From visiting the Hagia Sophia to riding a hot air balloon to watch the sun rise, Clarissa is quite the traveler – and her photos give us a glimpse of her amazing adventures. Check out her story below.
Say hello to Clarissa:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I can usually be found in and around New York City. I’ve been to Japan, Australia, France, Argentina, and Hawaii to name a few places.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
To take a picture of the aurora borealis, a couple of animals in the wild (e.g., sharks, tigers, and whale sharks), and a tornado.
What sparked your passion for travel?
I read about the Hagia Sophia and thought it would be nice to see someday. Fast forward to a couple of years later, I was able to stand under its dome and admire the mosaics illuminated by the sunlight streaming through the windows. That moment inspired my love of travel. It dawned on me that looking at a beautiful picture doesn’t compare to actually being able to see the place in person. In addition to that, while I do enjoy reading, investing in experiences is more fun (e.g., saw fish beneath the city as I walked through Basilica Cistern, sampled the local cuisine, slept in a cave hotel, went on a hot air balloon ride to watch the sun rise over Cappadocia, walked on Curetes Street towards the Library of Celsus, took a dip in the travertine terraces and hot springs of Pamukkale, tried my hand at pottery and struggled to not laugh at myself in the ridiculous-looking pants that I had to wear to keep my clothes clean while working the potter’s wheel).
Of the photos you’ve taken – which three are your favorite?
Tough to narrow down, but below are the ones that came to mind, in no particular order.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Familiarize yourself with the rules of photography and the best photographers, but view those more as guidelines and inspiration instead of constraints and people to copy.
What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?
While on vacation, I was playing around with a new camera, trying to take a shot of a bird flying in my direction. The bird? It had other plans. It swooped down behind me and stole a chocolate chip cookie that I just bought. Lessons learned: some animals are not keen on modeling and don’t put off for later what you can eat right now.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
Hard to pick one, but in general, photos by Chris Burkard. I’ve always thought his shots were awesome, but it wasn’t until I had the chance to see the RAW files ( – he shared some of his shots straight from the camera for those who would like to take a crack at post-processing) that I realized how great those photos are. That experience motivated me to learn more, to plan my shots, and to keep on trying.
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
Don’t be afraid to use a high ISO. It is useful not only in night photography, but can also help freeze motion with a balanced exposure.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
1. Learn the basics to control exposure (i.e., aperture, shutter speed, and ISO).
2. Mind your composition. It’s easier to do some color correction in post-processing than to try to manipulate angles and subject placement after you’ve taken a shot.
3. Don’t get too hung up on gear. While it doesn’t hurt to have the best gear that is suitable for the type of photography that you aspire to do, remember that a camera is merely a tool. Without the knowledge and artistic vision of the person wielding it, the camera alone is not going to produce a great picture.
What kind of gear do you have?
My typical setup is a Sony a7 II with a 16-35mm ZEISS Vario-Tessar T* FE f/4 ZA OSS lens. The mirrorless camera is smaller and not as heavy compared to DSLRs with similar capabilities; making it ideal to bring along on travels and shoot a wide range of genres (including astrophotography). For better stability, I use a MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod. The carbon fiber model is lighter than the aluminum one, folds down to a size easy to carry on a hike, and sturdy enough to support a camera even with a telephoto lens. When I don’t have my standard kit, the iPhone 7 camera works in a pinch.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Expose with post-processing in mind.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Sleep on it; sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.
Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?
I had an opportunity to photograph a bunch of rescued pet and farm animals for charity. Below are the outtakes from the photo shoot. If you are willing and able to, please help animals in shelters find forever homes.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Skydive in Dubai.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Clarissa, here’s some contact information:
Clarissa, thank you for sharing your story with us – it was a pleasure.
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iPhone here!