Posts Tagged ‘travel adventures’

I’m thrilled to welcome budding travel photographer, Gail Reyes, to my blog and into the spotlight. Gail is an open, free, loving spirit who enjoys sharing her passion for travel and photography with others as much as possible. For her, it’s all about being in the moment. It’s about the experience of being somewhere new, or somewhere fascinating, and memorializing those experiences for future reference and reflection. In reading her responses to my questions, it becomes clear that Gail loves life, and has a deep appreciation for nature and creativity of any kind, along with a healthy dose of curiosity about this planet we share. Welcome Gail!

Tell us a little about yourself; where you were born, where you live now, basic background, what you do for a living (if not full-time travel photography), when you got started doing photography, etc.

Hello! First, I am so thrilled to be a featured artist, and traveler, for this story. So, thank you for that (and to the people reading, thank YOU). I am originally from Toronto, Ontario, now living in Phoenix, Arizona. When people comment, “Whoa, that’s quite a switch!” I say, “Yep, polar opposites.” He, He. Honestly, I prefer the heat to the cold. My career is in advertising, where I have gone from Canadian Network, to USA affiliate, and now I work for one of the largest cable companies in the USA. I guess you could say I like television. As for my other love, I got my first decent (film) camera in the 90’s, but I really ramped it up about 8 years ago. I am kind of obsessed about it now. I’ve photographed weddings, events, festivals, and a few portrait sessions. My passion now though, is I love to document my travels, and share those visual stories with the world.

What do you love most and least about travel and travel photography?

One of the things I love about travel is all the places I get to learn about, and see with my own eyes. After all the planning and research that I do, I am then rewarded with the experience of a new city, or country. The smells, the sights, the people are inspirations to me. I like to capture a little of each in my images. My goal is to capture the mood, and the moment. Getting home and going through all my images keeps those memories alive for me. What I don’t like about travel is airports that don’t have any food, or that close early! This is especially irksome if I get stuck there for hours on end.

Who or what inspires you?

I follow a lot of artists, photographers, and travelers on social media. I’m constantly adding locations to my maps, or taking mental notes on where to go, what to see, and what to do. Truthfully, I’m inspired by people who give of themselves freely, without asking anything in return.

What inspires you in your travels?

Vancouver 2010

Oh, that’s an excellent question. I often research festivals, sporting events, short-list countries, or even friends who live in other countries, for ideas on next adventures. I ask myself, what haven’t I done, or what would I like to do? I love watching the Olympics, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be there and see it all in person. So, after careful planning, we attended back-to-back Olympics starting in Canada with Vancouver in 2010, and then the UK with London in 2012. I really wanted to make it to the Opening Ceremonies, but the price tag on that one was a little too rich for my blood. I’ve been a car racing fan for most of my adult life, and have been to races all over North America, but had never attended the Indy 500. Oh, the horror! So, when the 100th Anniversary of the “the granddaddy of them all” was in 2016, I decided it was time. The Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world. The attendance on race day hovers around 400,000 people! What a thrill!

Lion in Tanzania

Another all time favourite of mine is an African safari I went on in 2017. That was something I had dreamed about doing since I was just a wee gal. The adventure took months to plan, and it was an amazing journey I will never forget.

I guess it’s obvious that I’m no stranger to hopping on a plane, just to see a rock concert. Why? I’m a firm believer that there is no better time than now to see it all, and live your best life. None of us will ever be as young as we are right now, so why wait?

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself since you began traveling and doing photography?

I’ve learned that no one knows me better than me! I do a lot of research and crowd sourcing for tips and tricks. I read and listen to all advice, but at the end of the day, everyone has their own list of what they want to do and see. Lately I’ve been thinking about solo travel. I’ve had great travel mates along the way, but I think it’s time for me to spread my wings. Now that surprises me!

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about others and/or the world since you began traveling and doing photography?

I’ve learned that as much as we’re all different, we’re actually quite similar. Overall, people are good, and we all speak the universal language of happy. People are generally excited to interact with others, even if they don’t speak the same language. I know that a smile goes a long way. I’m usually such a dork about languages; I just start gabbing away in English before I realize that no one around me understands what I am saying! I just love connecting with people, so I need to find ways of connecting in a better way.

How do you choose the shots you take and keep?

They always say, “Take lots of photos!”, which is a no-brainer. I look at the leading lines, the composition, the colours, and the mood. Sometimes a funky angle will catch my eye when I am out there shooting, or maybe if I lower my body, I’ll be at that funky angle I’m aiming for. Some easy tricks can change the whole image. If something is too far away, I move. If a tree is cutting into the composition, I shift my perspective. I’m actually not a skilled, professional photographer. I don’t have a lot of gadgets, and I don’t buy new gear as soon as there’s a new version of it on the market. I also like “chimping” nightly (the action of looking at your images on the LCD screen). I usually do that after I take the image, and then at the end of a travel day, deleting any doubles, out of focus shots, or just ones that look kinda, meh. What did I do right? What did I miss? I really see no reason to come home from a vacation with thousands and thousands of images. I try to be a little selective with the shots I keep. I tend to share the images that I love, or that I think others might appreciate and learn from.

Do you have a funny, interesting, or heart-warming story to share about one of your adventures?

