Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Video for Smithsonian

A while back, I had the pleasure of photographing Paul Theroux, the famed travel writer, at his home on the island of Oahu for a story for Smithsonian Magazine.  I also collected sound and video for a short piece for the online magazine.

I uploaded it to my Vimeo channel so that you can see this short piece about the art of hula in Hawaii.

Aloha and a hui ho!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/178621129″>The Meaning Behind Hula</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/susanseubert”>Susan Seubert</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Multimedia Journalist Susan Seubert for Smithsonian

A while back, I photographed a story about Haleakala, the volcano located on the island of Maui.  This is a very popular tourist destination where people go to watch the sun rise or go for a hike in the gorgeous volcanic crater.  It is also a sacred place for the native Hawaiian people. I had the good fortune of not only landing the story on the cover of Smithsonian, I also gathered video and audio for a multimedia piece that was subsequently edited by the team at Smithsonian Magazine and published on their web site.  There is now an HD version of the final piece to my web site as well as my Vimeo channel.  I’m very proud of this piece as it was extremely difficult to produce.  I gathered all of the sound in the field. I shot the video footage at the same time I was shooting stills.  It was not an easy task, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do so for such an amazing publication.

 

Aloha and mahalo nui loa for visiting my blog!

Susan Seubert Photography in 2014 : An Amazing Year, in Pictures

From the North Pole to the sands of Hawaii, my cameras and I saw many incredible places.

Here are some of the highlights.

My year began in Birmingham for National Geographic Traveler for a story about the history of Civil Rights in the city, but from a traveler’s perspective. The assignment took me to the Civil Rights Museum and the inside of the 16th Street Baptist Church, both sobering experiences.  Birmingham also has a fabulous food scene from down home BBQ to some seriously delicious high-end Southern Cuisine.  The lively arts scene was a surprise, complete with small music venues and vegan restaurants.

The Wales Window at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

The Wales Window at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

The Bottletree restaurant, which offers vegan cuisine, and music venue located in the Avondale district of Birmingham, Alabama.

The Bottletree restaurant, which offers vegan cuisine, and music venue located in the Avondale district of Birmingham, Alabama.

The next great assignment came from the Smithsonian Magazine : photographing the Von Trapp children who have made Portland, Oregon their hometown. We spent time climbing trees and jumping on rooftops with umbrellas to get some wonderful images of these multi-talented youngsters.

The Von Trapp children in Portland, Oregon

The Von Trapp children in Portland, Oregon

From there, it was off to Baja, where I taught photography on board the National Geographic Sea Bird.  We traveled throughout the Gulf of California experiencing all kinds of wildlife. Swimming with sea lions at Los Islotes, Orca whales bow riding at midnight under a full moon and huge flocks of elegant terns choosing their mates at Isla Rasita are just a few of the amazing encounters we had during our eight day voyage.  The wildlife experts on board kept our shutters flying.

Snorkeling with California Sea Lions at Los Islotes in Baja California Mexico

Snorkeling with California Sea Lions at Los Islotes in Baja California Mexico Photographed with a GoPro Camera

Elegant terns and other sea birds gathering on Isla Rasa, Baja California Mexico

Elegant terns and other sea birds gathering on Isla Rasita, Baja California Mexico

After a few loads of laundry and some face time with the kitties, it was off to Maui for the month of May, where I shot a story about Happiness for Prevention Magazine.  We had fun making smiley faces on trees in the lush, tropical forests.  We did street casting to choose our lovely models who expressed joy with their smiles and their feet. 🙂

A tree in the forest on Maui with a happy face made of natural materials.

A tree in the forest on Maui with a happy face made of natural materials.

pink flowers with a happy face in the grass with bare feet, Maui, Hawaii

pink flowers with a happy face in the grass with bare feet, Maui, Hawaii

From Maui, I flew directly to Quebec City for National Geographic Traveler where I spent ten days on assignment.  The European vibe and French speaking Vieux Quebec made me feel as though I had crossed two oceans.

Street scenes from Vieux Quebec, the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, Quebec City, Canada. Rue Saint Louis lighting up at dusk

Street scenes from Vieux Quebec, the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, Quebec City, Canada. Rue Saint Louis lighting up at dusk

Lower Vieux Quebec, also known as Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Lower Vieux Quebec, also known as Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

In June, I headed to Svalbard to work as the Photography Expert for National Geographic Expeditions on board the Explorer, a beautiful ice breaker.  We sailed among the ice sheets, spotting polar bears and photographing the most incredible blues I’ve ever seen.  The landscape around the North Pole cannot be properly captured in pictures, but we all did our best.

