Salt flats | Sophie Knight
Interviews | | 19.02.24

An Interview with Sophie Knight

From photography student to visuals editor for Condé Nast Traveller

(with a stint as an Emirates air steward in between), Sophie Knight’s story isn’t short of creativity—much like her photography.

In October 2023, Sophie decided to take a three-and-a-half-month break from her full-time job in pursuit of Latin America, accompanied by her boyfriend and Canon 5D Mark 3.

We caught up with Sophie once she’d returned home to pick her brains about her favourite adventures and top tips for budding travel photographers.

Salt Flat Tour, Bolivia

We’ve been following your adventures and adore your photos. What sparked the idea for the trip, and why Latin America?

My boyfriend and I both took three and a half months’ sabbaticals to head to sunny SA. Working in travel, I took full charge of the itinerary. We booked one-way flights to Colombia (the cheapest destination to fly to from London at the time) and had a rough plan in mind of where we wanted to visit and a few key dates like the Day of the Dead in Mexico and New Year’s Eve in Rio. Other than that, we were open to where and when.

I actually used to be an air hostess and spent lots of time traveling to Asia and that side of the world. Asia is somewhere I tend to holiday in on my time off from work. I’ve always saved visiting SA for one big trip as there were so many places to tick off and explore I didn’t want to cram it into two short weeks.

You have had some incredible experiences, many of which we offer to our clients. Can you tell us about some of your highlights?

The Belmond Andean Explorer was a major highlight of the trip. It weaves through the Peruvian Andes, passing bright green farmland, snow-capped peaks, and plenty of llamas.

The otherworldly landscapes of the Bolivian salt flats and the Atacama Desert also blew my mind. I’d never seen such vast landscapes of all colours.

Can you name three of your most memorable meals during the trip?

Basically everything we ate in Mexico. Oh boy, I miss the food every day. There was this one breakfast taco spot that sticks in my mind, Memelas Dona Vale – a stall that has grown famous from being featured in a Netflix show. Dona works every day pressing tacos and cooking up the most delicious slow-cooked beef topped with a secret salsa.

I also fell in love with Coxinha’s in Brazil, in particular this little cafe named Fornalha in Rio which got the ratio of crispy coating to garlic chicken filling just right.

And then, a meal we enjoyed with 15 other travellers on a gaucho ranch in Mendoza, Argentina named Ranco el Gorilla. The guys barbecued us the most delicious juicy steaks and a bunch of veg in an outdoor clay oven. We covered it in Chimichuri, washed down with some local Malbec.

Which country holds the title for best ceviche to you?

Embarrassingly, I don’t like fish. But I am told by my boyfriend that the trout ceviche in Peru was amazing.

What camera do you shoot with?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark 3 with this lens.

I’m looking at investing in a smaller camera, maybe a Fuji or a Leica, as the Canon isn’t the easiest to lug around. However, it does deliver amazing results.

What has been the single best discovery of the trip in terms of an off-piste location, light on tourists?

The Peruvian Amazon was a real highlight. I’d naively only considered visiting the Amazon in Brazil, but once I found out it was easy to reach from Cusco, I was overjoyed. We took a 10-hour bus to Puerto Maldonado, (which did break down at 3 am and ended up taking 20 hours, but we don’t talk about that part) and then a 40-minute boat to the lovely Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica. From here we went on lots of excursions to see camans, parrots, monkeys and plenty more fascinating creatures you can only dream of seeing in the wild.

What tips can you offer travellers shooting in Latin America?

Seeing somewhere with fresh new eyes always delivers the best results. My favourite kind of photography is the shots of everyday life, fruit markets, colourful trinkets, the smoke of meat on a street food grill, street art and of course the locals themselves in beautiful native clothing. Shoot all these things that make a place feel so authentic, and you’ll really capture a visual story.

What is the best souvenir you’ve picked up to date?

A ceramic toro bull from Peru — it’s said to protect your family. It’s beautiful! Although carrying it around in a backpack for a month wasn’t the easiest.

If you had to choose one country for a 3-month sabbatical, which would you return to and why?

Such a hard one. Peru for adventure and Mexico for chilled out holiday bliss.

Rum, pisco or cachaça?

Cachaça for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

Lucky for us, Sophie documents her travels over on her instagram page. You can also check out her portfolio here.

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