizens, I could see the immense hope for change in a group of people who have optimistically and creatively lived through years of political and economic oppression.
I had been dreaming of the colorful hillside villages of Santorini for years and finally had the chance to shoot there with Go Ahead Tours. One afternoon, while exploring the never-ending steep streets of Pyrgos, I followed the sound of beautiful local music to the top of the hill outside the doors of an old church. After photographing these two musicians, I realized I had crashed a small wedding dinner, but the guests (and talent) didn’t seem to mind!
I spent three days in Mykonos soaking up the sun and trying to avoid the high-season crowds. So I took to the streets at 5:30 a.m. one morning to get the place to myself. A light haze filled the sky and the water was perfectly still as locals headed to work and prepared for the day. I loved the high energy and party atmosphere that Mykonos offers, but exploring on that quiet morning was my favorite moment of the trip.
The island of Crete was not first on my list, but I am so glad it was part of my Greek adventure this summer. Chania seemed more like Italy than Greece with its Venetian architecture and cobblestone streets — a very different feel than the other islands I visited.
I love taking quick, unannounced portraits of people on the street. This older woman in the market was a little skeptical at first, but quickly warmed up to me upon hearing my American accent. She told me she always had dreams of seeing the U.S. but will never it make it there in her lifetime. That conversation reminded me how fortunate I am to travel internationally on a regular basis, meet people, and experience places I could only have imagined otherwise.
To read more about Jessica’s travels, visit her website.