A polar bear with her cub on the pack ice in Svalbard, Norway

A polar bear with her cub on the pack ice in Svalbard, Norway

Austfonna Ice Cap on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

Austfonna Ice Cap on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, Norway

Ice floating in Svalbard, Norway

Glacial Ice floating in Svalbard, Norway

Teaching photography has been a focus of 2014. In July, I taught a group of aspiring young photographers through National Geographic’s Student Expeditions program in San Francisco.  We explored Muir Woods, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the streets of San Francisco and magnificent Big Sur.  Later in the year I taught two one-day seminars in L.A. and Portland for National Geographic on “The Travel Assignment.”

Our group portrait with all of the National Geographic Student Expeditions at the Sutro Baths, San Francisco, CA

Our group portrait with all of the National Geographic Student Expeditions at the Sutro Baths, San Francisco, CA

Our dusk shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge with Student Expeditions where we experimented with light writing and a group portrait

Our dusk shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge with Student Expeditions where we experimented with light writing and a group portrait

After wrapping in San Francisco, I photographed for several days on beautiful Bainbridge Island in Washington.  The subject?  Chickens.  Chickens and their coops for Amber Lotus, a calendar and card company.  Keep your eyes peeled for the 2016 edition of City Chickens and Their Coops!

Chickens and their Coops Calendar coming out in 2016, but it's not too late to get your 2015 copy!

Chickens and their Coops Calendar coming out in 2016, but it’s not too late to get your 2015 copy!

It was off to Switzerland in September for two weeks covering 1000 miles of Swiss bliss.  Every village and mountain peak was as picturesque as one would expect from this iconic country.  One of the many highlights was visiting a small creamery in the Alps that makes Alpkäse, a traditional cheese made entirely by hand.  I also hiked around the mountains, explored the country by train, car and boat, and (how could I resist?) sampled lots of chocolate.

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

A Swiss cheese-maker working on a batch of Alpkäse by hand in the traditional manner in a giant copper kettle over a wood burning fire at their cheese-making hut above Wengen, Switzerland

What could be better than this? Crete. I flew directly there from Switzerland and was met by my husband — and my fixer.  We proceeded to spend just over a week shooting the western half of the island.  The food, people, landscape and architecture were outstanding. That story has already hit the newsstands in the Netherlands for the Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveler.

Street scenes in Chania, Crete, Greece

Street scenes in Chania, Crete, Greece

Evening street performers in the village of Paleochora on the southern coast of Crete, Greece, Europe

Evening street performers in the village of Paleochora on the southern coast of Crete, Greece, Europe

After Crete it was off to another island, our home on Maui, where we spent October and November surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding and, of course, making more pictures.  This time the assignment was for me: to explore the underwater world with a Canon 7D and an SPL water housing.  I photographed turtle after turtle, had a few octopus encounters and enjoyed a beautiful moment with a very large spotted eagle ray.

A spotted eagle ray at the reef at Black Rock in Kaanapali, Maui

A spotted eagle ray at the reef at Black Rock in Kaanapali, Maui

A large, male Hawaiian green sea turtle swims peacefully over the reef at Kaanapali, Maui

A large, male Hawaiian green sea turtle swims peacefully over the reef at Kaanapali, Maui

Thank you to all of my clients for sending me on such remarkable journeys.

You’ve made 2014 marvelous!!!

 

Travel Clothing/Make-up tips for Girlfriend Photographers

It’s that time again – the beginning of the travel year in earnest.  I’ll be traveling to 4 countries in the next three months which requires some necessities for the road.  Tomorrow, I am heading to Baja with National Geographic Expeditions.  One of the most important things  to consider in the tropics is SPF protection.  After I complete my assignment in Mexico, I’ll be headed to our Maui headquarters.  Both places require sun protection but also a little bit of dress code.  Some of my favorite pieces have been with me for a long time, so it was time to find replacements.  I hope that this blog post helps all of the women photographers out there who might be in the same boat. 🙂

