Q&A with Photographer Roger Fishman

Since leaving the corporate world to indulge his wanderlust, Indagare member Roger Fishman has journeyed to the far corners of the earth as a travel photographer. Indagare spoke with the dauntless explorer about his life-changing trip to Botswana, experiences like snapping penguins in whiteout conditions and surrendering to nature in Antarctica.

What inspired your current work? I previously worked for big corporations, but in 2005 I decided that I needed to create my own business to reconnect what I truly believed. I flew to Botswana, got off the plane and into the car and immediately saw a pride of lions. Everything changed for me in that moment. I decided I wanted to be a photographer, adventurer and activist. From then on, I started working on finding my eye.

Tell us about your trips to Antarctica. What is it like to photograph emperor penguins? It’s always a challenge to find the words to explain something that is beyond imagination, and I think of Antarctica as just that. There’s a sense of frozen, vast peacefulness. Of course, the weather is brutal—think minus-40-degree temperatures and 30-mile-per-hour winds. In those harsh conditions, I felt as if I were living in a dream. There’s an exceptional, calm electricity and experiencing it is such pure pleasure. When you’re there, you surrender to the conditions and focus only on the most critical priorities: food and energy, water, warmth and, in my case, the opportunity to see the penguins. You’re engaged with what I see as a truth of life, which is that you are not in control. It’s one of the few times when you can truly accept vulnerability, embrace it and also be completely empowered by it.

Related: Go It Alone: The Best Places for Solo Travel

How do you take photographs in such extreme circumstances?

The conditions can be brutal, especially when there’s a whiteout, which makes your surroundings essentially invisible. But I seek whiteout storms for my photos to highlight the beauty and power of Mother Nature. As for the gear, it’s a constant struggle. I prefer to lie on the ground when I photograph penguins, because I like to have an eye-to-eye perspective and to capture them looking like superheroes. When you’re on the ground facing the wind, you’re constantly trying to protect your gear to get a crisp, clear shot. I also have to think of the penguins’ environment as a place where I’m a visitor, and I want to be respectful, calm, slow moving and quiet. Some of my best photographs took waiting and hoping that the emperor penguins would create a magical moment for me to capture.

What were your accommodations like in Antarctica? At the camp I stayed in, there’s a mess hall where you can charge batteries, but there’s no Internet or telephone. As for accommodations, there’s a tent that can hold you and your gear. But your tent can get buried under the snow, and you have to dig your way out.

Related: A Plane Ride to Inspiration: Rwanda

What other destinations inspire you? I love every place I’ve been. I believe that if you have an open mind and an open heart, then every place is magical. I have been to the Faroe Islands, the Lofoten Islands and to Iceland, three of the most glorious places on the planet. Is one more beautiful than the others? No, they’re all gorgeous.

Recently, when I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I went trekking into the jungle to see gorillas in their natural habitat, which was incredibly inspiring. I went for five days and did two treks a day—10 miles a day for 10 hours in incredibly hot conditions—but I was with amazing rangers, and I had a phenomenal and intimate experience with the gorillas.

Related: Just Back from… the Norwegian Fjords

There are two ways I relax, and the first is with my family. As for destinations, anywhere I am completely isolated works for me: in the Arctic Circle in a tent or mobile camping in Africa, anyplace there’s no cell service, no Wi-Fi, no buildings. The absence of humanity is relaxing to me, because I believe that’s where we experience a connection to something greater than ourselves.

Where would you still like to explore? I would love to go to Mars and outer space. But on this planet, I want to do a road trip across all of Africa.

Related: Indagare Insider: Sir Richard Branson

Getting There: Antarctica

Indagare recommends a few different ways to reach the earth’s southernmost continent. Cruises are offered by a number of companies, and the ships typically depart from South American ports like Punta Arenas, in Chile; Montevideo, in Uruguay; and Ushuaia, in Argentina. Those who want to avoid the notoriously rough seas of the Drake Passage might consider one of the airplane expeditions, which depart from Cape Town, South Africa, and Punta Arenas. Contact Indagare for advice on which experience is right for you and to book a trip.

Related: Compiling a Travel Bucket List 

Published onOctober 16, 2017

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