Meet Khiri’s Viking with a Camera in Myanmar

March 15, 2013 by | Filed Under: Myanmar, News, Our People

Every month, we put the spotlight on one of the key players that make it happen for your privileged clients.
The Spotlight On: JP Klovstad, Khiri Travel Myanmar, Director of Operations, Yangon

JP at New Hope

Can you please introduce yourself?
I am JP Klovstad from Norway. I’m Director of Operations for Khiri Travel Myanmar. In 2001 I started as a tour leader on an overland truck in the Middle East and Africa for a year. Later I was leading for an English company in Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia and Central America. Then I became Destination Manager in China. After a few years, I was back on the road again as tour leader in Southeast Asia, until I started working for Khiri. It has been amazing working in tourism. I still love it.

I began to work as Director of Operations for Khiri Travel Myanmar on 1 November 2012. Since I started at in the beginning of the high season last year, my days have more or less been inside the office where I work with a great team. Khiri is a growing company with some amazing staff. We have lots of interesting clients coming to visit Myanmar.

How did your love for photography start?
In 2009 I bought my first Canon EOS 550D camera and I started to take pictures. Most of them I gave to my tour groups and posted on Facebook for everyone to see. For me it was a way to sell Asia and to get more people interested in travelling. The more feedback I got the more fun it was to take good pictures. While running tours in Vietnam I took my groups on special interest photo tours, where I started to learn more about my camera and how to take good pictures. Since then I think the quality of my pictures has improved a lot. Also, I invested in a Canon 5D and more lenses.

When do you take your pictures?
I carry my camera to and from work every day, sometimes in the mornings I see something I want to take pictures of. I live in a very local street, downtown Yangon, so there is a lot to see there. It’s a very colourful area. Sometimes I have time in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays to explore around and have fun with my camera. And now when high season in Myanmar is over and the low season begins (also a great time to travel by the way), I will have some more time to travel around doing research in the country. For sure I will take my camera.

What are the best light conditions for you when shooting pictures?
I prefer taking pictures during daytime and outdoors. I just bought myself a flash for my camera. We will see if I am able to use it and still like the results in the end.

What are your favourite photographic subjects?
My favourite subject is people: children, smiles, happy faces. One of the great things being in Southeast Asia is that people generally like getting their photograph taken. Still it is important to be sure you don’t offend anyone taking pictures if they do not like it. Always ask if it is ok to take a photo and share the fun by showing the photo afterwards. If possible bring back a printout later. Today it is easy and fast to print out a photo everywhere. It’s a great way to make people happy.

Here in Southeast Asia there is always something happening. The continent is colourful and there are lots of things to take pictures of. Many beautiful temples and pagodas, but again for me the people are the most interesting. I meet fascinating people walking through the markets taking a local bus or train, or just wandering around in the back streets or in the countryside.

Which regional highlight do you think is the most photogenic and why?
All of Southeast Asia is amazing for taking photos. It’s so difficult for me to say where I think is most photogenic. In Myanmar, Bagan and the temples are wow. The area around Kalaw with people working in the countryside, farming and at the markets, Inle Lake…it’s all good, good, good. There are still lots of places I haven’t been to in Myanmar.
Also Cambodia with its people, I love it. Angkor Wat and the temples around, sunrise at Ta Phrom or Preah Khan is… have to be there yourself. I also love the backstreets of Phnom Penh.
Vietnam has so much to see: from the Mekong Delta in the south to Ha Giang province in the north, which I visited in October last year for the first time.
Like Myanmar and Cambodia with its people and countryside, you’ll find the same in Laos, a dream country with a camera.

Do you have any advice for travel photography?
Always have your camera ready, interact with people and be friendly and polite. Take some time and make them smile and feel relaxed with you and your camera. For me the best shots are taken when you get up close, not from far away with a long-focus lens. And again, share your pictures with your objects if possible.

The picture of JP was taken at New Hope Community Center in Cambodia, a Non-Government Organisation run by a dedicated individual, a local Khmer called Sot Suo (Kemsour). For more information on the NGO and its donation programs click here.

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