When Lina first invested in a decent camera — a Sony NEX-5R — she was simply hoping to improve the action shots she took of her son, a competitive swimmer. The prospect of travel photography wasn’t even on her radar.

But today, she can’t travel anywhere without her camera in tow.

Born and raised in Beijing, Lina moved to Europe when she was 25. But she still considers the Chinese capital her hometown and consistently returns, ever proud of its vibrant history and culture. Growing up, she tinkered here and there with photography, and though her friends complimented her natural abilities and her keen eye for editing, she never viewed it as anything more than a hobby.

But after purchasing that first Sony, she embarked on a few journeys around Asia and Europe, and decided to take the camera with her to document her adventures. She explored Venice and Taipei, Chiang Mai and the Philippines. She traveled all over her home country of China and even ventured into Nepal for an aerial tour over Mount Everest and the Himalayas. Soon after, she upgraded to a Sony a7ii 2015, and eventually, a Sony a7Rii 2017. From now on, she thought, all of my trips are photo adventures.

For Lina, travel is less about the big picture than those small, intimate moments — the spontaneous feelings we experience when we immerse ourselves in life’s exotic and beautiful flashes of brilliance. That’s what she’s trying to capture each time she looks into the viewfinder and settles on a shot.

Scrolling through Lina’s feed, it’s difficult to believe that she got her start simply photographing swim meets. Her shots are diverse, yet all-connected in the wonder they seem to enclose. Whether encapsulating a battalion of hot-air balloons suspended over the painted skies of Myanmar or zeroing in on the smooth, bearded profile of a Muslim man in Sri Lanka, each photo captures a sense of humility, an admiration of what lies beyond the lens.

In recent years, Lina’s camera has led her on a variety of adventures, from trekking to Everest Base Camp in Tibet to exploring the rice terraces of Bali and active volcanoes of Surabaya in Indonesia. But one of her favorite excursions took place right in her home country. While visiting Yangshuo in China’s southwestern Guangxi Province, Lina had the opportunity to visit the home of several local cormorant fishermen. Though blown away by the quiet serenity of the river region, what astounded her most were the people, the men who lived their lives perched on the bows of their wooden boats with dim lanterns and trained birds.

The lives they led were simple, yet full. They were happy. And, they were healthy. At 80 years old, they made Lina feel somewhat ashamed of her own health and outlook on life.

But that feeling only inspired her to keep living, fully, to continue seeking happiness in those simple, spontaneous moments.

Whenever she picks up her camera and passport, that’s exactly what she continues to search for.

To view more of Lina’s work, visit her website or her Instagram page.

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Devon Shuman
Devon Shuman is a creator, a storyteller, and a traveler from Boston, Massachusetts. He caught the travel bug at a young age when his family would take camping trips in southern Maine and New York’s Adirondack region. Since then, his adventures have taken him all across the globe. His favorite journeys include island hopping in the Galápagos, thru-hiking Vermont’s Long Trail, and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. He currently works as an editorial consultant for Passion Passport, helping explorers from around the world tell their stories.