On an upcoming cruise to New Zealand and Australia, Rancho Santa Fe resident Reed Kaestner will bring together three of his passions: travel, photography and teaching.
“Sharing what I’ve learned is one of the best parts of what I do,” said Kaestner, who has logged 30 years as a commercial photographer, creating photos of a wide range of subjects, from exotic destinations to high-end homes.
Kaestner and his wife will soon embark on their latest adventure, traveling in Australia with two of their five children, before Kaestner flies on to Auckland, New Zealand to embark on a 16-day cruise, during which he will give a series of lectures designed to help travelers improve their photography skills.
Over the years, Kaestner and his family have visited many destinations around the globe.
“My wife and I are strong believers in travel as an educational tool,” he said. “It’s a family tradition we have. My wife and I grew up as travelers and we passed it along to our kids.”
The upcoming Silversea cruise will stop at several ports in New Zealand before moving on to Australia, where it will end with visits to Melbourne and Sydney.
Along the way, Kaestner will give a series of six lectures in a shipboard theater - before an average of 100 to 150 attendees - covering such topics as researching locations, lens selection, shooting technique, proper exposure, composition, and finding interesting subjects.
Kaestner said he tells the audience in his photography lectures to get out and experience as much as they can, rather than hanging out in their hotel room or a bar, to increase their odds of snapping good photos. And he urged amateur photographers to take a few seconds to think about the lighting before taking a photo. One common mistake he sees, Kaestner said, is people taking a photo with the light behind the subjects, leaving their faces in darkness.
As a travel photographer, Kaestner has built up a catalogue of thousands of pictures with Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photography agencies. Kaestner’s pictures have been used for inflight magazine covers, billboards, brochures, books and websites.
One photo he took of a sailboat on San Francisco Bay, while walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, was used as the top image on the Netscape internet browser (a predecessor to Google), where Kaestner said it was viewed an estimated 10 billion times over a two-year period as web surfers around the globe conducted internet searches.
Other images he has taken have been used more recently on the homepage of the Microsoft internet browser Bing, where they have been viewed millions of times.
“It’s absolutely an honor because they have access to the world’s best photographers,” he said.
On one family trip to Eastern Europe, Kaestner, his wife and children were driving along a back road in the Transylvania region of Romania when they saw a billboard with an image of Kaestner’s son looking out a window when he was a toddler. The photo was being used in an ad for a German window company. They stopped the car and Kaestner snapped a picture of his son, then 16, standing in front of the billboard.
Kaestner’s photos of high-end homes have also appeared regularly in the Rancho Santa Fe Review and two local real estate magazines, San Diego Premier Properties and Lifestyles, and Dream Homes.
While Kaestner receives royalty income when his stock photos are used, he does not get a photo credit in the publication, so many who view his work don’t know he is the photographer behind the photos.
But he continues to roam the world in search of great pictures, as well as take part in local shoots for his commercial clients, because he loves the work. His tally of countries visited is now over 100, and he will add two more with the trip to Australia and New Zealand.
“I’ve been lucky to travel,” he said. “It allows me the opportunity to take these pictures around the world.”