A Life of Adventure — An Interview with Andrew Szeto
Andrew Szeto is a skateboard flipping, motorcycle riding, and backpacking adventurer with a knack for woodworking. We’ve felt lifestyle envy once or twice from all the interviews we’ve done here on the Magazine but this one has to be our favorite as of late. We can only think of so many activities to add to Szeto’s list so we’ll leave it to you guys to come up with more. Oh, and did we mention that he shoots amazing photographs on top of mountains and aboard a helicopter? Not yet? Well, then there you go.
Hello, Andrew! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi Marc and team! I’m Szeto! I live in Ottawa, Canada, where I am the Multimedia Officer for the Canadian Coast Guard and work on woodworking and random projects outside of that.
Tell us about your journey with photography so far. What are you currently working on?
After a short-lived but super fun amateur skateboarding career, I started shooting for the skateboard magazines and getting a bunch of commercial gigs while I graduated grad school in Environmental Engineering. I actually worked as an Engineer at Coast Guard, but senior management stumbled upon my Instagram and I am fortunate enough to be buzzing around in helicopters and shooting off our ships now.
We just love your Pentax in Iceland video. How was the experience?
It was fantastic! I was actually in Iceland for the Arctic Coast Guard Forum and had the chance to take a week off afterwards. I loved the Maison Carnot video from Paris a few years back and wanted to recreate it in a different spot and bring something different to Iceland!
You made quite a great working rig with such simple materials. Is there anything you would have changed on the rig design?
Honestly, not really. It was bulky, but it was moreless made for a 1-time use, and it worked, so as the saying goes, why change a good thing.
We bet that rig (complete with two cameras) was a challenge to shoot with. What problems did you encounter aside from the wind blowing down your setup from time to time?
The other challenge was the crop. I actually cropped the image to about 3/4 because the straight down view would actually capture the rig itself. Other than that, it surprisingly worked without much additional fuss.
What was the most memorable things during your trip to Iceland?
The most memorable thing is the hot springs! They’re everywhere and we would find them with hotpoticeland.com. It was epic stumbling upon some of these. You’ll notice quite a bit of footage from inside various hot springs haha.
How did you prepare for that? What were your travel essentials during that trip?
I packed a bunch of camping gear. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough for the two of us, as temperatures dipped to freezing. I cheaped out and rented a Toyota Yaris. In retrospect, I should have rented a camper van, which would have offered great shelter for us too.
Any favorite spot you would recommend to people who are planning to go to Iceland?
We went to the west fjords and it was absolutely magical. Treacherous roads, but magical!
Do you have any particular shots taken during the trip that you would like to share with our readers?
Totally! I have a few northern lights shots and a few photos from the rig too!
We notice that you’re quite good at woodworking. How did you learn all that stuff?
Just tinkering! There are these old wizards in our woodshop (my main man Richard!) and they literally take the time to teach me anything I’m stuck with. It’s amazing and an incredibly collaborative space.
Do you have a favorite woodworking project? Please share them with our readers.
I just made a baseball bat that’s got this really intricate glue up. It’s definitely been a dream in my head for a while and it was incredibly challenging, so I’m pumped it turned out!
We also found out that you’re quite the adventurer. What is it about the open roads and occasional murky waters that hook you in?
What is it about the open roads and murky waters that don’t hook people in?! Haha it’s such a great and peaceful environment
Some of your videos and photos show motorcycle trips and skateboard flips. What’s do you like best about hitting the trail and flipping over barriers? Who are the “usual suspects” that you hang out with?
Oh man! so we have a little moto crew, ‘HSMC’ or High Strangeness Motorcycle Club, and we just roll around on our KLR 650’s. We’re all skateboarders and I am the guy that documents everything. It’s a hoot.
We dig your creative work. How do you stay inspired? What drives you to go places and search for amazing things to cover?
Any upcoming projects? What’s next for Andrew Szeto?
YouTube is the big platform that I’m trying to develop for myself now. Informative, entertaining and rad video content is where I think things are going. So trying to develop my channel and style on there!
What was the best advice that was given to you?
The best advice I’ve heard is all in this podcast by Seth Godin: Build your tribe and work hard!
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring creatives and adventurous souls like yourself?
What Seth said! Haha a major reason as to why I push myself, was that I used to keep my head down and work hard at my job. My good friend, old skateboard teammate, Charlie Bowins would always take these wild adventures to Asia, Mexico, everywhere and would ask me to go. I always wanted to but would prioritize work. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years back and I have a bunch of regrets about not having adventured more with him. It’s been said a million times, but a daily reminder is important — life is short, go accomplish your damn dreams.
What does a perfect day look like for Andrew Szeto?
Ripping around on a helicopter for the Coast Guard, shooting/being integrated in an important mission, finishing work and going skateboarding, going to the woodshop making an epic product and hopefully editing some rad photos/videos by the end of the day over a beer!
What would you be if you weren’t a photographer?
I would have loved to have pursued becoming a Search and Rescue Technician! They’re incredible humans and get deployed in all types of scenarios trying to save folks. Super inspirational and epicly adventurous.
Last words for our readers?
Get out there and have some fun! Make important shit happen.