I am wondering lately about the world of a true travel photographer, and Max Lowe has graciously allowed me to pick his brain. I’ve known him for six months and have watched him cross the globe several times already. His world is an exotic and fascinating place with a continually changing backdrop – an endless array of visceral images I imagine are too elaborate to really process. I met Max Lowe last summer, by happenstance in Montana. I was immediately taken by the way he saw the world. He has these bright childlike eyes and an infectious laugh, and has already seen the sunrise in more countries than I may in a lifetime.
I recently caught up with Max over some Montana Mule’s, and slipped into his world for a moment. He happened to be home in Bozeman, Montana for a few days with his cat Dingus. It was a rare rest period. I caught him in between skiing in Japan, sailing the high seas in Pirate ships, shooting stories for National Geographic, and playing himself in the new IMAX film, National Parks Adventure. (The film is set for release this month.) And what is most incredible is that no matter how far he’s been, and how much he’s seen, his wonderment in the present moment never wavers. And I am wondering if the more you go, the better you get at staying?
LF: You are home right now, what does that mean?
ML: I think being home for me, means a few things. I think it means reset and peace, and peace of mind. It means being able to step back from having my guard up. Not that I’m a super guarded person, but when you’re traveling you’re always on your toes. So, coming home it’s nice to have a place where I can just kind of unlock everything and wake up every morning and know where I’m going to get my cup of coffee. It’s nice as an adventure photographer and travel writer to have a home base where you have a routine, because occasionally having a routine is very nice.
LF: How does one even become an adventure photographer, as a career, not just an Instagram persona?
ML: Well, first you have to go on adventures: big, scary, sweet ass adventures. And then you have to take a camera with you and know vaguely how to use it. And that’s about it.
LF: Was there a point though where it became viable? I mean I could do those things, but I’m not going to be able to support myself.
ML: It’s like any business you start small. I started shooting my friends in college. I started working for a small publication, mostly so I could go to free concerts as a journalist. I never really expected that I would be doing what I’m doing now. I got a business degree and figured I’d just travel for a year or two. But I applied for the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, and I got it. Surprisingly.
LF: You say that casually. Tell me more. What was the grant for?
ML: The Young Explorers Grant., National Geographic offers it via their website for anyone in the world who wants to apply. You just have to be under the age of twenty-six. So, it’s kind of how they seed young up and comers. There are a lot of grants for science and cultural studies. There’s actually not that many for photographers. It was pretty incredible. It definitely gave me a huge boost in confidence in myself and in my work.
LF: These photos we have are from a trip recently to Indonesia. Where if I am correct you are traveling via pirate ship?
ML: Yes, that’s true, for the time we were there. There are lots of ships that do these trips. Ours was called the Al Irsa, it means The Night Journey in Arabic. They’re these old school style double mast wooden sailing ships. There’s tons of them cruising around over there. We chartered a two week long trip and sailed from the island of Flores, north east of Bali. Then cruised back through Komodo national park, which is where Komodo Island is and where Komodo dragons live. We did a bunch of diving and surfing and explored all these islands and lived on this ship for like two weeks.
LF: Where is the best place you’ve ever woken up?
ML: In the last year, definitely waking up on the top deck of the sailing ship was pretty awesome. We would park in one spot for the day, and then the ship moves over night. So, you sleep under the stars and wake up every morning with the sun and it lights up the world around you and the sails are above you. Just the sounds of water moving underneath, the wind and the rigging creaking. One of the coolest sleeping places I’ve found.
LF: You have a magical life.
ML: Hey, you just got to seek It out. It’s out there for anybody to experience.
LF: You’ve been all over the world. Where are the prettiest women?
ML: Probably, the USA. I’m not going lie. We got a lot of diversity here. The best of everywhere. But, Scandinavia does have some pretty beautiful women, a high concentration.
LF: What three things can you not live without? And you can’t say your camera.
ML: Probably, my cat Dingus. I like my cat a lot. He’s one of those anchors here at home. I mean I hate to say it, probably my IPhone. And… I’ll have to get back to you on the third one.
LF: How FAST do you live?
ML: Depends. I like to go slow sometimes. When I’m out exploring nature I like to slow it down a bit. If you’re going too fast you won’t notice all the cool stuff.