One of the events I love to attend is Burning Man. It’s not a typical festival, but more of a temporary city born out of the generosity of its new citizens. The city is built each August by the most creative, fun, and inspiring people. I have met so many great people over the handful of times I have been there. One of the 10 principles of Burning Man is that it’s a gifting economy. You can purchase ice, and coffee, but that’s it. Everything else is given freely, and to whomever you choose (or chooses you). There are no rules about it, really, and it’s always nice to gift a random stranger, and potentially make their day. My yearly gift to new friends has been a hat with the event year painted on it (my husband is crafty). One of our neighbours from years past now sends us pictures of him wearing the hat all over the world. It’s so cool! It really warms my heart that he continues to gift us back, all these years later.

What has been your biggest take-away from your travels?

Don’t let the weather stop you! In fact, give me an overcast day with cloudy conditions any day of the week. Clouds add such drama to an image, which I absolutely love! My husband and I went to New Mexico last year and visited some National Parks, and monuments. We had blue sky, all day, every day. Boring! However, the last day of our vacation turned cloudy, moody, and absolutely beautiful.

What’s next for you, Gail?

My next big trip is a 16-day adventure with my husband, including an 11-day cruise of the Greek Islands, Malta, and Italy. I haven’t been to any of those countries (I know, shocking!), so I’m super excited about it. We have five days in Venice and Rome at the end of our trip, so I’m busy booking skip-the-line tours, train tickets, and unique accommodations. In my opinion, anything I can do up front is key. The last thing I want to do on vacation is figure out what I want to do on vacation. By the time I’m ready to depart, I’ll be packing my carry-on, and a spreadsheet of fun and interesting things to do. That way, I can hit the ground running and pack in as much as possible (leaving room for real Italian pizza, and gelato, of course).


You can follow Gail and her adventures here:

Website: http://www.gailreyesphotography.com

Instagram: Gailkreyes

Facebook: Gail Reyes Photography

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From the street The Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater, Florida looks lovely, but it’s really once I stepped through her doors that I got a true sense of what’s in store. Being greeted by warm smiles and a friendly “hello” sets a welcoming tone, but it’s the allure of the pool, palms, and ocean that draw me in. Now I’ve been to Florida countless times before, but the stately elegance, understated seashell decor, and cool air were balms to my soul on my arrival on the very humid August day we arrived. I was with a group of event planners from Strategic Incentive Solutions on a site inspection, and since this was my first foray into this arena, I was excited to see St. Pete’s/Clearwater from a whole new angle.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed with our host venue. The Sandpearl is a luxury five-star hotel, and after a day packed with visits to several other venues and destinations, dinner at The Sandpearl that evening was a special affair in the private wine room. Our waiter, Chris, kept us all laughing by regaling us with information and hilarious stories throughout the spectacular meal. Afterward, we wandered outside, drinks in hand, to take in the cooler breezes, many tiny lights strung everywhere, and groups of guests clustered around the pool and beachfront fire pits. The night was crystal clear, the moon hanging large and low in the sky. I couldn’t wait to walk the beach and dip my toes into what we’d been assured was bathwater temperature water, but that would have to wait till morning.

At first light, I made a quick cup of complimentary coffee in my room in the coffee maker set out for guest’s use, padded out to the balcony, and settled in to watch the hotel wake up. At first there was little light, other than those around the pool area directly below me. Stretching as far as my eyes could see was the Gulf of Mexico. I was at peace in the half-light, sipping my coffee alone. As the sun rose in the sky, signs of life became apparent, as workers came out and headed to the beach to rake and clean up for the day’s activities. On impulse, I decided to hurry up and headed out to walk the beach before gearing up for a day packed with activities with the group.

True to the staff’s promise, the water was as warm as a bath, and since I’ve always visited Florida in the March/April time frame before, it was a new experience for me. What followed was a whirlwind day of many personal firsts; exquisite meals and tours of two additional luxury area hotels, and an afternoon on a chartered catamaran, where we watched dolphins play and swim alongside our boat while we were treated to cool, refreshing drinks, snacks, and incredible waterside views of the marinas, resorts, and beaches strung out along the coastline. I quickly came to the realization that the St. Pete’s/Clearwater area I thought I knew had grown up. I must admit to being impressed with the vibrancy, elegance, and luxury offered in a place I’d always thought of as sleepy and perhaps a bit “old-fogey”. Let me tell you, there’s nothing sleepy or old about it! From upscale venues and restaurants, to wide expanses of sand and sea, we experienced some of the very best the travel and tourism trade in Florida have to offer.

That’s not all though. We were there to check out the venues as potential destinations for events, and were pleased to discover that this aspect of each venue exceeded any needs our clients might have. Even more impressive is The Sandpearl’s commitment to what they call, “green meetings”, where biodegradable products, energy efficient lighting, and resort-wide recycling is in full effect in an effort to help protect the Gulf Coast’s unique natural resources. For today’s travelers and event planners, that’s important, since more people are aware of the negative effects humans can and do have on nature.

For me, as it is with most travelers, whether for business, pleasure, or a combination of both, it’s always about the experiences and memories I take away with me. Whether engaging in exciting team building adventures, a sunset dinner cruise, or a must-visit to the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium and introduction to Winter, the dolphin (see my previous post, “It’s All About The Dolphin”), I came away with a tremendous appreciation for this incredible destination, venues, and the community’s commitment to conservation. For anyone seeking an exciting luxury Florida destination along the Gulf of Mexico, I’d highly recommend St. Pete’s/Clearwater and The Sandpearl.

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