© 2019 By Shannon O'Keefe

 

Four years ago, I was on a very clear path in life. I had just graduated from University with a B.A (Hons) in Political Science with plans to pursue a legal career. Growing up, my family rarely travelled, and by the age of 25 I had never left North America. I had spent my University years learning about the world and how it works, but realized I had never experienced any of it; everything I knew of the world, I had learned from a textbook. After graduation I decided that before returning to school, I wanted to travel. I had long been fascinated with India; The culture, the colour, the history were all such a far cry from the small town I had grown up in.

I borrowed an old camera from my father for the sake of capturing my memories, bought a rucksack and a round trip ticket, and set off.

Anyone who has travelled to India knows that it is a place that is impossible to leave and remain unchanged. My travels around India shook me to my core, and I returned home a different person. I could have never anticipated the effect this trip would have on me. It made me realize how little I knew of the world and its incredible diversity. It forced me to feel in ways I never had before. The act of discovering people, culture, history. The act of re-discovering even the simplest routines, as if you were doing them for the first time. The act of discovering yourself for the first time. I found photography to be the most incredible companion to travel; it added such wonderful richness to the process of exploring and learning. Attempting to capture the places and people that had captivated me were addictive. I returned home obsessed. Any aspirations of returning to school were quickly abandoned; I bought a used camera and lens, took the first job I could find and started to save so I could continue to explore as soon as possible.

That was four years and 28 countries ago, and I remain completely consumed and obsessed with seeing the world with my camera in hand. It is my greatest aspiration to work as a travel photographer; to move people by exposing them to this incredibly vast, beautiful, diverse world that we all call home. I believe, with all my heart, that a compassionate view of humanity can make this planet a better place and it is my life’s dream to help to encourage this understanding.