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#HHWT Explorers: Meet Neollene, An Avid Traveller Who Sees The World Through Her Lens


Sharifah Nawwarah •  Oct 07, 2017


Being able to capture moments, His amazing creations and sharing these with others are some of the rewarding experiences Neollene has had as a photographer while travelling ☺️ Read on to find out what inspires her during her travels and tips on how you can capture beautiful travel photos!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am Neollene Ain, a photographer and filmmaker who was once an architect by profession, but now have left the comfort zone to explore the world and doing things that inspires my soul. Little that I know, a wholesome adventure awaits after the day I decided to take on another career path, that had totally changed my life forever. [caption id="attachment_32930" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Road trip journey from Höfn to Húsavík, Iceland[/caption] It has been one of my goals to explore the world while recording memories through films and images not just for myself but to be shared with others. More than just for self-satisfaction but also to the extent that could benefit and touch the heart of others in a positive way. [caption id="attachment_32932" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Brussels City Hall, Belgium[/caption] The broad knowledge that I got while doing architecture has encouraged me to travel further and understand deeper about places, and history behind them! [caption id="attachment_32933" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Casa Batlló, one of Antonio Gaudi’s masterpieces, in Barcelona, Spain[/caption] Nonetheless, being an outdoor kind of person and a nature lover; hiking and adventurous activities are my favourites while traveling. [caption id="attachment_32934" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Cruising over Milford Sound, New Zealand[/caption]
2. What inspires you on your travels in terms of architecture and photography?
Besides nature, differences in the architecture of each place I've visited inspires me to travel even more as it's one of a kind satisfaction to learn and make new personal discoveries. I love to see the movement and architecture that portrays the culture, era and people in every country. [caption id="attachment_32935" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Colourful Mosaic and Zallige tileworks at Golestan Palace, Iran[/caption] Likewise, there’s nothing better than taking a photograph or video that gives impact on other people’s lives. I always believe that photography can make wonders. When people see a photo in depth, I hope I could make them feel and see them the same way as I did when I was there seeing them live and be amazed with God's wonderful creation. [caption id="attachment_32936" align="alignnone" width="900"]
West Bank Barrier, Bethlehem, Palestine[/caption] It's my belief that traveling is a soul-searching experience. I would be happy if I could tell stories and share the experience that I have not only in still pictures, but also through films. The feeling is different and better when we see it metamorphosing and in motion. It’s something real and sensible. [caption id="attachment_32937" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Salt-mining village, Hallstatt, Salzkammergut, Austria[/caption] When I heard my photos have inspired people to visit new places they've never been before, that’s a feeling that nobody could explain. I never knew what I do could leave such impact to the society and inspire others to go after their dreams.
3. What has been the most rewarding experience you've had as a photographer while travelling?
Being able to capture moments, amazing nature and wonders of the world, culture and great architecture of places that I’ve never imagined before and to share them with people. Not everyone likes his or her face to be captured in photograph. It’s an indescribable feeling when people that I met feel at ease as I capture their faces and feel happy seeing at their photos. [caption id="attachment_32938" align="alignnone" width="900"]
An old man was selling fruits and nuts in Abyaneh Village, Iran[/caption] For example, when I first started traveling, I always wanted to photograph the best natural wonders of the universe, like Aurora Borealis and Milky Way. Alhamdulillah, my first successful attempt to capture Milky Way was sometime back in 2012 when I was still studying in Perth, and the drive to capture more keeps coming in. Then, my visit to the Nordic region, I was able to experience the phenomena of Aurora Borealis. By looking at those beautiful wonders, makes me humbled of the Greatness of Allah. [caption id="attachment_32939" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Milky Way in Taunton Farm, Margaret River, Western Australia[/caption] It’s also satisfying to be able to capture varieties of landscape and geography especially those perspectives I got through hiking on the mountains. The harder it gets to the top, the more magnificent the views will be. [caption id="attachment_32940" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Leather Tanneries in Fez Medina, Morocco[/caption] As a photographer, travelling has opened up so many opportunities, far from what I've previously envisioned. From social media, people could see my works, and they started to invite me for talks, sharing session, collaborations with local and international brands and the latest one, an opportunity to have my own exhibition showcasing my works to the public. [caption id="attachment_32941" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Inside the K23 Soft Sleeper Cabin, Trans-Mongolian Train from Beijing to Ulan Bataar[/caption] From there as well, I got the chance to be totally involved in the production of a travelogue program that covers the journey of traveling across the world for the airing on local TV station.
4. If you had an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, what would your itinerary look like?
I would probably spend my time exploring, sitting and wondering at the incredible view of National Parks in Western Canada; one of it is Banff National Park. I would start my journey from capturing sunrise from outside of my tent, having a cup of coffee while enjoying acoustic jazz song, continue with hiking trails wind up to the tea house for bird's-eye views, canoeing at the Lake Louise as my way down, followed by driving across the dramatic Canadian Alps, and rocky mountains from Banff to Jasper National Park. I will do trekking, swimming and fishing at the lake, catching sunset, set up a tent and campfire, while enjoying the glittering of the skies, and gazing for Milky Way, aurora and North Star. To end the day, I’ll put up my night sleeping overlooking the magnificent creation of the universe.
5. What are 3 of your favorite destinations, and why?
I would say, it would be Iceland, Morocco and Norway ? [caption id="attachment_32944" align="alignnone" width="601"]
Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland[/caption] Iceland has wonderful and magnificent landscapes in an island; the wonders and creativity of nature at its best, and untouched by humans. This North Atlantic island nation is a world of knife-cut valleys.
