Ride Around the World With Award-Winning Photographer

Exploration and photography go hand in hand. As visual storytellers, we document our journeys and are always curious.

This is what we love about photography. It’s an endless journey.

Jody McDonald is a long-time PhotoShelter member and award-winning photographer. She has traveled to all corners of the globe.

She is passionate about documenting issues which blend insightful storytelling with big expeditions and social change inspiration to promote the preservation of wild spaces.

She has spoken on the TEDx stage . She has been involved in campaigns for companies like Disney, HP, Ford, and Leica. Her images can be found in international publications like National Geographic Red Bull Outside BBC, Patagonia, and others.

Jody was kind enough to share with us her most recent adventure in India. She also shared her story of how she became a photographer and what her next international workshop will be (hint, it’s an adventure on a motorcycle that’s once in a lifetime).

This week, we’re also featuring Jody’s work on Instagram. Head over there to see more of her travel photography and follow her new account, @everydaymotorcyclediaries.

This interview has been edited to improve clarity and length. Jody MacDonald is the photographer of this cover image.

Photo by Jody MacDonald

How did you start out as a photographer?

JM : I am Canadian, but I lived in Saudi Arabia from the time I was 2 years old until I turned 16. My early exposure to exotic locations during my childhood inspired me to love adventure and exploration. Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by art and outdoor activities. As an undergraduate, I majored in Outdoor Recreation. However, as a substitute for my Outdoor Recreation course, I took a Photography class and fell in love. I began taking my camera on adventures, and it was a perfect marriage between my passions for art, adventure and traveling. I haven’t stopped ever since.

Tell us about the workshops you offer. What are they about? What was your initial approach? What will you offer in the coming months and years?

JM I began running workshops several years ago. I’ve run workshops so far in Namibia, Tanzania, and September this year in the Himalayas. The Himalayan workshop will have a special twist because it is being done on a motorcycle.

Last summer, I went on a solo motorcycle trip through the High Himalayan Region of Ladakh in India, along the Tibetan Plateau. It was such an amazing experience that I wanted to share it with other adventurous people who want to improve their photography skills.

Photo by Jody McDonald

I aim to help participants improve their ability to capture beautiful photographs. I cover image-taking theory, planning, and post-processing. I use a relaxed, hands-on teaching style to allow for lots of shooting and practice time. Each participant will receive feedback. I cover a variety of photography modules, including image editing, composition, and onsite critiques.

My ultimate goal is for my clients to return home with great memories, new skills, and amazing photographs.

My first workshop was a partnership with a local tour operator in Namibia who could help me organize all logistics, including travel, accommodation and food. It was a great success, and I’ve continued doing it.

In the future, I will take the lessons I have learned and refine them to provide the most value to clients.

JM Over the years, I’ve only ridden motorcycles very casually. But for some reason, I always dreamed of taking a solo trip on a motorcycle along the Tibetan plateau. Last July, I decided to just do it. I had no idea how to buy a motorcycle or pack it, ride it with gear, etc. I just jumped in and have been doing it since.

I’m also a big believer in creative constraints and wanted to challenge myself photographically on this trip, so I decided to create a new Instagram account called @everydaymotorcyclediaries. I will be taking one picture a day on my journey using only one camera and lens. I’m curious to see what my photography looks like after that period.

Traveling by motorcycle while taking pictures has a positive impact on my photography because it gives me the freedom to pursue my photographic curiosity. When I pass something that I find interesting, I stop to spend some time. This opens up many new opportunities, and I’ve never had this level of access before. The locals are so intrigued by a woman motorcyclist riding alone that they want to invite me to their villages and homes.

JMI’m taking a solo motorcycle trip, and I use 2 Leica cameras to take still photos, as well as 3 GoPro 10s for video. The Leica M10 has a Summicron-M28mm f2 lens, and the Leica X-U is a fixed 23mm f/1.7.

The other tools I use are my ZbyHp Studio Laptop with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro for editing, as well as 4 x Sandisk 4TB external hard drives, a Gitzo tripod, and 2 x Dji drones.

It’s difficult to choose just one piece that I cannot live without, so I’m going to go with my Leica M10 or my iPhone since I use them for all of my social media.


What are your best tips for photographers who want to become better? What are some of the things you have learned that other photographers could benefit from?

JM A few top tips I’ve learned along the road would be:

  • Gear is not everything. I shoot with just one camera and lens. The freedom allows me to take more photos and be more creative, especially during long shooting days.
  • Portraits can be difficult to take. To take a good portrait, you need to get over any shyness. At first, it can be daunting but keep pushing yourself… It becomes easier.
  • Give yourself some creative constraints. It makes you a much better photographer.
  • Take pictures of things you find meaningful and important. You should work in areas that you are passionate about and bring attention to them using your own voice and style. Don’t give up. No one can replicate your success. Persistence is the key.
  • You should shoot as many images as possible and then continue to improve them by constantly reviewing your work. Be ok with the process. Great images can make you stand out, but they require constant criticism and effort.

What are your favorite features of PhotoShelter? What will it do for your creative workflow or photo business?

JM: Yes, absolutely. My favorite feature of PhotoShelter is the ability to create an online archive for high-resolution files, which I can share with clients when I am on the go.

It’s very useful to be able to store high-resolution files online when traveling.

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