‘Gypsetting’ around the world

Yusuf Hashim, travel photographer. By Alvin Soon.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Yusuf Hashim, travel photographer. By Alvin Soon.

Hashim tells us what makes a great travel photograph, and the biggest lessons he’s learned from traveling around the world.

My Reading Room
How did you get started as a photographer?

I am not a photographer. I am simply a GOL – a Gentleman of Leisure, gypsetting around the world, spending my children’s inheritance, shooting pretty pictures for pleasure, to show everyone what an amazingly beautiful place our Little Blue Planet is.

I want to persuade people to ease off on the rat race, and go smell the roses. Amazingly, I have septuagenarian friends who are still diligently going to the office each day, making more money they will probably never spend. There is more to life than just going to the office till you drop. Everybody has a bucket list to tick off.

My message is, stop working. Start spending your children’s inheritance. Go see the world. If you don’t start ticking off your bucket list, it’ll soon become part of your shovel list, as you pass your use-by date. I arrange photo-safaris for friends, to exotic gypsetting destinations worldwide. Come and join me to go shoot photos in places that most ordinary persons don’t even know about.

You describe yourself as a “gypsetter” — what does that mean?

A gypsetter is someone who loves the ease and carefree, wanderlust lifestyle of a gypsy, but they have the sophistication, the good taste and the resources of the jet set.

You’ve travelled around the world, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Travelling not only enriches the soul, it broadens your mind. If you felt you were poor, when you travel, you’ll meet the absolute destitute living in conditions akin to those where animals live. You will then begin to be grateful for what you already have.

Travelling makes you aware that life is unjust. There is such a wide gap between the haves and the have nots, and often, you will find yourself close to tears at the inhumanity of it all. When you travel you begin to see that every single human being is the same, no matter the colour of his skin, the language he speaks, the God he worships, we are all exactly the same.

What to you makes the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph?

In my mind, a good photograph has soul. You can interpret that anyway you like and it will take a whole evening to talk about the soul of a photo, so I won’t even start. And I don’t know how to describe a great photograph either, except to say I will know it when I see it, because a great photograph will always make the hair at the back of my neck stand.

What are the most common mistakes you see travel photographers make?

A painful travel photo is the selfie. We want to see what you are seeing when you travel, but we don’t really want to see your mugshot in every travel photo that you shoot. What are you trying to say with your zillions of selfies? That you’ve been there and done that? When you travel, try to capture the essence of a place and not your presence.

Check out page 104 for Yusuf Hashim’s tips on how to take great travel photographs.