Photographer: Mike McGuire
Photographer,Profile,United States

Photographer: Mike McGuire is a tinkerer that’s curious about the world

21 March 2022

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Tell us about yourself

I’m a tinkerer that’s curious about the world. Photography is probably my favorite thing to tinker around with, but when I’m not snapping I’m writing software, running my cosmetics company with my fiance, or refinishing my mountain home.

Why do you travel and photograph your journeys?

I travel to satiate my deep thirst for seeing and experiencing new things. However, I photograph my journeys to hopefully show others in the world how diverse and amazing this round blue ball is.

To hopefully encourage others to embrace not only their own cultural heritage but also that of others.

To give those who either can’t travel, whether it’s due to a disability, a fear of flying, or maybe just lack of funds, the ability to see a more complete picture of this world’s beauty.

What is your favourite thing or item to photograph

I love finding locations where beauty created by humanity and beauty created by nature come clashing together in an epic dance of visual delight. Whether it’s a giant 17th-century bridge spanning a gorge in southern Spain or a secluded pilgrims cabin high in the Bulgarian mountains, sometimes when humanity implants architecture into nature, we get it right!

What’s your go-to travel hack?

The one thing people seem to get wrong about traveling is how much they pack. They bring their whole life with them only to encumber themselves with their lives back home. Traveling is about spontaneity and experiencing new things and a lot of luggage is only going to prevent that from happening. What happens when the person you just met over drinks in a Parisian bar tells you about how they are going to be staying in the Swiss Alps with some friends and they’d love for you to finish your trip with them in epic proportions? How long is it going to take you to pack? Will your luggage fit in their tiny European Citroen C3 car? Your luggage should be planned around your convenience and should be a tool in maximizing the potential of your trip.

I pack two carry-on backpacks that were specifically designed for traveling, not an oversized square suitcase whose only natural habitat is the airport, my backpacks go anywhere. I utilize space saving packing cubes that keep me organized. I am packaged and ready to go in minutes, I’m never looking for things and I have more than enough space for all my photography gear and enough of a wardrobe to last me a full year of travel.

Got any gear you can’t travel without?

My camera of course! If I’m going out for dinner, even if I don’t plan on photographing anything, I grab my wallet and my camera, one thing allows me to sustain my travel and the other allows me to share it with others.

Outside of that my Peak Design Capture clip, keeps my camera comfortably attached to anywhere I find convenient.

What destination are you eager to go back to?

I honestly would gladly go back to pretty much any location I’ve been to, each country has so much to offer and it’s impossible in a lifetime to be able to truly experience them all.

If I had to choose though, Prague is currently my favorite European city and I’ll never pass up a chance to visit my favorite restaurants or buy lotions from Botanicus. Speaking of Prague, my last visit I took an overnight trip to Budapest and could die for a soak in their decadent bathhouses!

This year, my parents retired to Portugal’s Algarve region, which makes me very happy as Portugal is an absolute delight, my next trip out there I hope to explore more of the north (Porto) and hopefully Madeira or the Azores islands.

How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?

It helps that I’m a fairly tall guy with broad shoulders, I’ve been luckier than many of my travel friends, but that doesn’t preclude me from being targeted by pickpockets.

One, don’t stick out. If you keep your wallet in a little purse that fits under your shirt, you’re just going to make it obvious in touristy places that you have something to hide. I keep my wallets/keys in non typical pockets. If you’re a guy most pickpockets are going to be looking in your pants pockets. I had one pickpocket accost me as I was coming out of a bustling European bar. She found nothing and I made fun of her for being such a lousy pickpocket. She even had the audacity to go in for a second look after getting caught the first time and didn’t find anything. Meanwhile all my valuables we’re in my jacket pocket and not my pants. I also found pants with a double hidden wallet pocket.

Two, be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes there is no way to not stick out. For example being a giant white person of German descent, I stick out in the Medina’s of Morocco, which are crazy labrynths with no Google maps and no cell phone service. When I noticed a man was following me I tried to loose him, but he knew the medina much better than I did. Eventually I found a mosque that had lots of people around it and I stopped and confronted the man there. And he left me alone after that. Places like the medina it’s too easy to take a wrong turn and find yourself in a small alley way that dead ends with no escape. Keeping to crowded areas can be helpful.

What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local?

To me the #1 way to go local is to go alone. Traveling with other people means you are less focused on creating your own unique experience.

My first trip abroad as an adult I got these cheap $175 round trip tickets to Paris. On the plane I spilled water all over my phone and it wasn’t working right and to make matters worse a terrorist checkpoint was forcing everyone to get off the train on the far north end of the city. I had to find my Airbnb with no phone or maps or anything, in a city I had never been to. Jet lagged, I probably walked every street in that city, and immediately passed out when I arrived. When I came to, around 10pm, I decided to walk around the neighborhood I was in and find a cafe for a drink. The only one I found that was open, was across the street from Centre Pompidou and there wasn’t a soul in sight. As I finished my first beer a group of men sat next to me and began drinking, apparently they were waiters and bartenders from the area and had just gotten off shift. I asked them to lend me a lighter which turned into a full night of bar hopping to some of the most amazing bars I’ve ever been to with a group of Parisians I’d never met before. And that first night kicked off my love of traveling and getting to know people around the world.

Had I not been alone I likely would never have had that experience or the hundred like it that I cherish with my whole heart.

What’s your favourite word in another language?

This one is easy, ‘Yala’ in Arabic beans ‘let’s go’. Which is so fitting for travel. There’s this song I picked up while in Morocco by Oumou Sangare titled ‘Yala’. Great song for getting excited about going somewhere.

When and where are you next travelling?

I just got back from a trip to Spain, so I’m taking care of some things around the house before we head off to the great lakes area for the holidays. As for my next international trip? I’m not sure, I have a little cousin who still doesn’t have their passport. I’m thinking of forcing a trip to Mexico City in the next couple of months! It’s my go to location to convince untraveled Americans that they want to travel more. It’s inexpensive to get their and it’s steeped in food and culture!

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