Jonas Hornehoj, a young, wanderlust soul who travels all over the globe capturing exquisite landscapes, wildlife scenes, jaw-dropping drone shots, and more that will make you fall in love with his photography. We were extremely fortunate to get in conversation with Travel photographer Jonas Hornehoj.
In this interview, he talks to us about his most favorite places and his love for exploring out-of-the-box locations. He also shares some incredible tips on how you can take better travel photographs.
Read along for some candid conversations with Jonas Hornehoj.
We are sure you’ll love reading it as much as we loved conducting it!
- Photography as a hobby to a full-time profession. How has your journey been?
That’s definitely a tough question to answer just like that, but if I had to explain in just a few sentences – I would have to say that photography and videography have been my personal gateway to learning more about the world and managing to gain a plethora of experience in many avenues of my life.
I set out to travel 3 years ago with very little knowledge about photography or film making – it is now my full-time profession.
It has been a hell of a ride so far and I can’t wait to see what’s in store moving forward!
- You capture incredible drone shots of forests, coral reefs, and beaches. Which has been your most favorite place to shoot to date?
Another impossible question to answer haha, favorite place to shoot…. I would have to name a couple as each has its own reason.
One of them would have to be Palau Padar in Indonesia, simply because this is amongst the top 5 most picturesque places I have ever been. Another one would be the Algarve coast as I managed to find the perfect golden hour light lasting for hours on end when I visited in December.
I could go on and on about naming locations, but if I absolutely had to give 1 single destination which was my favorite place to shoot, however, I think I would have to say the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, and I couldn’t even fly my drone here – so that’s saying something! Petra just boosts a perfect combination of cultural wealth combined with aesthetic mastery, not to mention the incredible natural colors found there.
- You love exploring hidden gems and not-so-usual destinations. Any reason why you prefer such out-of-the-box locations?
Honestly, I think it’s because the people who I have looked up to the most as creative photographers, and the people who I have had the pleasure of meeting and learning from or at times even working with, have all been individuals who blew me away with their unique take on travel photography.
Being a good photographer only takes you to a certain extent in this very developed industry.
There are so many people nowadays who are good enough at photography to be considered professional – also because the gear and equipment available to average retail consumers are at such a high level now that anyone can take a decent photo.
The only way to REALLY stand out as a travel photographer now is to offer a unique take on both editing, framing, and most important locations.
I will be the first to openly say, however, that amongst my peers, I wouldn’t be considered as the person who has been to the most unusual or unexplored places. To someone who doesn’t travel full time of course it appears that way, but there is still so much more to explore!
- Behind every amazing picture, there is a story. Can you share any such story with us?
The best way to put words to this is probably the story of telling stories. It sounds very oxymoronic of course, but I find that I always try to tell a story with each image.
Whether it is a naturally occurring moment or a staged/framed shot – there is always a reason behind the framing, the pose, the execution of the shot. I find the storytelling aspect to be one of the most important to pique any interest in a viewer from the get-go.
You want every aspect of the image to play a certain role in what the image should depict – and this can be extremely difficult, but with every image, we try!
So yes, behind every image there is a story, but there isn’t one that jumps out at me more than any other, as it is the collection of images that tells the entire story.
- How big a role did photography play in your life before you chose it as a profession?
No role whatsoever haha. Creativity has always been a part of my life, starting with instruments and then moving more into the visually creative expression.
Everything from drawing to spray painting kept me creative from a young age, but as I felt my life filling up with other things that seemed to occupy my time, I eventually found photography which seemed to occupy less of my time when I started, but still provided me with that creative itch. Little did I know at the time that 3-4 years later I would be doing it full time professionally.
- When did you start taking photographs?
In 2016 I went to Thailand for a 3-month internship for university, and on that trip, I borrowed my mom’s canon 450d, and it didn’t take me long to love the process of shooting and heading out on adventures with the idea of certain images or locations in mind.
At the same time I was VERY into the idea of flying a drone, so I worked the 3rd job in order to save up to get my first drone.
3 months after I managed to get this drone, I finished university and decided I would set out on a trip to southeast Asia. Starting in the Philippines, my plan was to head around southeast Asia, taking photos and filming along the way – with the hope of getting good enough to cover my travel expenses.
I sold my belongings in Denmark, bought a camera that at the time I was convinced would be a good all-round camera for me which was the Panasonic GH5 – which actually stayed with me as my primary camera until December 2019. It managed to take me from barely being able to call myself an amateur, to shooting for a living
- We love your pictures. What inspires you the most to take such amazing shots?
I think my source of inspiration has changed a lot in the process over the last 3 years, as I have developed from a travel enthusiast to now living a lifestyle that keeps me on the road more or less full time, hunting down clients to make a living – so a sense of business has become a very strong part of my inspiration as I always want to improve and out-do myself.