The first thing I’d like to discuss briefly is skin care and a wee bit of make-up.  These are the items that I generally pack in my carry-on:

cosmetics for the camera bag

cosmetics for the camera bag

I’ve found the Neutrogena ultra-sheer SPF 55 sunscreen to be the best for my face.  It seems to adhere well, isn’t greasy and doesn’t burn my skin like so many other products I’ve tried over the years.  The absolute best sunscreen I recently discovered is the Susan Posnick brush on sunscreen.  It’s a full spectrum powder sunscreen, so you don’t have to worry about it being confiscated by TSA.  It also is very handy to carry around and apply often, particularly to the nose, and it works.  It fits in my sunglasses case for protection from crushing.  Once you buy the brush, you can buy refills as needed which saves money and packaging.  The tiny Vaseline  is the best for dry, chapped lips and although it doesn’t offer sun protection, it keeps my lips from getting too chapped by wax based products.  When I’m working on ships, wind is a factor and the Vaseline prevents wind burn and can be applied to other areas on the skin.  I prefer the cocoa butter version, but the regular does just fine.  For a quick dress-up look, BLINC mascara can’t be beat.  It washes off with warm water and doesn’t tend to flake, so you don’t have to carry any strange cosmetic cleaners to get the stuff off at the end of the day.  These mini-dental floss dispensers are about the size of a quarter and for those long haul flights, it’s a great way to keep dental hygiene on the up and up.

I’ve been buying and testing SPF clothing for several years and was disappointed when Patagonia discontinued their fly fishing tops for women.  The ones they’ve re-introduced this season aren’t nearly as tailored as the older models, but luckily, Kuhl has a top that is very similar to the old Patagonia model.  It’s tailored for a flattering fit and has two zipper pockets for whatever you want to keep on your person such as currency, identification, keys, etc.  It’s also SPF 50 and has roll-up sleeves with a blue lining.  I chose white because of the heat factor for my next few destinations.  I like to layer these over some kind of tank top to help wick moisture away from my body.  An REI tank top that breaths but is form fitting does the trick.  Not only does it add a little color to the outfit, it can double as a sports bra for those of us who are, ahem, not as endowed as others.  Hiking in the islands in the Sea of Cortez can be very hot, so I’ve found that a skirt is often more comfortable than pants if there aren’t many sticky things around, (hello, cactus).  Cargo skirts, which are my absolute favorite for hiking, are starting to go out of fashion, but Marmot has one available now.  This particular skirt is also SPF 50, but it sits just above the knees, so sunscreen or other coverage will be necessary.  The waist band is soft which is great because I’m often using a holster type camera bag and sometimes other materials can cause chafing.

The last detail for the outfit is sun protection for the ears and neck, but can also be used as a headband or other head protection.  Buff makes a 50SPF gator.  It’s pictured below and not only adds a little color to the outfit, but keeps you from getting a red neck from either the sun or chafing camera straps.

Kuhl 50 spf top with side zippers and a tailored fit for women

Kuhl 50 spf top with side zippers and a tailored fit for women

An REI tank top to layer underneath really helps to wick sweat away from the torso

An REI tank top to layer underneath really helps to wick sweat away from the torso

Marmot's short cargo skirt keeps things cool while allowing you to zip in a driver's license, keys or passport

Marmot’s short cargo skirt keeps things cool while allowing you to zip in a driver’s license, keys or passport

Buff spf 50 gator for a versatile look - either around the neck or as a head band for sun protection

Buff spf 50 gator for a versatile look – either around the neck or as a head band for sun protection

Voila!  Cute and practical outfit for warm weather shooting.  Just add whatever leg-wear is appropriate

Voila! Cute and practical outfit for warm weather shooting. Just add whatever leg-wear is appropriate

Hasta pronto and a hui ho!  Thank you for visiting my blog.

I hope that you found the information helpful.  I am not sponsored in any way by any of these companies, so the opinions of this blog are solely my own.

Editorial Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Julia Mancuso in Maui

Last October while I was based in Maui I got an unusual assignment: to photograph an Olympic Skier.  Since there’s not much snow in Hawaii, I was very curious about why an alpine skier would choose to train in a tropical climate.  US Weekly publishes a Collector’s Edition for the Olympics and Julia Mancuso was to be included.  You can find the special issue on the newsstands now.  Ms. Mancuso is the most decorated female American alpine skier so needless to say, I was eager to work with this legendary athlete.  After all, she is one to watch in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics.  We met at her home on the windward side of the island and I was immediately impressed.  She was warm, welcoming and up for anything we suggested.  She was comfortable in front of the camera and we got a lot of good material as a result.  Seeing her with her father, Ciro, was also very sweet – a truly genuine moment of a proud father and loving daughter.  I’ll post more pictures on my stock photo site later, but here is the magazine spread and a couple of behind the scenes shots from our shoot on the island.  Mahalo and a hui ho!

