[caption id="attachment_4400" align="alignright" width="300"]Travel phootgraphy by Andy Wasley: Sunrise above Clayton Holt in the South Downs National Park The sun rises above Clayton Holt.[/caption] When planning a travel photography job, preparation is important - especially for something as challenging as the Pennine Way, which I'll be tackling in April. I've spent more than enough time in mountains and on long-distance trails like the Annapurna Circuit and West Highland Way to know that nothing can be left to chance. That's especially the case where kit is concerned, and no less so for cameras than for boots, bivvy shelters and backpacks. I've not had much of a chance to get hands-on with my camera - an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II - so far this year, so I took the opportunity of a frosty Saturday morning to take it on a traipse through the South Downs National Park. My aim was as much to escape London as it was to re-engage my creativity.

[caption id="attachment_4282" align="alignright" width="300"]Travel photography by Andy Wasley: Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.[/caption] These last few weeks have been all about pitching my portfolio to potential clients. It's grinding hard work, especially since it leaves me with little free time to make new portraits or travel photography. This leaves me with a conundrum: as a professional photographer I need to make photographs in order to keep my portfolio up to date. What to do when I'm buckled down at my desk? The answer arrived in the form of Olympus's month-long street photography theme on social media (via @olympusuk and MyOlympus - I shoot exclusively with Olympus kit). It got me thinking more critically about some of my older work, and about what street photography means to me. I think street photography is a vibrant art form. Some of my favourite photographers made or make exceptional street photography, much of which hooked in to their commercial or documentary work. There's a lot to be said for those rare pictures that expertly capture a revealing moment between people. It's what hooked me in to street photography while I was living in the Middle East: an excuse to explore the world with a little more attention, and to record something of life's daily dramas along the way.

[caption id="attachment_4334" align="alignright" width="300"]Travel photography by Andy Wasley: Vineyards and landscape seen from Bodegas Vivanco in Briones, Spain. Vineyards and landscape seen from Bodegas Vivanco in Briones, Spain.[/caption] Travel photography and writing have taken me to some wonderful places - from the mountains of Nepal to the chalky clifftops of the South Downs and stormy Scottish coastlines, I have been lucky to see places that live in my heart and mind - and to make landscape photography along the way. Few have as strong a hold over me as Rioja, a region of Spain whose wines have long been among my favourites. Back in September 2014 my then fiancé and I visited, partly so that I could make travel photographs for Pride Life magazine - partly so that we could simply soak up some sunshine away from a dreary British autumn. We started our trip in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country (of which Rioja is the principal winemaking region). Basques are a famously independent people, and around Bilbao it’s hard to escape outward signs of the region’s autonomy. As cultural as it is political, autonomy is reflected in the widespread use of the Basque language and the Union Jack-like orange, white and green ikurrina flag. When we visited, saltires uttered alongside the ikurrinas, a reminder of our own country’s debate over independence and identity as Scotland went to the polls for an independence referendum.

[caption id="attachment_4239" align="alignright" width="300"]Travel photography by Andy Wasley: Boudhanath Stupa, a sacred Buddhist Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu.[/caption] In 2013 I proposed to my now husband following an arduous trek along the Annapurna Circuit high in the Nepalese Himalayas. After two weeks surrounded by pristine, paper-white peaks soaring into powder-blue skies, making travel photography of quiet villages and immense vistas, even something as wonderful as our engagement now seems almost secondary to the adventure that went before it. The Annapurna Circuit winds through some 150 miles of Nepal’s most stunning mountain scenery and includes one of the highest points to which it’s possible to trek without climbing gear. We travelled in November, after the main tourist season and before snow and ice make the higher parts of the trek more technically challenging, using the superb Lonely Planet Nepal guide.