National Geographic Traveler magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. To commemorate this milestone, we asked 12 of our longtime photographers to select their favorite images shot on assignment for Traveler throughout the past three decades.
Today, we hear from photographer Susan Seubert about the images above, which she shot for Traveler in 2010.
One of the most valuable tools in photography is the ability to engage with the people who live where you visit. While I was on assignment in Barbados, I met with many locals, and they would often offer up suggestions for where I might go to make an interesting picture. One of the places that I was to cover was the Garrison, a historic district also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area includes Bridgetown, the Garrison Savannah, and George Washington House. The Savannah is used frequently by locals for jogging, walking, and generally enjoying the space of the park. More notably, it houses the Turf Club, a horse racing track that’s open to the public and attracts families on the weekend who barbecue while watching the races.
One of the hotel owners I visited over the course of the assignment suggested that I get up at 3 a.m. to watch the horses being bathed in the ocean at sunrise. I jumped at the chance. I called the Turf Club to verify the day and drove to the beach on the road closest to the track in the pitch-black. Out of the darkness came the unmistakable sound of horse hooves on pavement, and sure enough, one right after another, was a parade of groomsmen and their thoroughbreds emerging from the dark street into the glow of a single street lamp. As the sun started to reveal the beautiful blue water, the gorgeous horses, and the Bajan men bathing alongside these incredible animals, I knew that I had not gotten up in the middle of the night in vain. As the sun rose and the men became accustomed to me walking into the water with them, everything fell into place. The light was spectacular, the subjects were beautiful, and it was an unusual set of images.
Photo Tip: Always ask around for advice about where to shoot. The local people know their country best and are generally excited to share the things they hold dear. People may be reluctant at times, but with some perseverance, a smile, and polite conversation, you’ll be amazed at the off-the-beaten-path experiences you can have with your camera.