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What is it that calls us to pack up and go? We asked travel photographer Manuel Gros how he got here and what escapism means to him. Camera in hand, Manuel tells tales of perspective, minimalism and connecting with wild places.

“When I have a camera in my hand, I see my surroundings as pictures, moments. I assess what has meaning, what distracts and what is worth seeing...”

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I am drawn to the unknown, to wild places and unfamiliar cultures. Things that seem strange to me and which I don't understand. I try to fill all these white spots on the map in my mind with colour, learn something new about a small part of the world, something about the whole.

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I think what I’m searching for is perspective. Finding myself in wild places or confronted with a culture so drastically diverse, meeting people who live lives so different from my own. All that helps me to see my own world with new eyes. It shows me that there are many ways of life and many ways to find meaning. It challenges my beliefs about conventions and what is important.

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I’ve learned how freeing it is to simplify your possessions. Only having a backpack limits you good way. You have to be careful what you choose to carry with you, essentials only.

Instead of feeling like I was missing something it was the opposite; The less I carried with me the less I needed. Simplifying belongings means simplifying your life and that adds a rewarding depth. Call it minimalism, intentionalism or "I-own-less-shit-ism". Whatever you want to call it, I think it is the one thing everybody can do right now to aide their well-being.

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When you travel you open yourself up to change and situations beyond your comfort zone. By bringing back a few new puzzle pieces we can build a more detailed view of the world. The more I do it, the clearer my place in the bigger picture feels.

Looking through the lens I feel more connected to the world around me. When I have a camera in my hand, I see my surroundings as pictures, moments. I assess what has meaning, what distracts and what is worth looking at. I can filter out the noise and connect with the simple things in that moment.

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If I could relive one moment, from the top of my head I would say to hike along the Great Wall in China again. We hiked for 2 days on the wall through an amazing area close to Beijing. We started in a small village off the beaten track.

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I remember how we climbed up the stairs to the tower, the starting point. We stepped outside and saw the wall for the first time in its full size, going on for miles and miles, along hills and mountains. We stood there for a while in silence, soaking up the vastness of the journey that was about to begin...

@manuel.gros

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