The team at ONA loves to highlight emerging photographers and feature established photographers: it’s less about renown or experience and more about the feelings stirred by the images created. We’re constantly amazed by the incredible variety of photographers who use ONA bags: there’s no standard background, education, subject, inspiration, industry. The only constant is that they’re trying–and usually succeeeding–to tell a story in one captured moment.
James wears the Camps Bay in Smoke
In December 2013, James Seymour-Lock sold everything he owned, left the UK, and started traveling the world–carrying nothing but his ONA Camps Bay Backpack. He runs Simple As Milk, a user experience agency, from a different country each month: choosing this lifestyle to remove boundaries, seek out exciting new challenges and become a full-time explorer. In his own words: “I carry only what is necessary and live my life out of a single bag. My ONA Camps Bay is the only bag I own and my entire life is contained within it. I don’t think I could ever go back, and I’ve never been happier.”
JS: I kind of stumbled into photography. I’ve always been involved in creative practices such as design and web development, but I wanted to find a hobby that would encourage me to get out from behind the computer screen. One that would bring me new opportunities and allow me to explore new places and meet new people.
After just a few attempts I fell in love with photography. I love how a single image can contain so much meaning, and each time I shoot I seem to learn something new. I’ve met some amazing people, too, and have gained loads of confidence when talking to strangers, asking them for portraits.
JS: I shoot with the Sony A7 primarily, mostly because it’s small enough for travel and powerful enough for great results. I’ve found it’s particularly great for street photography because it’s unobtrusive. I also use various adaptors to support my growing collection of vintage lenses.
My go-to lens for the A7 is the 40-year-old Pentagon M42 135mm f2.8, also known as the “Bokeh Monster” due to its 15 aperture blades. I fell in love with the smooth, soft images that bring a little vintage look back into digital. It’s a fairly unusual focal length to have as your default lens, but I’ve learned to master it and use it for both portraits and landscapes.
I’ve also recently rekindled my love for my iPhone5 camera. In Copenhagen this month I was taking 90% of my shots with it. The quality of the camera still amazes me and some of my favorite shots have been taken with it.
JS: My favourite thing to do is to tell stories, so I want to leave behind narratives of my travel and adventures through my photography. Pushing myself to try new things makes me a more creative person: I’m investigating things that are unknown to me and then sharing the results for others to see.
The same goes for other people, I want to meet new interesting people and hear their story.
My next aim is to work with some travel/airline companies on creating photo stories for specific locations or cities. Imagine beautiful photo narratives that tell a story of each location and show the lifestyle/people within it.
JS: The hardest thing I have found is trying to slow down. With digital photography it’s so tempting to go click-crazy and actually miss what’s around you. I try to take the time to just pause and soak in the surroundings. Life is so hectic with everyone rushing through it and I’ve found it particularly hard just to slow down, relax and find that perfect photo opportunity.
I’ve noticed a lot of photographers excel at one genre of photography, whether it’s portraiture or street work. But I’ve found it hard to settle into a niche, I just enjoy shooting everything.
JS: Although my style varies, I always try to tell stories. My favorite shots capture the feeling of my journey through the lens. What is it like to be where I am right now? I want to show and inspire more people to go out and explore the world. We spend too much time in one place. You can find beauty almost anywhere in the world, you just have to get lost in that moment.
JS: As strange as it might sound, I’d say: Leave the camera at home and see the world through your eyes first, take everything in and just absorb your surroundings.
Once I stopped trying to see the world through a lens, it really opened up my photography.
JS: I’ve had my Camps Bay bag so long now that I couldn’t tell you. I just remember trying to find the most beautiful camera bag for my equipment and I sure found it. It’s been to more than 30 countries with me and several continents, it has never let me down and its beauty only grows with age!
Note: photos of James were kindly taken by Dan Rubin.