For most people, traveling with a camera on hand is all about taking “selfies” in front of the most iconic and scenic spots, doing bizarre/wacky poses, or capturing the most mouth-watering shots of every sumptuous meal served on their plate. However, there are a few who see travel and photography in a more meaningful and creative perspective. Such is the case of multi-awarded and internationally acclaimed London-based Filipino-American photographer Yen Baet.
“Travel and photography go well together. I can’t imagine traveling and not taking photos, or vice versa,” says Baet.
Baet’s name is almost synonymous to “astounding images” that have graced the covers and pages of books, airline and photography magazines, calendars, international catalogues and websites. Her exceptional works have been recognized and published in some of the world-renowned and largest media outfits including National Geographic, CNN Travel, Yahoo!, UK Telegraph, The Guardian, Digital Cameras and many more.
Young as she is, Baet has already received numerous accolades from no less than National Geographic itself. These award-winning photos include “Rainy Night in Hallstatt” (2011), “Breakfast by the Bay” (2012), her Thailand gallery (2012), and “Tuk-Tuk Night Ride” (2013). Pollux Awards named her photographer of the year for architecture in 2012. The same year, the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards gave her an honorable mention for portraits award.
Baet says that joining photo contests is always tough. That’s why she devotes so much time and effort (no matter what time of the day or what the weather conditions are) in capturing the best image she could possibly deliver. “It’s not only in National Geographic but in most photo contests that I’d think the competition would be stiff. There are thousands of great photographers out there.”
According to Baet, “Rainy Night in Hallstatt” was her very first entry to any photo competition, making it very special to her. Being able to bag the top award encouraged her to continue with her passion. Plus, she won $13,000 worth of trip to Peru, allowing her to experience the historic Machu Picchu.
Baet’s proudest moment though was her first solo exhibit in 2013 in New York. It was her prize from National Geographic for the series of photos she took while traveling with veteran photographer Alison Wright in Thailand.
Baet says winning photo competitions and mounting solo exhibitions are not always the most important things when it comes to being a professional photographer. It’s also about the sacrifices you make and even the risks that you take – from nailing a challenging shot, to fighting the temptation to sleep in when she needs to be out before dawn and to traveling to a foreign land alone as a woman.
“I find that I always need to give myself a pat in the back for these little things because they all lead to the big picture and my ultimate goal, which is delivering successful photographs,” she explains.
The young photographer believes that the hard work that she puts in every time she is behind her camera is what makes her successful in what she does. It pays to have perseverance and dedication, she says. “[Imagine] Getting up early in the morning, going to bed late at night after a long day of walking, scouting locations and taking photos –all these without full guarantee of ideal weather conditions. And the most important part is to have to do this over and over and over again (and not complain).
The great Aristotle has once said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ I then make photography a habit.”
One of the best things about photography, Baet says, is that it allows her to travel as well as gain experiences that she considers priceless and sacred – the intangible things that one doesn’t always see in her images.
“It’s the opportunity to explore and discover and have all of that documented. Not many people have the ability to travel, so I consider myself extremely privileged and I take full advantage [of it].”
When not taking photos, Baet makes time for her other talents like drawing, writing poems and stories, and painting.