Originally from the Philippines, Elen Gales lived in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Nepal. Exposed to different languages and lifestyles, she immersed herself in various social norms and cultures. In 2001, her work with Young Asia Television in Colombo, Sri Lanka, gave her a new opportunity to approach this cultural immersion. She helped produce television documentaries for international NGOs on issues relating to human rights, sustainable development, environmental conservation as well as cultures and lifestyles in Asia.
It was during her residence in Kathmandu in 2006 that she discovered photography. Her television background greatly influenced her photographic genre and style. With her camera, she explored Kathmandu valley and the surrounding rural areas and created her very first portfolio. Poverty had been the central theme, and the bitter winter of Nepal gave it a more profound background. Photographing the local people, their situations and the environment they lived in, she attempted to combine photojournalism and fine art. Elen Gales believes that it is just as important for an image to have a compelling message as it is to be valued for its visual artistry.
1) Do you have a friend or family member who inspires you to travel?
I am lucky to have inspiring friends who travel and create art while on the road. One particular friend is Deneth Piumakshi who is an artist and fashion designer from Sri Lanka. She travels to discover places and to be inspired for her new creations. She taught me to just hop on a plane, make no plans and take chances. It’s not as easy as it sounds but it’s all worth it. She went to Kathmandu as a tourist and ended up art student and a gallery curator. She went to India and by chance work a Bollywood company. She came to visit Washington DC and found herself at a World Bank conference seated among the speakers and was invited to speak about her cause (Ethical fashion). Now, she’s in Paris for her art residency and her amazing stories are increasing by the number too.
2) Have you inspired any of your friends to go somewhere you’ve been?
A fellow photographer once emailed me after he saw one of my photos published in a magazine. The photos inspired him to visit Kathmandu. I put him in touch with some of the people that I know who lives there. It’s one thing that I also love about travelling, it’s the camaraderie that you gain from it.
3) What are your favorite pictures from the trip and why?
I was only 19 years old when I first visited Italy and that was my first trip abroad. I stayed in Tuscany for 45 days and it was a great experience. Everything was different from what I was used to as a university student back in the Philippines. It inspired me to travel more and I remember making a wish to Fontana di Trevi in Rome that I may be able to visit again …and I did. I tossed another coin to the fountain for that same wish.
The Grand Canal view from the Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy.
The hustle and bustle of tourists in Venice comes to a halt at the Rialto bridge.
Walk down any canals any time of the day and you will pass under lines of clothing hanging to dry. I love this photo because it’s a depiction of an everyday norm in Venice. We all know that Venice is a very touristy place but this scene separates it from that notion…that indeed locals also live in Venice.
You can’t think of Venice and not think of the traditionally dressed gondolieri.
A road trip along tuscany is a great way to see the countryside. The farms, villas, barns and italian cypresses are the best things that describe my tuscan experience.
A child enjoying a typical tuscan afternoon in Peccioli.
Venetian mask, Venice, Italy
Italian vespa, Trieste, Italy
Trieste by Night, Trieste, Italy
Florentine, Florence, Italy
Window painter, Pisa, Italy
Street Artist - Florence, Italy
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