Winner
Travel Photographer of the Year 2007

You can buy this and other Travel Photographer of the Year prints online here.

Profile
After graduating from Camberwell School of Art and Design in 1997, Cat Vinton worked as a freelance photographer in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao, working for the United Nations, UNICEF and Redd Barna, amongst others. Now based in London, she travels all over the world as a freelance photographer, shooting personal projects for exhibitions and commercially for clients.

You can see more of Cat Vinton’s work here www.catvphotography.co.uk

Cat Vinton photographer1. Where are you from?
A small village in the Northamptonshire countryside. The curiosity of the ‘bigger’ world took me to Chelsea School of Art in London at the age of 16. I have based my world from London ever since, and for the past few years from a boat on East London’s canal!

2. What first got you into photography and how old were you?
Living next door to Christopher Angeloglou of the Sunday Times Magazine (photographer and picture editor); he had a study full of photography books.

I was much happier outside as a kid (and ever since), I saw things or noticed things others didn’t. I’ve been inspired by a quote from Eve Arnold “What do you hang on the walls of your mind?” which best describes where it all began for me; I have a curiosity for human nature.

3. How do you look to approach and capture your next best shot?
I work intuitively to develop an empathic rapport with people. I think women have more ‘feelers’ which help us get to the heart of a moment. I look for surprise and develop an intimate connection with the people I wish to photograph.

4. What has being involved with the Travel Photographer of the Year done for your photography career? 
Being winner of the whole award a few years back (2007) gave me a kind of ‘credit’ that people took me seriously, they saw my work with different eyes and it opened doors through this recognition; it’s meant a lot. Winning a category in last years TPOTY Awards has also given me further recognition.

5. Tell us the story of your profiled pictures
This is Tat, my Moken friend, who I was lucky enough to live with on the Andaman Sea on his Kabang (with Sabai and 3 of their young boys). Tat could read the water, using his spear and jumping from the bow of his Kabang he would catch a fish every time. This is how the Moken live, the people of the sea, their very survival is from the ocean they live on; fish is their currency, their food and the ocean is their way of life.

I was witness to some of the very last years of nomadic existence, in-tune with nature and the rhythm of the sea.

Cat Vinton photographyThe Spearman | © Cat Vinton. You can buy this print online here.

6. Where is your favourite place you have visited, and why? 
This is too hard…I have no favourite! I have an overwhelming curiosity to explore everywhere and to see everything. Living with the Moken on the fringes of the Mergui Archipelago was incredible. Part of my heart will be there with the Moken forever. To witness the turquoise water and pristine beaches in a world that belongs to the Moken has taught me another way of existence.

I am also drawn to the Himalaya again and again…Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. I am alive in these mountains with their people and my heart is there too!

7. Tell us a fascinating fact or story from your travels
In Mongolia I wanted to photograph the wild horses of the nomads. I was living with my family in the remote south Gobi desert and I explained to the nomads that I’d like to lye in the middle of the dusty desert and for them to herd their wild horses towards me. They thought I was crazy – this new friend who had arrived from the sky! After three days, I had persuaded them if I wore white (and figured the horses would be scared of me). One of the nomad men stood over me with his lasso swinging and with the song of whistles and shouts the horses came thundering towards me and as I had suspected (actually hoped) they split around me about 50 foot away. I got my shot and a ‘nod’ from my Mongolian friend Munkherden.

8. What or who inspires you to take the pictures you do? 
I am curious about the harsh unforgiving existence of remote self-sufficient nomadic people, whose way of life is disappearing because of the encroaching modern world. Conservationists are opening their eyes to the fact that the people who have loved and nurtured their land for generations are best placed to protect it. I am fascinated by these ‘guardians’ of our planet and wish to intimately document their intangible connection to the land.

For more information on Travel Photographer of the Year or to enter, visit www.tpoty.com

For more information on Cat Vinton, visit www.catvphotography.co.uk