National Geographic Photographer Susan Seubert wins Gold at NATJA

National Geographic Photographer Susan Seubert wins Gold at NATJA

I was completely taken aback when my cell phone pinged, “Congrats @susanseubert winning #NATJA gold for your photos in ‘Saving Old Bangkok’ in the Aug/Sept 2014 @NatGeoTravel.”  The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) had held its annual competition for excellence in travel publishing and I was awarded gold in the category of Photo Essay.  Since I hadn’t entered, I had no idea I was even up for an award! I would like to thank my editors and the entire staff of National Geographic Traveler for giving me this fantastic assignment as well as congratulate the magazine for winning the grand prize for Travel Publications!  Go Team NGT!!!!

The opening spread for the award winning photo essay, "Saving Old Bangkok," for National Geographic Traveler Magazine

The opening spread for the award winning photo essay, “Saving Old Bangkok,” for National Geographic Traveler Magazine

National Geographic Traveler had assigned me to photograph a story about a small group of people in the old city of Bangkok who are actively working to preserve some of the remarkable wooden houses and other structures in the neighborhoods on Rattanakosin Island, on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River.  The project is being spearheaded by architect Worapan Klampaiboon, who has a small guesthouse on Samsen 5, the Samsen 5 Lodge.  I spent just over two weeks wandering the streets photographing the people, guesthouses, neighborhoods, markets and temples that are all located in this area.  One of my favorite places to explore was around one of the guesthouses, Baan Dinso.  Everywhere, daily life spilled on to the streets.  Being able to spend time walking through the narrow roads of these areas allowed me to experience what the architect saw: an architecturally important area that had fallen into disrepair but was still salvageable. I photographed a group of old wooden homes that had been transformed into an arts center by a kindly couple who happened to be friends with my translator. This ended up being one of the opening pictures along side an outdoor bathtub at a renovated guest house, the Old Bangkok InnYou can read the story here.  Thank you for visiting!

Monks during prayer at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok.

Monks during prayer at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok.

The neighborhood around the Bann Dinso Guesthouse

The neighborhood around the Bann Dinso Guesthouse

Wat Ratchanaddaram, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Ratchanaddaram, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand

Photographer Susan Seubert teaching for National Geographic Seminars

As I was preparing for my forthcoming National Geographic Seminars, I realized that in the last 10 years I’ve photographed over 30 feature stories for National Geographic Traveler Magazine, ranging from Beaujolais to Bangkok to Birmingham. 🙂

I look forward to sharing my experiences, tips and tricks of the trade for all who attend the National Geographic seminars on The Travel Assignment in Los Angeles and Portland.  For the schedule of events, click here.

Monks during prayer at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok.

Monks during prayer at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam, a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok.

An art-light installation designed by San Antonio artist Bill Fitzgibbons called "LightRails" in the 18th Street viaduct near Railroad Park in downtown BIrmingham, Alabama. Organized by non-profit organization REV Birmingham, the lights are installed to encourage pedestrian traffic and link First Ave. North and the East Gate of Railroad Park.

An art-light installation designed by San Antonio artist Bill Fitzgibbons called “LightRails” in the 18th Street viaduct near Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

The village of Oingt, located in the southern part of the appellation of Beaujolais.  Pictured here is a Fete de Conscrit.

The village of Oingt, located in the southern part of the appellation of Beaujolais. Pictured here is a Fete de Conscrit.

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert in Bangkok for National Geographic Traveler

I was sent to Thailand to photograph a story about Bangkok for National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  This was my first time in Thailand and it was a wonderful experience.  Since the coverage was limited to the old area of the city on Rattanakosin Island, I spent days wandering the streets and making pictures.  Dusk and dawn were the best time due to the extreme heat during the time of year I was there.  One day it was so hot that my tennis shoes melted apart!

