Get to Know Vanguard Professional Vaughan McShane

Get to Know Vanguard Professional Vaughan McShane

August 20, 2015 , Vanguard USA

Get to Know Vanguard Professional Vaughan McShane

An Interview with the Travel Photographer behind "The Travel Manuel"

Published by Vanguard USA

We are proud to introduce Vaughan McShane as a member of the Vanguard Professionals team. Vaughan and his wife Lauren have been traveling throughout Asia ever since leaving their home in South Africa in 2012. Their journeys are captured in Vaughan's vibrant photography and in the stories on their blog, The Travel Manuel.

We had the chance to ask Vaughan questions about his travel-centric life and his photographic philosophy. Read on to find out more about him...

What prompted you and your wife to pack up and lead a life of travel?

Lauren was actually the main factor behind this decision. When we started dating she had just come back from South Korea, and then about two weeks into our relationship she left for a 6 month trip to Hawaii and Europe. She was totally besotted with travel. At this stage I was living in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa.

To be honest I was actually opposed the whole long-term travelling business. But she eventually persuaded me to try it out “just for a year” and once I made the mental shift I started to get excited about new possibilities & opportunities. Looking back now I realise what a fantastic decision it was.


What keeps you excited about traveling, 3 years down the road?

To be fair we aren’t been the “nomadic” traveller’s that we are often seen to be. Over the last three years we’ve set up a home base in every country we’ve lived in and travelled out from there. Lauren still teaches part time and all of my work is location independent so our main periods of travel are her holidays and weekends. Thankfully here in Malaysia there are lots of holidays!

It’s also quick to get around in this part of the world so we are always zipping off here and there. What keeps me excited? In truth it’s probably more of an addiction scenario! Every time I arrive somewhere new, a feeling, that’s very difficult to describe, wells up within me: a combination of fascination, mystery, excitement and freedom. I guess I’ve just been bitten by the “travel bug” and the toxin is still flowing heavily through my system.


Tell us about The Travel Manuel – what do you hope to accomplish with it?

The Travel Manuel started out as a travel diary. It’s whole purpose was just to let our friends and family know what we were up to, where we were going etc. I think the sum total of readers were our immediate families! Lauren actually kicked it off on Google’s Blogspot back when she first moved to South Korea (in 2008 I think.) But over time our readers have started to grow, I got more involved (and found I enjoyed it) and then we started making real friends through the blog and our social media channels.

It was around this point that we realised that actual people were reading our posts and started to take blogging more seriously. We focused on writing more meaningful resources for fellow travelers rather than just taking pictures of what we were having for lunch.

Where do we want it to go? For now the plan is to make it less about us and more about the community. We’ve opened the site up to outside contributors and hope to post more engaging articles and more useful travel tips, more frequently. I think that overall we would just like it to be a quality resource for travelling folk.


How did you first fall in love with photography?

Photography has always been in my family - when I was younger I remember that my mother (a keen photographer) had all these large silver bound photography books lying around - I can’t remember the name, but they were a teaching series of some kind. I would pick them up sometimes - but only to look at the pictures. My parents also had heaps of photo albums, just a ridiculously large amount. I once counted over 40 of the really big ones. Although I wasn’t taking photos yet, I think this background helped me develop a love for capturing memories.

My passion for photography awakened around the same time that I started learning to play the guitar. The creative side of my brain only really started to develop a few years ago and the camera has really helped with that process.


Describe your photographic process – from conceptualizing a shot through to post-processing.

Because we travel in short bursts, most of my pictures are spontaneous so I don’t do much conceptualising. But when I do have time I first try to think about the composition and my environment (where the sun in setting / rising etc.) I consider my resources (lighting, gear, etc.) and then when I’m happy I just go for it.

I always shoot in RAW except when I discover Lauren’s been shooting with the camera and has changed the settings. I usually review all the images in Lightroom and toss out the photos that are awful. I’m a bit of a digital hoarder though so I very rarely delete an image permanently. I’m terrible like that.

I may make one or two edits in Lightroom but to be honest most of my edits are done through in Photoshop - I wish they could just combine those two programs or something. I do edit my photography a fair bit before publishing. What people can do to photographs these days is absolutely incredible, but my main goal is to keep my images as close to reality as possible and if they ever start looking a bit “too over the top” I’ll usually scrap it and start the process over again.


What essential photography gear do you take with you everywhere you go?

I have a bag that is heaped up with technical goodies. It’s my absolute favourite bag and also my camera bag. I definitely go for “too much” than for too little but i’m working on slimming it down.

Our trusty Nikon D3100 (don’t laugh.)
Backpack - UP-Rise II 48
Tripod - Alta Pro 253CT Carbon Fiber Tripod
Tripod head - BBH-200 Ball Head
Monopod - VEO AM-264TR Tri-Stand Monopod
Power Bank in case I need to charge something.
Go Pro (with lots of custom made add-ons.)
Gorilla Pod.
Wireless Headphones.
Lense cleaning kit.
MacBook Pro.
Small torch.
External HDD.
Clip on Microphone.
Spare cables.
Extra SD Cards.

Basically I just heave it all around with me “just in case.” I’m that guy.


Which photo(s) of yours, at this moment, are you most proud of?

Tough question! And I really don’t know. It’s a very difficult thing to choose. Sometimes I put a lot of effort into taking a photograph and I love it when it finally comes together and then other times I’m just in the right moment at the right time and the picture is just as good.

Currently I love a photograph I took of my pregnant wife. We’re expecting our firstborn baby boy soon and I guess it’s just very sentimental. The photo is of Lauren on the road, because we’re always “on the road” and it speaks of a very cool time in our lives, and now he is part of our journey too.


What is your favourite destination so far? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?

Again, tough question. I really fell in love Vietnam when we spent two weeks there. Perhaps it was because I was expecting something completely different (or that I didn't know what to expect) but the people were incredibly friendly, not just to us, but amongst each other too.

In Ho Chi Minh they would laugh, dance and exercise in the parks until late at night. University students sit in groups in the park after lectures and want nothing more than to chat with foreigners to practise their English. It was just one of those “wow” trips. I’ll never forget Vietnam. We cannot wait to go back one day.


What is your dream destination or adventure?

I have SO many but right now, actually for the last year or so, it has been my dream to travel slowly through the Nordic countries. Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden especially. The natural beauty out there is just immense and perhaps even a little overwhelming.


What’s your best advice to aspiring photographers?

I once read a sentence somewhere that has stuck with me, it went something along the lines of “It’s not the number of megapixels that makes a good photograph.” This was especially good for me to hear with my trusty old (and now falling apart) entry level Nikon DSLR.

It helped me realise that it’s not about the tools or the peripherals and that I could improve my craft without needing to have the best of the best. It’s really freeing. Especially when everyone out there is trying to make you believe just the opposite.

If you like something, just go out and do it. And have fun.

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