Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where did you grow up and what do you do?
My name is Spencer Findlay and I am an adventure photographer and videographer from Seattle, Washington, USA. I’m currently a student at California Baptist University in Los Angeles, California. I grew up just outside Seattle and it was when I was in high school that I got my first camera and started taking pictures. Most of my work now is freelance creative projects for companies, schools, real estate agents, and professionals. But my passion is traveling the Pacific Northwest (upper left part of the USA), and recently Indonesia, shooting breathtaking landscapes.
What motivated you to travel and what was the first overseas trip you took?
I’m inspired by nature itself. I go places and see these beautiful things and I want to capture that image in a photograph. I’m also inspired by everything I see on social media. I discover new places in other people’s photos and it makes me want to get out and travel.
As far as overseas trips, I traveled to Mexico and the Dominican Republic on vacations and service trips but Indonesia was really my first big photography trip.
Have you always been a globetrotter? Can you tell us where have you gone and how do you decide which place to go?
Honestly, I haven’t. I’ve spend most of my time shooting in Seattle and the mountain ranges nearby. This fall I’ll be studying in Paris and I am excited to travel throughout Europe. I’m hoping to get back to Indonesia next year.
Are you more of a spontaneous person or a well-planned person? Are you always traveling alone or with friends?
Spontaneous. I’m a very go with the flow kinda guy. I love traveling with my friends – we have a blast together and many of us like photography so we always build in photography to our trips.
When did you come to Indonesia and why? Where did you go?
I spent about 3 weeks in Indonesia in May/June 2016 because my sister was living in Kalimantan and teaching English so I wanted to come visit her and travel around Indonesia with her. It was a perfect opportunity. We were in Palangka Raya, Nusa Lembongan, Labuan Bajo/Komodo, Ubud, Jogja, and Jakarta.
How do you travel around?
I was lucky to get to travel with my sister who is conversationally fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and knows her way around Indonesia. She had been to many of the places we went before so knew how to get places and what the best photography places would be.
Do you think it’s necessary to adapt to local style and customs? What would you suggest if you think it does?
I guess it’s not necessary, but I think it makes traveling much more fun and interesting! It’s important to be respectful of local cultures and customs – you are in someone else’s space and should respect that! I loved getting the chance to see all different kinds of Indonesia culture – from Dayak dances and costumes in Palangka Raya to Hindu gatherings in Bali. I think it makes you a better person to see more of the world.
When you are traveling abroad, do you think you are more exposed to imminent threat from local crime? Have you had any bad experience during your travel in Indonesia or other countries?
I suppose being a foreigner I’m more exposed to the threat of petty crime but I had no troubles while I was in Indonesia. I do try to be extra careful wherever I am when I’ve got all my camera gear with me.
After coming to Indonesia, do you have any plan to come back here? Any reason why you want to come back? What do you miss/you’ll miss the most about Indonesia?
I would love to come back and am hoping to next May or June! My sister will be living and teaching for another year in Sulawesi this time, so I’d love to come back and visit and travel a different part of Indonesia.
I miss the incredibly welcoming culture and the friendly people we found everywhere we traveled. But I especially miss the overwhelming beauty – of having incredible sunsets every single night, and crystal clear water – that’s something you can only find in Indonesia. Oh, and I miss the heat – Seattle is cold!
How do you determine or manage your budget for your trip?
I was pretty lucky to be able to trade my photo and video services for accommodation – so we got to stay in some incredible villas throughout our trip for free. Although it was a lot of work on my end too – shooting the footage and then making the videos… Because we saved money on accommodation we had extra to spend on other things – we bought cheap plane tickets in advance and planned cheaply where we could!
How much do you usually bring with you on travels (one backpack/one check-in luggage)? Are there any must-bring items for you?
Yep! I had one backpack with all my photography/video gear and then my check-in bag with clothes and such. Three must-bring items? Camera, drone, sunglasses 😀
What was your most memorable moment during your visit in Indonesia?
Scuba diving with manta rays in Flores. Or seeing the Komodo dragons… that was pretty cool too!
What is the most challenging part of traveling overseas?
Fitting in all you want to do into the short time you have to travel!
Some people may be willing to travel but some are afraid to take the leap or worried about safety issues. What would you say to them?
You only live once. If you don’t go, you may regret it. If you do, you’ll never regret it.
Any constructive criticism for our tourism?
Websites make all the difference. I know sometimes it’s hard for small companies/individual tour guides to get internet access and make a website but when we (as foreigners) are planning a trip from abroad, it’s so much easier and more comfortable for us if you have some kind of a website so that we can find guides and plan the trip from abroad.
People say traveling change one’s life. What have you learned from about yourself and what do you think you will learn?
There’s more to the world than the city I live in. I’m blessed to have had the chance to see some of Indonesia and know that I will not soon forget the people, places, and animals (komodo dragons!) that I met in Indonesia.
Any parting words for our reader?
Thanks for reading and hope to connect with you over social media or in person, the next time I’m in Indonesia!