My photo editor included one of the images from the take on National Geographic’s “On Assignment” web site: a photograph I made at Wat Intharawihan of the 105 foot tall Buddah which is covered in gold.  I had seen many photos at this place, mainly of people at the feet of this giant statue. When I arrived, it was in terrible mid-day light and all of the people were gone so it seemed that I was not going to be able to make a good picture.  Then, one of the caretakers arrived to dismantle some banners and I lucked into an opportunity to shoot the feet with a sense of scale that normally one wouldn’t have seen published.  You can read about the photograph on National Geographic’s web site here.

 

Wat Intharawihan in Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Intharawihan in Bangkok, Thailand

The story will run in the 2014 June/July issue.  I hope to write more about the assignment when the issue hits the news stands.

Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great day!

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert at Khao Sok National Park in Thailand

While on assignment last year in Thailand, one of the places I was sent to photograph was the Elephant Hills Resort located in the Khao Sok National Park.  This resort has two locations: 1) a luxury tented camp located adjacent to the Khao Sok National Park and 2) a line of floating luxury tents that are situated on water in the Cheow Larn reservoir called The Rainforest Camp.  This body of water was created when the Ratchaprapha dam was built in 1982 on the Khlong Saeng River.  Khao Sok National Park boasts the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand.  Elephant Hills on land offers kayaking, jungle trekking and helping to care for the captive Asian elephants.  These elephants were used for logging and after those operations stopped, the elephants became part of a sustainable tourism program in Thailand.  At Elephant Hills you don’t ride the animals, but feed and bathe them while the mahout gives you guidance and education about these amazing animals.  I had the pleasure of covering both properties.  The shoots were fast and furious, a day at each location, with the usual challenges.  However, it was beautiful to kayak on the Sok River, feed the elephants and listen to the sounds of the jungle from my tent at night.

At the Rainforest Camp, I was fortunate enough to not only experience some fine kayaking and long tail boat rides, the guide took me on a jungle trek.  Within ten minutes on the trail, we were lucky enough to encounter three different types of primates: Macaques, Gibbons and Langurs.  They were very agitated and making lots of noise.

Here is an audio recording of what we heard:  khao_sok_monkeys.  I encourage you to have a listen.

Initially, the guides thought that the monkey ruckus was because of a territory dispute given that they were all in a jack-fruit tree.  We soon discovered that the monkeys were upset because there was a clouded leopard sitting in the tree directly above us, likely deciding which type of monkey it might like to have for lunch.  I looked up just in time to see it leap across the branches above my head, crawl down the back of the tree, head first, and silently creep off into the jungle.  (read: missed the shot!)  Everyone in our group was shocked as these wild cats are not expected to occur in this area.  As we continued hiking through dense ficus we ended up at a limestone cave which was filled, much to my dismay, with bat eating snakes.  I wasn’t told that we’d be heading to a cave, much less one filled with hungry snakes, so I hadn’t brought a torch.  When the guide noticed me climbing up one of the slippery rock formations to try to get a better shot of the cavernous space, he yelled up to me, “mind where you put your hands.  There are loads of snakes!” and directed his torch to one curled up on the top of a very tall stalagmite.  I froze in utter fear, then slid down the steep, muddy outcropping to safety.  We poked around the cave and found a few snakes in the wall crevices.  One had a very full belly, an indication of a successful hunt.  We finished off the day with a long tail boat ride back to camp where we immediately hit the mammal identification books to confirm our leopard sighting.  It was a marvelous experience and an assignment I’ll never forget.

Another day at the office! Taking a longtail boat back to the camp for breakfast after a dawn shoot.

Another day at the office! Taking a long-tail boat back to the camp for breakfast after a dawn shoot.

Feeding the elephants at the Elephant Experience.

Feeding the elephants at the Elephant Experience at Elephant Hills Resort

The mahout helps the elephant give me a kiss!

The mahout helps the elephant give me a kiss!

You can see more images from Elephant Hills in Thailand on my stock photography site here.

Thank you for visiting!