In any direction you go, you'll find incredible sights that will blow your mind. It's the place to see incredible displays of nature. Be it from monumental cliffs and mountains, geothermal hot springs that refreshes the soul, formation of the rocks at the black-sand beaches, its purest water, thundering waterfalls, frozen white glaciers, geysers spring, and not to forget its incredible Northern Lights display in winter. As Iceland is known as the land of Ice and Fire, the volcano activities are still active. I love wandering around the adorable little streets of Reykjavik which is rich in culture and arts. Plus, everywhere you go the people are kind and friendly. I’m already hooked on the place and I'm always left with the feeling that I have to return. [caption id="attachment_32949" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Camel ride in Sahara Dessert, Merzouga, Morocco[/caption] Morocco has almost everything. You can experience all seasons and geographic conditions in one country. I love strolling along Medina, the old and historic city in Marrakech and Fez, and experience the culture and arts on its street. Another unforgotten experience was riding camel and camping in Sahara desert and strolling around the photogenic blue city of Chefchaouen, exploring the kasbah at Ait Ben Haddou and driving along Atlas mountain range that covers almost all parts of Morocco.
Seeing The Moorich or Morrocan architecture detailing including the arabesque, Mashrabiyyah, dome and minaret, and Islamic geometry as well as calligraphy is one of the best experiences. While Norway, is famous for its beautiful fjords. These deep-sea inlets are easily accessible, surrounded by incredible views and natural wonders. [caption id="attachment_32958" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Aurora Borealis seen in Lakselvbukt, Tromso, Norway[/caption] My heart was also caught by it richness in geography. I’m a lover of driving through mountains. The explorable mountains with beautiful scenery and dramatic views, suit the outdoor and adventurous souls. We have unlimited opportunities for using their outdoor surroundings. You can have a picnic or campout, sleep under the stars, explore the natures by foot or ski, or even pick some beautiful flowers. The picturesque fishing towns are also beautiful and wonderful to visit. It’s home to the Mesmerizing Nothern lights or Aurora Borealis. You can see the fantastic natural lightshow at night with your naked eyes almost every night during winter and late autumn. Gazing up above as the vibrant colors light up the surrounding skies is one of a kind. It’s particularly great to view them from Lofoten islands, Troms or Hammerfest! [caption id="attachment_32959" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Fishing village in Tromso, Norway[/caption] Last but not least, its Nordic or Scandinavian architecture, its minimalism and functionality really stole my heart. The usage of raw materials, woods, glasses, pressed steels, monochrome with soft and natural tones, complement so well and give a great atmosphere despite its simplicity.
6. How do you plan your trips to more off-beaten parts of the world? How long does it take to plan?
As a visual person, I always feel like Instagram is a great platform for future plans and trips. I gain lots of information by following those great photographers and filmmakers from all over the world. From Geo-tagging and hashtags, it gives me travel inspiration from people that share the same passion about traveling and uses this platform to share their stories of wonderful places they have been. Other than that, travelogue video on YouTube, travel guide books, and personal blog are always a good source to read.
From these, I will mix and match all the resources, personalize with my own likes and combine them to be my own best personal itinerary, that normally will take me one whole day to study and arrange.
7. As a photographer, what are your must-haves while travelling and what camera would you recommend?
As travelling acquires a lot of energy and stamina for us to stay long and steady for the whole day or along the trip, I always find a way to lessen the burden or weight on my body. Travelling light is my choice; hence best recommended camera to me when you travel is a camera that is light, (most probably mirrorless camera) compact, but powerful enough where it is built with the same quality as a normal DSLR. You should consider what's most important to you – size, weight, price, ease of use, etc. As for me, I would recommend using Sony A7 series for video and photo. Accompanied with good prime lens for portraiture, wide lens for landscape, and telephoto lens to capture more range of subject. [caption id="attachment_32963" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Flying a drone in Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, Iceland[/caption] Other than that, the must-have items for traveling include tripod or gorilla pod, microphone, drone, filters, and gimbal stabilizers.
8. Do you have any tips for capturing a stunning travel photos.
Always have subject on your photos. Identify your subject and background. Make it clean from too many subjects. Use objects in the foreground to frame and thus emphasize the main subject of the picture. [caption id="attachment_32964" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Two Palestinian kids in the old city of Al Quds (Jerusalem), Palestine[/caption] Compose your frame parallel to the horizon, and make sure the composition is balance. Sometimes, points at the intersections of the rule of third grid are strong attractor as well. Put depth on your subject to enhance the beauty and clearness. The blurred background and in-focus foreground are strong compositional elements that focus attention where you want it. Use the elements of high contrast, in-focus foreground objects, and strong lines, curves, shapes, texture, shadow and color.
Last but not least, take photos from your heart and think deeply. Capturing moments at certain occasion can make the photo more alive and tells its own stories. Use your own style and induce meaning in every picture you take, so that you can feel your meaning and emotions exist in it.
9. What's your favorite travel photo and why?
My favorite travel photo would be my photo on my way up to the summit of Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, New Zealand as the hike was a real bear. It was taken at the 2000m above ground during peak winter when the snow is too thick on the edge of the mountain. We could see the surrounding Mount Aspiring Alps along with the foreground. It took us 8 hours to climb following the narrow icy steps, that was so slippery, exposed to fall and challenging to get to the top.
10. Fill in the blank: My hope for the world is that…
…I can inspire and empower more people with my travel journey by capturing wonders and recording moments at each place around the World.
I hope that every person could appreciate life deeper, could accept the differences among people, be loving to one another, to learn and understand the history better where it should be taken as lesson in life. Just like what I always tell myself to believe in our own capability, nothing is impossible and may stop us, may others not be afraid to go after your dream and travel as much as you wish to. You can see all of Neollene's beautiful works on her social media accounts here: Instagram | Website  | Facebook