His dreamy shots of the world’s most desirable destinations have earned him a legion of global fans, not to mention inspired many a case of wanderlust. In fact, Gray Malin’s prints are so popular, he’s blossomed into an all-encompassing lifestyle brand. Upon the release of his sublime new book, ESCAPE, we caught up with the Texas-born super-snapper to discover his travel secrets and more.
Your new book, ESCAPE, takes the reader to incredible destinations around the world. How did you go about curating which places to feature?
“The chapters are broken down according to their primary environment: Surf, Snow, Sand, Pools, Isles and Parks. By implementing this approach to the curation of images, it helped emphasise how each type of destination evokes an indulging feeling of escape. For example, in SURF, I take the viewer surfing in Montauk, whereas in Parks, it’s a stroll through their favourite urban park. By organizing it this way, I was able to delve deeper into my own experiences in each location, as well as draw the common thread of escapism between the 22 destinations across 11 countries featured within ESCAPE.”
Is there an image (or series of images) you’re most proud of in the book and why?
“I certainly have ones that I gravitate towards more than others, but it’s honestly impossible to choose my favourites as they are all very special to me. I do love the artwork on the cover of the book, ‘Girl in Pink, Bora Bora’ which plays nicely with the artwork on the back cover: ‘Man in Red Shorts, Bora Bora’.”
Are you able to single out the most inspirational destination you’ve ever visited? If so, where is it and why?
“There are too many to choose just one, so instead I’ll narrow it down according to the type of escape. When it comes to surfing, I was blown away by Byron Bay, Australia. The bohemian culture combined with the palpable love of the ocean is intoxicating. A chillier favourite would have to be my shots from Aspen, as it was my first aerial mountain shoot. For an urban escape, the parks of Barcelona are truly spectacular, and there isn’t much that beats a sunrise over the salt flats of Bolivia. Lastly, for the ultimate escape of getting to an island, I can’t help but choose Bora Bora, which graces the cover of the book.”
When choosing your destinations, do you know the exact shot you want to eventually capture, or do some of your images end up being spontaneous?
“All of my aerial photography is shot from a door-less helicopter at varying levels of height and length of flight, as it depends on the restrictions as well as the weather conditions of each destination. It’s not pre-arranged. I simply look for natural settings and what catches my eye. From above, the people with their umbrellas and towels create patterns and shapes which are unique in that they are mere moments in time that can never be captured again.”
Aside from being utterly beautiful, your shots often have a sense of fun and serenity to them. What mood do you hope to evoke from your viewers?
“I hope to evoke joy in viewers. As my brand motto goes, I aspire to make every day a getaway.”
Your image series of llamas wearing balloons on the Bolivian salt-flats has become one of your most iconic. Where did the idea come from and how did you manage to execute it logistically?!
“That image was shot in the salt flats of Bolivia, where I have been twice to shoot work for my series titled, Far, Far Away. The original idea came to me on the spot when I had just finished shooting the balloons in a different context. Instead of deflating them we strung fishing line and draped them over the llamas. It was so bizarre how calm the llamas became… they stood up confidently and held the position so long I even took a selfie on my phone!”
Is there one place that has particularly inspired you?
“I wish I could go to Cape Town, South Africa more often. I also can’t help but dream of Italy all year round.”
Where is at the top of your list to visit next?
“There’s always an ongoing list but I’m definitely interested in exploring Morocco, Iceland, and Palm Beach, Florida in the new year.”
If Gray Malin’s stunning images have inspired you to escape, click here to discover a thrilling Trafalgar trip.