Photographers,Profiles,United Kingdom,Women

Photographers: Dr Laura Di Stefano document her journeys and share her passion for history

4 March 2022

Visit Laura Di Stefano on Instagram, Twitter, and her Website

About you

My name is Laura. I’m Italian but I live in the UK since 2014. I first moved to the UK to study for my PhD in History (which I was awarded in 2019). I have had a passion for traveling and photography since I can remember. I always tried to travel as much as I could and also during my PhD I specialised in the study of travel itineraries towards the Middle East written during the Middle Ages (ok the field is much more complicated than this but this is what I usually say to people when asking me about it 😅). As I traveled a lot to complete my studies and my research I decided to document my journeys and share my passion for history. Here I founded The Historian Traveller. I recently became mum of two twins boys (they are now 18-months-old) and because of the pregnancy and some related health problems, I had to pause both my academic career and blogging life (the pandemic played also its role of course). However, now I’m getting better and as the babies are growing up well I’m starting writing/traveling and photographing the world again!

Why do you travel and photograph your journeys?

Despite being a historian, I never loved being behind a desk. I’m quite unusual in this. Indeed, I always preferred being on the ground and touching history with my hands. I’m in constant need of freedom and travel makes me feel free. Photography, on the other side, allows me to freeze that freedom in a concrete way by creating memories I can never forget. It doesn’t matter whether I am or not in the pictures. Every shot has its own moment and story and I am the only narrator of it.

What is your favourite thing or item to photograph?

I love capturing historical architecture when visiting a new place. When I see a palace, a castle or simply the ruins of an ancient abbey I feel the need of telling their, often forgotten, story to the world. I like to photograph places immerse in their natural light and current environment. Particularly, I like to capture the changing of the seasons and show how historical heritage stands the passage of time. Moreover, cityscapes are also among my favourite subjects. Indeed, I love to capture the mixing of new and old architecture. I like to create contrasts but also unique patterns and tones. I prefer bright and bold tones that easily enhance the natural beauty of urban architecture.

What’s your go-to travel hack?

Well, I had a couple of accidents along the road (like smashing my old camera in India) or when my new camera was blown together with its tripod by a strong gust of wind in Iceland (but miraculously didn’t break). Or, one of the latest accidents, when I smashed my drone against a wall after it was chased by a group of seagulls (not sure how it still works perfectly 😅). I always try to pay attention but accidents do happen, unfortunately. When I travel to crowded places I always keep the gear on my body (usually in a professional camera backpack). I have also a dry bag for water excursions and various rain covers. I’m honestly terrified of breaking my expensive gears but at the same time, I don’t want to lose photographic opportunities to be excessively meticulous. So, I try to find a balance. However, one of the things I learnt from experience is don’t let touch people who don’t know what they are doing your professional stuff.

Got any gear you can’t travel without?

I always carry my Canon camera with me on a trip. I can live without my drone but the camera is my best friend.

What destination are you eager to go back to?

Probably Egypt. I spent almost one month there but still have the feeling it’s not enough! Moreover, Cairo is one of my favourite cities in the world.

How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?

Well. I always do research on what places I need to avoid in certain destinations and I generally trust my instinct. If something looks shady, it probably is. I try to avoid trouble and get a trusty local contact just in case something goes wrong. However, even if I travelled alone in the past. Now, I travel most of the time with my husband (and also the little ones since last year!).

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

Stay with locals! Embrace the culture and don’t be ashamed to ask questions about customs, food or whatever topic you want to know about it. Most of the time people are happy to tell you more about their culture. Sometimes, you have to go a bit out of your comfort zone but this is rewarding. The most important thing is always being respectful of other people cultures and beliefs while learning something new.

What’s your favourite word in another language?

I’m Italian and I love when people say “Buon Viaggio” maybe in English this can be translated as “have a safe trip “ but the meaning is not quite the same. Buon Viaggio is more a good wish for your trip and gives you the promise of an exciting new adventure. Have a safe trip is also a kind of good wish but to my ears it sound like “stay safe something can go wrong”. I prefer the Italian version.

When and where are you next travelling?

I have quite a few trips planned this year. I’m exploring the French Riviera in April and this summer I’m heading back to Sicily to visit my family. Then I will fly to Malta (it’s my second time here) and Jordan (I’m very excited about this last one!).

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