#YSPortfolios: Photographer Gab Mejia is on top of the world

Photographer Gab Mejia received his first camera only three years ago. Much has changed since he got his point-and-shoot. Now, he travels the world to take magnificent photos worthy of a space in National Geographic, the magazine that inspired him in the first place.

Seeing Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo served as a turning point for Gab in realizing what he wanted to do in his life. “I wanted to climb mountains, to travel, to see this beautiful world, find amazing stories of people and landscapes, and to ultimately capture and share the moments lost in time,” he shares. “Photography wasn’t anymore just about my passion, it was about the world.”
We corresponded with the 21-year-old in between his expeditions to talk more about his work.

Why travel photography?

I’ve always loved traveling, but my childhood passion for climbing mountains and exploring the great outdoors is what made me dive deeper into travel photography. I’ve always loved the idea of how cameras are able to capture a moment in time you could actually never take back. Travel photography has allowed me to bring people to a place through a single image, making others live vicariously through photos of ice-capped summits to the first sunlight hitting a distant peak. It’s a way for me to express my life in this cold and confusing world, where I seek enlightenment in the most remote places of our planet in the ultimate goal to protect it.

Can you show us your top three favorite photos? What do these photos mean to you?

The Ganges River and the great Indian Himalayas

This photo was taken during our expedition as one of the first ever Filipinos documented to climb these mountains tucked in the Garwhal Himalayas of Northern India. Every mountaineer has this dream of climbing the greatest mountain range of our planet, which is the Himalayas, and this was actually the first time I ever did. It was in October 2017, where we traced the most sacred river of India, the Ganges, climbing all the way to its glacial source to reach the base camp of Meru and Shivling in Tapovan.  

First light at Fitz Roy
Nothing prepared me for this moment. Days of climbing, hoping every night that the clouds, wind, and rain would clear out every morning in this part of the world, but it was only on my third attempt that the moment finally came. The moment seeing the first rays of the sun kissing the shark-tooth summits of the golden crown of the Andes, I couldn’t help but cry as the sky slowly painted a fiery hue of red on the jagged surface of this beautiful mountain — the first light on Fitz Roy.

5025 meters

This photo was also taken during our Meru and Shivling expedition in the Indian Himalayas, this was the highest point we ever reached in that climb. At 5025 meters above sea level, this was the highest altitude I have ever reached in my whole life yet. A marker of reaching greater heights, this photo will remind me of how far I’ve climbed in my life, and how much further I need to climb in this planet.

What are you busy with now?

Besides finishing my studies as an aspiring environmental engineer in the University of the Philippines, and climbing mountains, I’ve been working on conservational efforts for the environment, specifically the mountains and wetlands, through photography, storytelling, and environmental projects. I’m currently documenting the wetlands and mountains of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile with RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands to uncover the effects of climate change and trying to understand why the most beautiful places in our planet are the most vulnerable. I’m also preparing for an upcoming project I’ll be taking part of in Europe in the near future on climate change and sustainability.

What do you want other people to feel when they look at your photos?

If there is anything at all I want others to get in seeing my photos, it would be possibility. A photograph can only tell so much. It can’t make you experience the exact moment the photographer was feeling when he took that photo, but that is the real beauty of it. I want others to see a limitless void of possibilities; possibilities of change in one, possibilities of emotions, from bliss in seeing the sunrise from the horizon, to pain from seeing a person endure the unforgiving cold of a mountaintop. I want my photos to make people feel [the vastness of the world], and the many opportunities there are for us to experience it fully. Each image is a moment in time equivalently important where I have learned a thing or two about the world from camping under the stars, climbing mountains, diving oceans, and everything in between.

To see more of Gab’s work you can follow him on Instagram. Whose portfolio do you want to see next? Tweet us @youngstarphils.


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