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.
Shaban, the Shisha Man Of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.
School children beg for money outside of a temple in Cambodia.
A man pauses for a reflective moment in the Taj Mahal, India.
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.
A woman sweeps the streets of Oropesa Peru in the afternoon light.
A group of children sit on their boat outside of their home in a floating village on the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia.
A boy shows he can write his ABC’s at a school in India.
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.
Lek Chailert often sings Thai lullabies to her elephants to help them fall asleep after a long day at the Elephant Nature Park.
A Monk walks through the Tep Preah nom Pagoda while a girl and a dog play in the humid mid morning Cambodian air.
A boy stands outside of his home in a barrio in Granda, Nicaragua.
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.
A monk enjoys a laugh inside a Pagoda in Cambodia.
A girl laughs on the steps of a mosque in Old Delhi, India.
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.
An old merchant woman takes a nap at her stall in Peru.
Young children take a break from lighting off fireworks during the festival of Diwali in Delhi, India
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.
An old man enjoys a cigerette while he plays a local board game in the central square in Al-Salt, Jordan.
A merchant outside of a narrow ally way in Al-Salt, Jordan.
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?”
A merchant waits for a buyer on the streets of Oropesa, Peru.
A man walks outside of a Mosque in Old Delhi, India.
You can see more of Michael’s work at BonocoreVisualStudios.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and the Resource Travel blog.
Very good reading!
Thaks so much Alex!
Nice going Michael! I knew the pic of the boy from our trip to Nicaragua would make your cut!
Thanks Mitch!!! Yeah, that one is a classic. I don’t think it will ever leave my portfolio.
Great read, Michael!!
Thanks so much Paul!
Great post, and awesome photos! :-)
Great article and words, Michael! What I REALLY LOVE about your photos is how you go off the touristy path and venture into the daily lives of your subjects and capture their true worlds with such amazing intimate portraits that I envy immensely in your fine work. Though I’m on the same travel boat as you, I have yet to travel to other parts in Asia and South America. Yes, your visual stories are certainly powerful and striking! And I look forward to seeing more from you.