I do think, however, that in the core sense of the word inspiration, what truly inspires me is the feeling that I get when I get up at 4 to go on a sunrise mission and no one else is around. The sense of feeling almost like anyone who isn’t there at the time is missing out on this feeling that I’m lucky enough to have – it makes me appreciate that a camera in hand has become a job.
All the places I have been lucky enough to see, and then create eternal still memories from just because I took photography seriously.
Building a never-ending portfolio of my life, even if my creative business failed and I ended up doing something else – I know that I would forever have this digital scrapbook of all the places I have seen and experienced.
Not to mention the way in which each of the images I have shared online is linked to a distinct memory and connection to people I have met. It’s so hard to put into words but I guess what inspires me the most is knowing just how valuable each new experience is for my development both personally and creatively – but also from a business perspective.
- Among your works, which one is your favorite?
Some really tough questions here! I think it would have to be this shot from Egypt for quite a few reasons.
1. Location – I have always been fascinated by Egypt and the Ancient history that you can SEE in Egypt – it’s so evident and there are so many stories to understand there.
2. Conditions – When I went to visit this place, it was on a group trip as I was shooting for a travel company, so I was pretty limited in terms of timing and shooting according to the planned schedule.
We were heading here at around 11 am, which isn’t usually ideal for shooting with soft light. But I lucked out from a photography perspective because there was a sandstorm happening on the day that we visited which helped diffuse the sunlight above AND create the perfect sense of depth between the sphinx and the pyramids – so got very lucky there!
3. Personal accomplishment – This 14-day trip I was on through Egypt and Jordan was my first ever trip where all expenses were covered, and a small sum was also involved as payment. So it was basically at this time that it became entirely clear to me that I was on the right track and entirely able to turn this into a sustainable living if I kept pushing.
4. AND finally – on this trip, against all odds, I met my partner Emma (@emmanicoleshaw) – she was on the group trip with her friend, and I was on the trip on a job for the travel company.
She was based in London at the time and I was traveling full time, but somehow we got along so well that we actually did long distance for 8-9 months where we saw each other maybe a few days a month, where after she joined me full time.
Now due to COVID, we are apart again for a while but in December we’ll be able to meet up again! So yeah that trip to Egypt and Jordan meant a whole lot to me!
- Can you tell us about the biggest highlight in your career so far?
There have been a few, one of them being the trip to Egypt and Jordan, but some others include:
– helping my friends Marie & Jake (@mariefeandjakesnow) filming for their fundraiser campaign which took us to South Africa for 2 weeks, where we were filming every day and experiencing things that money can’t buy – it was truly a once in a lifetime.
Another thing that has stood out to me has been working side by side with my friend Jordan Hammond (@jordhammond) on several occasions – before I set out on my adventure, I had followed Jord for a while and he was one of the people I looked up to the most – so working with him on several projects and product development has played a big role for me.
And finally, working with so many different people and meeting so many incredibly talented and friendly open-minded individuals has been the key element for me to continue doing this. I have never done anything else where I meet so many people who are all looking to be better at every aspect of their lives, and it’s incredibly powerful! Working with companies and brands that operate worldwide is pretty crazy too!
- What are you passionate about besides photography?
Physical and mental well-being
Relationships with people
These are all fairly generic answers but going into detail would take hours and hours, so summing them up in bullet point form was the best option.
In all honesty, each of these 4 points in my life has shaped me to become who I am, and focusing on these points have given me more value, and helped me provide value to others – in ways that I hadn’t otherwise experienced
- Your top 3 tips for budding travel photographers
My top 3 tips would have to be
1. It’s not about the gear, but rather about the photographer. So KEEP ON PRACTICING. Stop dwelling on what camera and lenses to get before going out to shoot! You will very quickly find out what works for you and what doesn’t, so don’t spend thousands of dollars and gear before you have an ACTUAL need and reason to do so.
2. Offer value to others as they will offer it right back to you – this is true in all aspects of life in my opinion, and photography is by no means an exception to this. If you look up to anyone, offer your services to them as there is a good chance you could learn A LOT from them. If you offer value people are a lot more likely to associate themselves with you, and also offer the value back.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY – and this one is definitely not for everyone but it is exactly what worked for me – put yourself in a situation where you HAVE to become a master at your craft. I sold everything in Denmark and invested everything 100% into myself and my goal of turning this into a sustainable business.
I didn’t have a job to fall back on, or an apartment, or a network of help. I believe that the only way to REALLY blossom in this industry and space is to force yourself into a position where there is no option not to succeed. Most people will want to do something but put in a half-assed effort if they know they have security in other aspects of life.
Keep pushing yourself, keep reaching out to other creators, keeping working hard hours. You will start getting better and better, to the point where you can make a living off of your work. I really believe if I can do it, anyone can do it – it all comes down to your mindset and how badly you want it!
You can check out more work from Jonas Hornehoj on his website here.