Capturing Moments While on the Road


A young child raises his hand to a group of entertainers on stilts before the opening ceremonies of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Manama, Bahrain. Photo by: Tony Villalobos May


The photos you see here are not meant to be the most spectacular images ever seen. They are not meant to be technically perfect or life-changing. They are intended to stimulate the imagination.

Whether or not they succeeded in that is up to you.

When most people think about travel photography, they think of riding elephants in Africa, and sipping martinis on the beach, do not kid yourself – you will only be drinking Gatorade from the back of a smelly bus for most of the time desperately hoping to find the next amazing picture.

As I try to build up a life of travel photography, I have had the privilege of being paid to travel to two separate countries and over forty states, dedicating months of my life on the road at a time looking for that next shot. But wanting to travel is always just an innate desire to want to see something new, to experience something new.

Members of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps march into a competition held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Photo by: Tony Villalobos May

Travel photography is focused less on being part of a documentary, but instead, are geared towards exploring the innate wonder that you have when you are seeing something abstract for the first time. From sunsets that bleed through the clouds on a Texas football stadium to the joy of seeing an exotic flower for the first time halfway across the world – traveling is about that split second in time where you are filled with nothing but excitement and awe.

That is what is great about travel photography, you are not just going through the motions – because there are not always motions to go through. Sometimes, you just have to wing it.

Finding art on the road can be challenging. Sleeping in a van for three months at a time, struggling to find the nearest WiFi can definitely suck the life out of you. But that is often the nature of the job, and oftentimes these moments are what can make or break the trip.

A young boy attempts to take pictures of race cars at the F1 Grand Prix before eventually growing frustrated and just watching instead. Photo by: Tony Villalobos May

When I was in Bahrain, I struggled to find something in the desolate urban landscape that stuck out to me, tired from getting lost on the bus system I was desperately looking for some fantastical pieces of art when I finally threw my camera down and looked up with my own eyes.

The core principles of what I was seeing was the same – bustling streets and salesmen every corner and more advertisements than I could read. But it was all in Arabic. What was being sold by vendors ranged from computers to local clothing. It was all neatly wrapped up with Bahranian flags lining the buildings. That was my shot because that was the art I was looking for.

A back alley of Old Town Muharraq is seen filled with cars and pedestrians in Manama. The Muharraq is a maze of alley ways and shops that weave through traditional houses. Photo by: Tony Villalobos May

Travel photography is not always about taking pictures of kings handing out awards or pretty sunsets, but to me, it was always about the pure adrenaline rush of discovering something new.

The next time you go on a family vacation or visit your friend across the country, bring your camera. Take pictures of your friends and family and the sunset. But always ask yourself “what is different, and what is exciting?”

For me, that excitement came when a woman walked her dogs across abandoned railroad tracks in Frankfurt, or watching as members of a competitive marching band walk steadily towards their big show in the Rose Bowl and when a child was frustrated at his cell phone for not being able to take a picture of Formula 1 cars in Manama.

It is familiar and played out, but it is human nature, wonder and excitement. And it is all the great things about being on the road.