It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Michael Bonocore!
My Three Inspirations
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be making a living by traveling internationally 7 months a year while taking photos and making films, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me I would start a company called Resource Travel to share inspirational travel visual stories, I would have called you crazy. But that’s exactly what I do. And every day I try to figure out how it all happened.
I mean, I didn’t even leave the United States until I was 27 years old. Traveling and experiencing the world had mostly never even crossed my mind. I wasn’t against the idea at all, I just hadn’t had that “wanderlust” feeling since childhood, when I would thumb through my father’s National Geographic magazines.
But that all changed when I found the first real inspiration of my life. Photography. Even at 27 years old, and I had never really found anything that I was passionate about. I signed on to photograph around Peru with a company called The Giving Lens. This would be a scouting trip to work with an NGO in Oropesa, Peru called Picalor House. That trip would be the start of what would become the second real inspiration of my life. Travel. When I hit the ground in Peru, I noticed that looking at the world through my viewfinder made me see things that I had never seen before. I saw smiles, happiness, tears, and pain on the faces that I would encounter. And I felt compelled to capture those faces through my lens. And surprisingly, even the people with the tears and pain would let me take their portrait. I learned that even if someone was having a bad day, they would still let you into their world.
I would talk to people and try to get to know their stories. Every face has a story to go with it, and I was determined to hear them. Even if I never tell the stories when I post the photos, I will always remember them, and that is what inspires me to approach the people I meet on my travels, because I never know what their story is unless I ask them.
I quickly became consumed with the idea of telling visual stories through the faces that I encountered on those dusty Peruvian streets. When I returned to my home in San Francisco, California, I couldn’t think about anything but traveling, camera in hand, ready to convey the emotions that I felt being in that foreign land. Soon after, I started leading workshops for the The Giving Lens, and have been fortunate to work with organizations around the world, helping to tell their stories and to highlight both the pain and successes that come from their tireless efforts.
While most of the travel photography you see today consists of beaches, hot air balloons, and people standing on the edges of cliffs, I still believe in also telling the stories of the people who aren’t fortunate enough to live by the resorts or walk down the main roads where the tourist shops reside. I fell in love with telling the stories of the people who make their home country come alive. Sometimes, the stories aren’t always pretty. Sometimes they can be rather uncomfortable to witness. But there is a big world out there, and a very small part of it lives in the tourist towns.
My love for sharing the powerful travel visual stories that I see every day is what led me to start Resource Travel. This has turned into the third inspiration of my life. I believe that, as a community, we can help others learn about the happiness and the pain of the world through our photographs. That is what inspires me to share the world’s stories. As my friend Chris Burkard once said “If you aren’t sharing your work, then what are you doing?”