Barbara Weibel could be an example of what life would mean. When I read the Barbara´s “About” section within her webpage I was impressed by her determination and strength when she decided to address her life to a new stage based on do the things that she really loved to do. According to she tells in her webpage, her inner voice constantly nagged, “Who am I, why am I here, and what is my purpose in life?” She had often heard that we should do what what we love, what makes us joyful. So she asked herself, “What makes me joyful?”.
Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel probably is the answer to those questions and we´re so proud to count on her knowledge and experience in a conversation that we hope you find as enriching as it has been for us. Life means learn, grow up, take challenges, suffering, enjoying and Barbara brings together a way of life that inspire us.
Question.- Firs of all, please, tell us more about your initiative “Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel” How did you started? What are its origins?
Answer.- I started my blog prior to heading out on my first round-the-world trip in late 2006. Back then, it was intended only to keep my friends and family apprised of my whereabouts, as most of them were freaked out by my decision to walk away from a long-term corporate career to travel the world. The only thing I’d ever wanted to do in life was be a travel writer and photographer but instead I got stuck in the corporate world for 36 years. When the recession hit, I lost most everything, so I decided it was time to pursue my dreams rather than do what ‘society’ expected of me. By the time I returned from that first trip, I had about 1,200 readers and decided I might be able to make something out of it, so I continued traveling, writing, and taking photos. Little did I know that Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel would become one of the most popular travel blogs in the world, but I’m grateful every day that it did, because it allows me to do what I love, finally.
Q.- What does travel mean for you?
A.- I have always had an insatiable curiosity to know more about the cultures of the world. For me, travel is pure joy. It’s a confirmation of my belief that people everywhere are mostly good, and while we may eat different food, speak different languages, wear different clothes, and practice different religions, at our core we all have the same dreams and desires. It also keeps me focused on the present, living in the moment, rather than obsessing about the past or worrying abut the future.
Q.- When did you started to feel that your future was linked to photography? What’s first? Traveler or maybe photographer?
A.- My uncle gave me an old Leica camera when I was about 11 years old and from that day forward, you couldn’t pry it out of my hands. At the same time, someone gave my father a subscription to National Geographic Magazine. He refused to throw away any of the magazines, so they piled up in stacks on the floor of our front hall. I’d come home from school and sit cross-legged on the floor, leafing through them and looking at the photos of all the exotic places and peoples. I knew then that I wanted to be a photographer. Later, in high school, I realized I also had writing talent, so it became a second passion. I stated traveling the moment I turned 18 and was legally able to go off on my own. Travel, photography, and writing are so inextricably intertwined, for me that I can’t really say which of the three is more important to me.
Q.- According to a photographic perspective, What kind of things do you analyze when you prepare a destination?
A.- I purposely do little to no research about a destination prior to arriving, as I never want to have pre-conceived notions about the places I visit. I prefer to be surprised, which I think results in better writing. Interestingly, I’ve often wondered if that lack of preparation means I am missing out on seeing some things that I might otherwise include on my itinerary, but I can’t think of a single instance where this has happened. As for the photographic perspective, because I focus on culture there is never a lack of subject matter. I’ll talk to anyone, and everyone has a story, so a great deal of my work revolves around the local people in the destinations I visit.
Q.- Which kind of obstacles do you think that has a travel photographer in his career?
A.- I believe it is becoming ever more difficult for photographers to earn a decent living. With the advent of smart phones, everyone fancies themselves a photographer and as such, the opportunity for selling original work continues to dwindle. Digital photography has made it simple to display work online but it has also created new challenges. If I do a reverse image search for any of my online photos, I always find them displayed on dozens or even hundreds of other sites in direct violation of copyright law. I can’t possibly hunt down these offenders, especially since many of them are in foreign countries, so I just have to accept it as the price of having a successful blog and photography career. Our challenge as photographers is to find new and different ways to create revenue from our work. As an example, I’m about to launch a new website that I’ve been developing for more than a year, which will allow travelers to use my photos to send an ePostcard for just one dollar. It’s called Wish You Were Here ePostcards. While there are a few other sites that are doing something similar, most follow up with a printed postcard in the mail, or have low quality photos. My concept is to provide high quality photos of most of the top tourist destinations in the world, in an electronic format ONLY. I have no interest in killing more trees. And a portion of the profits will be donated to organizations who work to provide safe water sources to communities around the world. The site will be active by August 15th, but is available for preview right now at http://holeinthedonut.net.
Q.- What are the most exciting things of your job?
A.- Seeing new places, meeting new people, learning about other nations and cultures. I firmly believe that the better we get to know one another, the less likely we will want to kill one another.