After having several trips cancelled by the pandemic, Portuguese photographer Joaõ Falcao had the idea of recounting his favorite trips from last year in a little more detail than before. He started posting recaps of road trips through Bosnia, Croatia, the Italian Dolomites, and his home country of Portugal on his Instagram stories to provide a little quarantine travel inspiration using the placeholder #travelingfromhome. Encouraged by the response, he continued on and reached out to us about the project, when we took the chance to ask a few questions about the creative process behind it.
A lot of photographers and creatives will be looking to the archives for inspiration at the moment. How do you find fresh inspiration in old work?
To be honest, it’s been amazing to be looking into my archives and travel even on my couch. The creative process is very different right now as I try to look at the photos I took a while ago and edit them with maybe a different technique, but especially with different eyes.
I notice that all your episodes of #travelingfromhome are stories of road trips. Is a road trip your favorite way to travel? If so, why?
While not all my trips are road trips, most of them are. To be honest, that’s the one way of traveling where I truly feel free. As a photographer, nothing annoys me more than passing by an epic place and not being able to stop because I was on a train, for instance. I really love to travel in a campervan and just wander around, stopping wherever and whenever I want.
You traveled to some places on these trips that are often crowded and heavily-photographed. How do you approach famous views and places with originality? Is it more about the shot or the edits?
I really think about this question a lot, and to be honest, I think about it both when I’m shooting and when I’m editing. On the one hand, of course when I go to a famous place I already know about some of the photos I want to take. Usually, I study the place beforehand and when I get there, I go straight to the clichê photo, then to the other photos I already thought of and finally, I try to create something different. Originality and creativity can take place before and during the shoot. Then, I really try to put my style on the shot through editing and establish my own sense of aesthetic in the photo.
You also spent a lot of time in nature during these trips. Was that by design, or did it just happen that way? Do you prefer to shoot nature, rather than the city?
I’m a nature person, so almost every trip I do right now is with nature in mind. Of course, I also go to cities and try my best to learn more about the culture of those destinations — but for my photography, I’ll try to find some more natural spots around in any given city. When I started, I was all about shooting cities and people, then my passion evolved to natur. Now I almost don’t shoot in cities at all.
What were your very favorite memories from these trips?
Luckily I have lots of cool stories from my past trips but if I had to choose one or two, I would land on one from Portugal and another from Montenegro. I will always remember very well the first trip I did truly camping in the wild, which was all along the coastline of Portugal. Spending that time in such a way really changed how I experienced my travels — I started to believe that less really is more. The other story is from when I was doing a road trip through Montenegro and I arrived at an Airbnb. I wanted to go to the lake next to the apartment for a quick dive, but I didn’t know if it was safe or allowed, and the host didn’t speak a word of English. I tried to ask, and without even exchanging a word with me, a boat arrived to pick me up for a ride and didn’t ask me for anything. Pure generosity.
You mentioned that you had a number of trips cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Do you expect that you will travel more or less than before after lockdown ends?
Yeah, this year I already had 4 trips canceled. To be honest, I really think that the quarantine will give us all inspiration to travel closer within our own countries, or at least closer to home. For this year and maybe longer, we’ll have an opportunity to explore our surroundings and to experience some places we already know in a different way. I think traveling will slow down a bit for foreign countries as we naturally stay closer to where we feel safe.
If anything, what can travelers and photographers learn about themselves during this time of isolation?
Although just passing through this safely takes a lot of effort, I think this is a huge opportunity to develop ourselves in so many ways. I think it’s a time for getting creative and really thinking outside the box for new ways of shooting, learning new techniques, and doing all the projects we always postponed due to lack of time.