Meet Salty Davenport, Winner of Travel in the MC Photo Comp

Salty (or Caleb, for legal purposes) Davenport won the travel category of our latest MC Photo Comp, for his incredible aerial shot of a snow-covered vehicle in Tasmania, Australia.

Salty’s a bit of a jack of all trades—shooting lifestyle and adventure foremost, but with an eye for portraiture and street photography to cap it all off. All you need to do is glance your eyes over his Instagram to see his life’s pretty much a never-ending road trip, with this great big old island of ours as his playground. We caught up with Salty to discuss his plans for the New Year and spending all his money on Dr Seuss, below.

What are your plans for the $5k?

It came down to travel or art… I saw an amazing Dr Seuss collection in a gallery in Perth so I spent it on that. One of the pieces I purchased has already sold out worldwide, the other is heading that way too. Stoked.

What do you dig most about your winning photo?

I think what I dig most about the image ‘Still Here’ is how real it is. It wasn’t a setup shot but the result of having five inches of snow dumped on our camp in Tasmania mid last year. We didn’t think we’d be getting anything but rain that night. It was my first snow camping experience with the temp getting down to -9 degrees Celsius that night (with a ‘feels like’ temp of -16 degrees). It took 30 minutes of having my cold drone battery in my undies to warm it up just to be able to get the drone off the ground. I decided to skinny dip in the river just after this image, which was the coldest thing I’ve ever experienced.

Has taking a photo ever gotten you in trouble?

I lived in New York for a year back in 2013. Most days I would catch the train uptown and deep into Harlem. I’d spend my days with my 35mm camera documenting life in the hood, I’d never felt so alive and scared at the same time. I’d chat to locals, business owners and gangs, photographing them in their day-to-day, as well as a lot of shooting from the hip to capture street life without people realising there was a camera in the area. One time a 6’8 solid thug-looking guy was jogging down the street with his girl, I saw them coming my way so I quickly prepped my settings and estimated my focus so I could snap an image when they passed by. It literally looked like I was just holding my camera side on and casually walking, but he pointed at me as he passed and said, “Don’t take that photo muthafucker.” I felt my balls race to my throat and called it quits for the day. Surprisingly, that was my only run in after months of time spent there.

What’s the one shot that got away?

The one I spilt last night.

Who’s a photographer that inspires you and why?

The guys that made, and make, the impossible appear simple, and documenting the everyday in such a beautiful, timeless way. Steve McCurry, Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier Bresson, Jimmy Chin, Trent Parke, Trent Mitchell, Cory Richards, Chris Burkard, Max Dupain.

You’ve got to escape from a burning building and you can only take one of your photos. What is it?

Probably one of my grandad.

What’s your favourite gear to shoot with and why?

Leica M6 and Voigtlander R2M with a 35mm lens. These are my babies, first and only two film cameras I’ve purchased. They go everywhere with me and if I could only use them to see out the rest of my life, I’d be a happy man.

Your dream location to shoot?

Tough one! It would come down to if I was wanting to shoot landscapes and adventure, or street life. Adventure would be climbing some crazy mountains in Norway. Landscapes would be outback Australia and street life would be back up in Harlem and the Bronx.

What was the first photo you remember being proud of?

There’s a lot of beautiful moments I’ve captured that really had me over the moon, however I think some recent ones were when I was shooting surf. It wasn’t so much about the resulting images, but knowing how far I was willing to go to pursue a career in photography, no matter what it took. From shooting wide angle at 10-12ft pipeline in Hawaii to swimming a long way out to sea in South Australia to photograph a bombie with only my friend and I out, no one else for days. That’s what makes me proud to say I’m a photographer and proud of the ambitious pursuit.

Follow Salty’s adventures across the globe on Instagram @saltydavenport or check out his website here.

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