Sergio Ballivian is a Bolivian professional photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. Mr. Ballivian is the founder President of Explore Bolivia. He has been making photos for over 30 years and has been published across a great variety of media – books, magazines, catalogs, online, etc. He does assignments and commissioned work as well as self-assignments and has an extensive stock library represented by Tandem Stock and a few others. He has led photographic tours to Bolivia, Peru, Chile and New Zealand. He teaches Lightroom while on the tours and also helps people to learn, understand and get better with digital photography. He uses laptops in the field to teach his guests the subtle details of how they shot, how they should shoot and to organize, edit, process and archive their images. He is an avid photographer and his photography tour is to blend two loves- travel and photography. He enjoys capturing the photographs of grand landscapes and the images evoking the realities. He believes in the fact that people around the world have diverse points of view yet they all share one thing that is their humanity and spirit to live, wherever they may be and whatever the climate and landscape demand of them. He believes in an opportunity to experience something that is out of the ordinary.
Mr. Ballivian is on a Photography FAM Tour of Nepal which was organized by Explore Himalaya. Explore Himalaya had a short interview with him regarding his ongoing FAM Tour. Explore Himalaya discovered Mr. Ballivian to be a very cheerful person and the interview was so fun to Explore Himalaya as well as to Mr. Ballivian.
View on the trial to Ghorepani- Tadapani trek in the Annapurna region
EH: What do you feel about Nepal, do you like Nepal?
Mr. Ballivian: No, I hate it, I will never come back. (Laughs)
EH: This is not true.
Mr. Ballivian: Do you think so? Yes. You are right. In fact Nepal is a very ethnic country has a lot of similarity to my country which is Bolivia. People happen to have the lifestyles as of the people of my country. However, Nepal has lots of new things to see and for a photography tour Nepal offers many beautiful aspects. Many people have been photographing in Nepal for decades; it is not that new to Nepal, however these days things are more organized.
EH: As you said you happen to see lots of new things, will you please list few of them?
Mr. Ballivian: Especially during the trek to Annapurna region I saw totally different aspect. Like in Bolivia the trekking trials do not have the facilities of the tea houses but in the trekking trial to Annapurna region the trekking from one tea house to next made the trek even more enjoyable and easier. Trekking in Bolivia is throughout the very remote trials. I know there are remote trekking areas in Nepal too but I found the treks in Nepal are very organized. At Chitwan National Park the safari on the back of elephant was not comfortable however I enjoyed the unique ride and spotting some rhinos was a very new experience.
One-horned rhino at Chitwan National Park
EH: As a FAM Tour visitor to Nepal, do you really think that your photography tour has been worthwhile?
Mr. Ballivian: Where ever I go to the photography tour, coverage, event or some sort, I take it as my job it is not my vacation. I always look forward very seriously for the perfect photography and come back with the best results. Explore Himalaya took me to the places where I enjoyed photographing throughout. The cities and the Himalayas are perfect destinations for the unique photography tour. Anuj my tour arranger was quite smart in exactly knowing the requirements of better photography tour and my driver and a guide Lama was informative and helpful enough to support my tour. Yes, the tour was very worthwhile in the photography perspective.
EH: Do you think Nepal has the potential to increase the inbound tourism through photography tours?
Mr. Ballivian: Yes, it always had happen in Nepal and still Nepal has enough potential to increase the number of visitors with photography tours. The truth is photography can happen anywhere and anytime it is all about whether the people organizing it understand the photography or not. Next thing is unlike the other tours the photography tours have some basic requirements, for example good weather and adjustment of itinerary. And yes, since Nepal has wide variety of floras, faunas, cultures, history and the natural landscapes to satisfy any kind of photography tour, only with little bit of minor adjustments the country has the huge potential to attract the visitors interested in photography.
Magnificent Fewa Lake- Pokhara
EH: Among the places you visited during the tour which place did you find special in photography perspective?
Mr. Ballivian: Every place was different and had equally important different values. Pokhara has the plenty of all kinds of landscapes, culture, adventurous stuffs and from Pokhara treks of all kinds are wide open. Chitwan is the best location for wildlife. All you need at Chitwan for the better photography is a guide who knows the animals well and a guide who understands the photographer and knows the value of wildlife photography. The trek to the Annapurna region was full with unique landscapes and the trials always opened the options whether to go deeper into Himalayas or not. The trek also allows the cultural photography in the connected villages during the trek. Kathmandu is the best location for the street photography. Every second in the streets of Kathmandu something rare or crazy is always happening and the culture and history in Kathmandu could never be ignored by any photographer.
EH: Since you have visited different places in Nepal and you have admitted the fact that Nepal has huge potential as a photography destination; do you have any plans to promote the photography tour to Nepal?
Mr. Ballivian: No I will organize photography tours only in Bolivia. (Laughter fills the room) I definitely want to do. Now, I have the photographs and I am going to develop the itinerary for the photography tour in Nepal and come up with the plan. Once, we design the perfect plan with Explore Himalaya and all the itineraries are ready we will start promoting the photography tours in Nepal. Nepal is definitely on the list and yes! It is going happen in Nepal.
The street of Kathmandu
EH: As a professional photographer, could you please provide us some valuable suggestions to be considered during the outstanding photography tours?
Mr. Ballivian: First of all every photographers always make decision on the basis of light. The light after couple of hours of sunlight that means from 8am to 9am in the morning to two hours before the sunset i.e. 3pm to 4pm in the noon is considered as the golden light by the photographers. Local guides shall understand the importance of these times of the day and be at the location with all the logistics on time. Secondly, since this is the digital age and the photographers need to power the equipments required for the photography. Camera and their batteries, laptops and other equipments necessary for the best photography shall be frequently powered and hence the abundant arrangements for powering these backups are necessity. Finally at the end of the day good place to sleep and good hygienic food is equally important.
EH: Thank you so much for the valued suggestions, finally how would you describe Nepal in one word?
Mr. Ballivian: Intriguing.
EH: Thank you so much for the pleasant conversation. It was very nice talking to you.
Mr. Ballivian: No mate, actually it was my pleasure.
The meeting and handling was very good and on time. We were provided lots useful tips about the Kathmandu and trek. During trek our trekking staffs were very helpful. Lodges were good with warm welcome every time. Itinerary was good and flexible and adapted to our needs.