Workshop and roadtrip in the USA - Martin Podt Photography
Me in a canoe

Photography is my passion. When it comes to photography, to me there is nothing better than capturing the most beautiful moments at the most beautiful places and especially forests. It has been scientifically proven that being in forests can decrease undue stress and potential burnout. I know by now that it indeed works like that for me. Being in forests makes me happy and that is the main reason why I like forest photography so much. But after having made so many forests photos in the area where I live, I felt the need to explore new paths and I was ready for new adventures. I wanted to do something else, something more.

I wanted something more and something else in the sense of visiting different, new places or revisiting places I have been to before but not photographed properly, such as Madeira and Southern Germany and Austria. And something else in the sense of exploring other kinds of photography. And I also wanted more in the sense of working with other people instead of working mainly alone. Christopher Johnson McCandless wrote the famous words 'happiness is only real when shared'. I really believe in these words. I really enjoy having adventurous experiences with other people, such that later you can reminisce your best moments in life with them.

Me in a canoe in the Texan swamps

In 2017, Yen Do and I got to know each other through our photos. Yen was the biggest fan of my forest photos and I really liked her self portraits. Based on what I saw from her, I thought she could become a great photographer. But what does that have to do with my dreams of doing more and something else? Well, basically everything, as you will see while reading this article. 

In 2017 I asked Yen if I could have some of her photos to practice my retouching skills. I promised that in exchange for some of her photos I would teach her about my Photoshop knowledge. And ever since, things went fast and in a direction we never had foreseen beforehand. After a few months we had developed the first version of our own workflow for portrait retouching. In the beginning we only worked together on the editing of photos but in summer 2018, we also started shooting together. And our crowning achievement after one year of working together was our first workshop about portrait retouching in October 2018, in Houston. And although the cliche quote 'happiness is a journey, not a destination' fits the way I like to work (it's important for me to make sure that photography stays a passion), I like setting goals and making plans, and I am very proud of what we have achieved in just one year.

Yen Do: not only a great photographer, but also a great model

After the workshop in Houston, we made a roadtrip through Texas and Louisiana. And this combined everything I was dreaming of. In Texas and Louisiana you can find some of the world's most beautiful alleys, forests and swamps. 

The roadtrip was about photography, but we did no only do landscape photography. Helen and Vu Nguyen, and Bailey Terry joined us on our adventure and with them we also did a lot of portrait photography. And maybe the best of all: we were experiencing beautiful adventures with a group of great people. The quotes I used before, 'happiness is only real when shared' and 'happiness is a journey, not a destination', fit this roadtrip best.

We drove by car from Houston to the plantations near New Orleans. Driving the roads through the rural area of Louisiana with bayous, swamps, beautiful bald cypresses, and Spanish moss covered trees everywhere, is an adventure by itself. The Big Easy, as New Orleans is also called, with it's rich culture and great cuisine is an experience of a whole different dimension. After a few days in Louisiana we went back to Texas, to the swamps at the border with Louisiana. It turned out that that is the perfect place to relax. A place to be more in the moment and to forget about our modern, fast-paced, constantly-connected lives and our smaller and bigger problems. After slowing down a few days at that place, you feel ultimately peaceful and relaxed. 

Yen, Helen, Vu, and Bailey thanks for this great experience. And for those of you who were not with us on this trip: I hope that our photos bring across a bit of the feeling of this trip and that in this way you can enjoy this experience a bit with us.

The photos in the article are made by Yen and me. Click the photos for a larger version. For more photos that we made during this trip, have a look at my galleries and visit the website of Yen.

Bailey Terry

Helen and Vu

Typically Southern USA: plantations and swamps

First landscape shot by Yen, with some help from me...

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