Name: James Alexander Adams
Home Base: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Last Trip: Los Angeles
Next Trip: Florida Keys (December), Iceland (March/April)
Websites: jamesalexanderadams.squarespace.com, www.buildfilms.ca, www.flightpathmediahouse.com
1. What are three things you take on every trip?
The first thing that I am always sure to have is my camera. For the past few years that would have been a Canon 5D and 7D, although I just bought a Sony FS700 so that will the first thing I pack from here on out. The second I always bring is my laptop. I believe that traveling is about disconnecting from the habits of home life, and so I try not to check email or Facebook, however the laptop is essential because I tend to capture a lot of photos and videos while traveling and like to have everything captured, saved, and archived. The third thing is to always have a book to read. I tend not to read novels, choosing rather to read Lonely Planet or National Geographic. I find those types of books inspiring while traveling and they are great to pull out of my backpack while taking time-lapse shots, sitting on a bus, or relaxing at a hostel.
2. What is your best remedy for jet lag?
I have never really had a problem with jet lag. I have an amazing ability to fall asleep on flights. There have been flights where I have fallen asleep before takeoff and woken up as the plane pulls up the gate. I can honestly say that I have often arrived after 24 hours of travel and felt fresh, ready for the time zone and able to go.
3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?
When I get to a new place the first thing I do is try to meet some local people, whether it be at the front desk of a hotel, a cab driver, or basically anyone. I do this because no matter how much planning and research I do beforehand I always trust a local to direct me to amazing experiences.
4. What place has the best food? The worst food?
I rate the best food that I have had not purely on the cuisine itself but the experience of the meal and the journey to get there. One of the best meals I ever had was a bowl of pasta and cup of coffee after coming down from the top of Torres del Paine. I had pushed myself through a 25km day of hiking in order to make it to the top, while at the top the winds picked up and a snowstorm blew in. On the way down the park rangers had closed off access up the hill. Halfway down the mountain there is a Refugios that has a few beds and cooks some warm food. That meal after a long day tasted so amazing and was such a surreal moment, sitting there looking at the sun setting on the peaks of Torres del Paine.
The worst food I have ever had was definitely in Cuba, their food is often very bland and the meat is often very lean and not flavorful. Now that is not to say that they can’t cook. Cuba is just a very poor country that lacks a lot of resources.
5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life?
The thing that changed my outlook on life was a job that I had for a wealthy fashion designer. The job was basically following him around the world filming appearances and things he did with his personal life. The job was extremely demanding, however I got to travel to some amazing places. The only problem was that we always visited the “touristy” places and stayed in North American hotels, with private cars, basically the works. What I learned was that was not the way I wanted to explore the world. I want to meet real local people and discover the way they lived their life. I want to arrive at a destination having had to put in some work, maybe get a little lost, and have to work through some language barriers.
6. What is your favorite travel quote?
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha
7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?
M83, The Naked and Famous, Röyksopp, and Liquid Stranger.
8. What is your craziest true travel story?
On the way to Fiji I was delayed 5 days because of a typhoon over the country. I managed to talk my way onto a flight that was heading back just to bring flight crews in to get more people out. I met one of the pilots in the hotel and managed to be one of 20 people on an entire 747 from LAX to Nadi.
Another time while walking down a side street in London during the Olympics I came across Bill Gates just walking down the street with his wife–really weird and random, but said hi, shook his hand, talked some Olympics, took some photos, and went on my way.
9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?
Travel videos are the best way to remember the experience of a trip. Photos are always good, but making a video of it allows you to experience the ups and downs of a trip all over again.
10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos?
The goals and philosophy of my videos are always changing and evolving. My goal for a long while was to only bridge the gap between my photos and videos. I was only trying to make videos look as pretty as my pictures. In the past little while my goal has been to focus more on telling a story and sharing an experience. Pretty videos and photos alone don’t really share what traveling somewhere really is about. I really want to start sharing the experiences that I have, the people, the highs and the lows, etc.
11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?
Making a travel video is fun. There are a lot of things to learn, but the number one thing is to always have your camera handy, shoot everything no matter how mundane, and always be trying to make your next video better than the last.
12. What is your best travel tip?
Never plan out every last minute of your trip, leave room for some adventure, some spontaneity, and let the wind blow you in some unexpected directions.