Photography by Simon White & Rey Canlas, Jr.
Simon White is the travel companion you wish you had.
An architect based in London, Simon spends much of his time between the UK and East Asia. There’s no surprise, then, that he was in China when he snapped his iconic #shotoniPhone6 photo seen by millions as a part of Apple’s global ad campaign. He has an eye for the unconventional, a feel for those things laden with emotion, and an insatiable hunger to make every shot better than his last. Follow Simon’s journey on Instagram.
I’m Simon White, and this is How I Travel.
What do you love most about traveling?
Unexpected moments. The adventure aspect of traveling appeals to me a lot – with adventure comes excitement and fun. When you’re traveling, you don’t have to know what’s around the next bend, you can relax and enjoy the moment. Sometimes with a big trip you have to plan and plan and plan, but more often than not I find the most memorable moments are the ones that you least expect. For me, these experiences walk hand-in-hand with adventure.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through all your travels?
“When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”
I came across this quote in a newspaper article a few years ago and it stuck with me. I think it’s spot on – travel changes people by giving us direct contact with other cultures, which alters the way we think about our surroundings. So when we return home, our perception of what was may have changed. If we don’t experience living outside our comfort zones it’s easy to lose our appreciation of where we live and what we have. I’ve come to appreciate the people and places of home a lot more than I used to.
How has travel changed you as a person?
Life is short, so enjoy it. I’ve learned to live in the moment and appreciate the smaller things in life, yet grasp at the big opportunities that come my way.
What’s the one travel experience/story that has had the biggest impact on you?
It’s difficult to pick out just one experience, but there was a moment last year when I was selected to take part in Apple’s #shotoniPhone6 ad campaign. That was the first time that one of my photographs received mainstream recognition, and it was after this that I gained the confidence to take photography (architectural and landscape) a bit more seriously. At the time I was actively involved with Shanghai’s Instagram community and was doing lots of travelling in and around China. I learned that acts of travel and community engagement are the catalysts for creativity.
My featured image (above) was shot whilst travelling in Nanjing with some of Shanghai’s finest creatives. We had gone there on the hunt for photogenic architecture – the building pictured was designed by the recently deceased Zaha Hadid.
'The most memorable moments are the ones that you least expect.' - Simon White Click To Tweet
Simon’s 7 Favorite Travel Items
The best gifts are always handmade. One of my best friends made this for me for Christmas last year. I use it to jot down travel plans, note locations/buildings, and make equipment lists.
I love the natural look to film, and it’s nice to not have to spend 20 minutes editing each image when you get home. Less time spent in front of the computer = more time for shooting! Film also forces you to think about each shot, because each shot costs money. This means that you won’t end up with all of those typical tourist shots; instead, you try a little harder to capture the real essence of a place.
I like to use people in my pictures to give space a sense of scale and/or focus. The remote shutter release allows me to take multiple self portraits when I’m traveling solo.
These are the kind of moments I live for: sipping hot chocolate atop a mountain whilst watching the sun set, with not another soul in sight. I never head into the mountains without my camping stove.
Small and portable, the Joby GorillaPod is my alternative to lugging a heavy tripod around for a week. I use it mostly for long exposures, but it’s also useful for self-portraits.
With minimal distortion, the 18mm Moment wide lens is my go-to iPhone accessory, particularly for architecture and interior shots.
Whether I’m out shooting all day in the capital or wild camping in Scotland, my Xiaomi power bank will always be nearby in case I need more juice. [Editor’s Note: Of all the items that our travelers bring with them, a portable battery pack is the most common, yet everyone prefers their own brand. Jessica, Pete, Rachel, and Sean all like different brands.)
Also, since so many of you have been asking us for them, here's our full list of country-specific posts outlining how to ship anything from Amazon to any country in the world. Our 2-step method makes it as simple as humanly possible, and takes about 3 minutes total: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Asia as a whole, Europe as a whole and the United Arab Emirates.
While you're at it, international travelers should read our N26 review for the best way to get free ATM withdrawals the best rates on currency conversion - anywhere in the world.