The opener of Alpine Skier Julia Mancuso in US Weekly's Olympic Issue, on newsstands now

The opener of Alpine Skier Julia Mancuso in US Weekly’s Olympic Issue, on newsstands now

The second spread of Julia Mancuso, that includes the photo we made of her and her father stand-up paddleboarding

The second spread of Julia Mancuso, that includes the photo we made of her and her father stand-up paddle-boarding

Discussing how to work together safely on a busy road with Julia Mancuso

Discussing how to work together safely on a busy road with Julia Mancuso

Climbing down to the water for a rough entrance into the ocean

Climbing down to the water for a rough entrance into the ocean

The last photo shoot set-up of the day: Julia Mancuso and her father Ciro, heading out for a SUP session.  So great!

The last photo shoot set-up of the day: Julia Mancuso and her father Ciro, heading out for a SUP session. So great!

Susan Seubert takes over Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram Feed This Week

Aloha from Maui, the Valley Isle!  I’ll be taking over Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram Feed this week, featuring photos of the island’s flora and if I’m lucky, some of its fauna.  You can follow me here and read about why Smithsonian Magazine let me take the reins of their photo feed here.  Mahalo for visiting and a hui ho!

tiny shells, collected on the beach, to welcome you to the island, wherever you may be

tiny shells, collected on the beach, to welcome you to the island, wherever you may be

Photojournalist Susan Seubert in the New York Times: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii

Earlier in October of this year, I was assigned a story by the New York Times to cover a piece that was both art history and travel.  What an adventure!  My husband and I live in Maui for four months a year, so it’s always great to have an excuse to head out and explore.  I didn’t know that Georgia O’Keeffe had spent time in the islands.  I was familiar with only one landscape painting of a waterfall surrounded by green cliffs by the artist, but I learned through the story that this painting was made by O’Keeffe after a visit to the lush Iao Valley on the island of Maui.  It was so much fun to try and see that area, an area that I’ve been familiar with for quite some time, through the eyes of Ms. O’Keeffe.  Although there was no missive to try and emulate what O’Keeffe painted, to try and see what she saw was a wonderful visual exercise.  When I started puzzling together the time of year she was there, it made sense that she may not have been as taken in if she had been there in the dry, early autumn as we were at the time of the assignment.  The waterfalls on Maui are fed by rainwater and currently the entire county of Maui is in a drought.  However, another more obscure painting of two papaya trees in the Iao Valley was equally daunting to emulate as she had superimposed the unmistakable shape of the tree on backdrop of that lush valley.  However, the majority of her time on the island was spent in the lush area of Hana.  The story is on the New York Times’ web site here, but I can summarize our experience of following in the footsteps of this great painter.  She had been commissioned by the Dole Pineapple Company in 1939 to produce two paintings promoting the pineapple company and was invited to Oahu to visit the plantation.  She was disgusted by the fact that Dole wouldn’t allow her to stay on a working plantation because it was considered, “unseemly for a woman.”  She immediately bailed on the project.  Kudos to Georgia!  Instead, after traveling around the territory of Hawaii, she ended up in Hana on the island of Maui where she created most of her paintings during this period.  These stories are well documented not only through letters to her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, but also by her unlikely Hana guide, a 12 year old named Patricia Jennings, who was the daughter of the plantation manager where O’Keeffe stayed in Hana.  Patricia is still alive and living on the Big Island of Hawaii.  The author, Tony Perrottet, interviewed Patricia and was able to put together a living guide to Georgia’s time in Hana and the places where Ms. O’Keeffee painted.  Those places are still intact and very visible to anyone willing to seek them out.  This type of approach to travel is wonderful – not only does one get to stand and see precisely the same thing that Georgia did, the writer incorporated other destinations including where to stay, what to eat and other useful travel tips.  For me, it was a treasure hunt.  Having visited Hana many times, I’ve never considered it through the eyes of one of the most important American painters.  Ever since my parents took me as a teenager to see an O’Keeffe exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute back in the ’80’s, I’ve long admired her work.  This story was also a first for me in another way: there were far more photos published in the printed newspaper than there were online.  These days, as a contributing photographer for many magazines, most of the visual content ends up not in print but online or in an iPad version, there’s still a thrill in seeing a large photograph running across two pages of the New York Times.  Please read the article here.  I’ve also put together a portfolio of the outtakes online here for your enjoyment.  Aloha and mahalo for visiting!

Georgia O'Keeffe's Hawaii
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii in the New York Times’ Travel Section