Photography was never a lifelong dream of mine or anything like that. When I was little I wanted to be some sort of rock-n-roll astronaut stuntman who wrote spy novels and amazing cookbooks, and who of course dabbled in archaeology and the paranormal. I still want to be that. (Or maybe a ninja?) I also knew early that I wanted to explore the world. Maybe it was my parents’ subscription to National Geographic that did it, along with James Bond movies and adventure books. I don’t know. As far as photography is concerned though, I didn’t get “into” it until I was 16 and started messing around with an Olympus OM-1. This was my first proper camera, and I can trace my love of taking pictures back to this little wonder. Nowadays I shoot with a trio of beat-up old Nikons and a brand new one I got in 2016.


I moved to California at 16 and attended Palomar College in San Marcos, concentrating on anthropology and then later cinema and photography. I took lots of courses mainly just to have access to the darkroom, where I would spend entire days immersed in some project or another. I volunteered weekly at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and worked as a photographer for the school newspaper, The Telescope.


After four years I headed back to Philly and somehow got the weird job of principal photographer for the Spirit of Philadelphia, a dinner cruise ship on the Delaware River. My duties were somewhat similar to those of Ted McGinley’s character “Ace” Covington from The Love Boat, although I swear I wasn’t that lame. Not the most artistic of assignments, but I did get to earn a living with a camera. My official job title was “Funtographer” if you can believe that. I saved up for a trip to Thailand in 1995, and this changed everything.


Since then, if you add it all up, I have spent about ten full years on the road exploring and photographing Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Antarctica. During these trips and over the years I have had an assortment of odd jobs, including the following: apple-picker, janitor, welder, cook, courier, hotel review writer, mover, stagehand, meatpacker, desk clerk, movie extra, picture framer, guinea pig, blogger, and songwriter-bassist-guitarist-vocalist in a few bands and several music projects. Currently I "make a living" with my photography, regularly exhibiting at art fairs in the US, usually from May to October.


I continue to travel and recent adventures include walking over 4000 miles across France, Spain, and Portugal between 2013 and 2020, walking hundreds of miles around Ireland, and a great little trip from Mexico to Costa Rica overland in late 2019. The treks through Europe will be the subjects of my first photography books, which are an ongoing project.


I must be clear: photography is not the reason I travel.


It’s just a wonderful side effect of the drug that is exploration.


I travel out of curiosity.

I travel because I have dreamt of doing it since I was little.

I travel because I love the newness of every day away.


And of course, while I'm on the road, I take pictures, and I think the basic recurring theme

is a simple one: the extraordinary nature of ordinary life.   


I shoot a lot of my images on either Kodak or Fuji professional slide film. In 2013 I gave digital a whirl, and I now use both. I mount, mat, and frame everything myself. At the very least I would like my photography to inspire people to do some travelling of their own, and if I can be successful at it, maybe I can work on that whole rock-n-roll astronaut stuntman ninja thing.  Maybe.

-efp 2020

Syria, 1999

eugene francis pembroke

 photography from around the world