What do you do for a living?
I’m a documentary and travel photographer (@MarkEdwardHarrisPhoto) as well as an author. My latest book is The People of the Forest, about orangutans. The title comes from the Malay words orang (people) and utan (forest). We share almost 97 percent of the same DNA with this incredible but endangered species.
Do you have a favorite destination to photograph?
Japan. It has so much to offer, from the snow monkeys of Jigokudani and the cranes of Kushiro to the Hokusaiesque views of Mount Fuji and the street life in Tokyo.
Since travel is part of your job, how do you separate work from vacation?
In one sense, my whole life is a vacation. I am never more fulfilled than when I have a camera in hand exploring the world, whether it’s close to home, doing night shots in Joshua Tree, or deep in the jungles of Borneo. It would be painful for me to be in some amazing place “on vacation” without a camera nearby.
How many countries have you visited?
I’ve been to 101 countries so far. I am constantly returning to Japan, but there are so many amazing places on this planet that are great to visit for different reasons. Hiking in the Swiss Alps, exploring the chaotic streets of India, getting up early in China to join people in a park doing qigong…
What was the last trip you took?
I was in Washington, D.C., documenting my friend, Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Nick Ut, receiving the National Medal of Arts at the White House for Newsweek.
What place is at the top of your bucket list?
If I could name a few, they would be Bhutan to photograph Paro Taktsang; the Seychelles, to stay on Fregate Island and explore the island and surrounding waters; and the Antarctic. I find the remoteness of all three fascinating.
What new skill have you picked up on your travels?
I would say that it’s more because of my travels, but I have made a concerted effort to learn Japanese and now Mandarin. I hope to have the latter fully up and running in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2022.
What’s your favorite souvenir from your travels?
I have a bookcase made out of ancient decorated oxcart handles that I bought in Cochin, India, that is a constant reminder of how the road is an endless source of inspiration.
Which famous person—living or dead—would be your dream seatmate?
The great historian William Durant, who wrote the Story of Civilization series, capped off by The Lessons of History, cowritten with his wife and fellow historian Ariel. My bachelor’s is in history, and my master’s focuses on documentary work, so I would probably hang on every word he uttered during the flight.