The expedition doctor who photographs his extreme travels

CNN  — 

Meet Andrew Peacock – he’s an expedition doctor who travels to the Earth’s most remote locations to care for people in high-risk, high-altitude situations.

But the Australian doctor doesn’t just save lives – Peacock is also a keen photographer who takes stunning snapshots of his travels.

He showcases his photos on his Instagram and Facebook – depicting everything from the light hitting an Antarctic iceberg to the misty Tanzawa Mountain range in Japan.

“It’s equally as important for me as the medical work I do,” Peacock tells CNN Travel.

Change of path

Andrew Peacock travels to spectacular locations across the world, including Paradise Harbor in the Antarctic Peninsula, pictured here.

When he was a junior doctor, Peacock found the perfect way to relieve stress: rock climbing.

“I really enjoyed this new kind of challenge that was much more about adventure, but still quite physical, and obviously also really mental,” Peacock tells CNN Travel.

Little did Peacock realize that the thrills of climbing would change his life.

“That took me away from what you might call a regular medical career,” he says.

“I started exploring options for getting involved in expeditions and being able to do adventure activities at the same time as taking care of people in remote environments.”

Peacock has also worked in the Denali National Park in Alaska, USA, pictured here.

Peacock’s first experience caring for patients in extremity was in South Asia.

“Initially what took me to the mountains was I volunteered to work as a doctor in India,” he explains. “I was working for the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala up in the north.”

Shortly after, Peacock began working in Nepal for the Himalayan Rescue Association.

“That gave me an entry to the world of altitude illness, looking after people in the mountains,” he says.

Peacock loved this experience – it combined his passion for healing with his passion for adventure.

He had the bug, and more adventures were to come.

Documenting the world

Peacock's travels took him to North Canyon in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA.

Aware that these were potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, Peacock decided to document his experiences in Nepal and India by taking photographs.

“I took 50 rolls of slide film with me. I’d always been interested in photography,” he says.

Peacock submitted the resulting images to what was then the Lonely Planet Image Library, now owned by Getty Images.

“Suddenly I had a few images that were published in their guide books, that gave me a real focus for an outlet for photography,” remembers Peacock.

The doctor was delighted.

“I’ve always – even when I was younger – looked up to photographers for inspiration, in terms of just the way they see the world,” he explains. “This idea that maybe I could be a part of that community was really appealing.”

Worldwide wandering

Peacock took this photograph on board a boat in Naeroyfjord, Norway.

Now Peacock explores both photography and medical opportunities – his favorite jobs combine both.

“The trips that I was taking and continue to take were very much with the idea of looking for good compositions and good light,” he says. “Trying to tell a story and producing hopefully some very interesting images for people to see.”

Peacock’s Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with beautiful photographs – peppered with interesting insights into his medical work.

He’s grateful for the outlet social media has provided, but acknowledges platforms like Instagram have had both a positive and negative affect on the photography industry.

Peacock says social media has both positives and negatives. Pictured here: Ranger team bonding, Fairview Inn, Talkeetna, Alaska.

“I think it has fundamentally changed the world of photography, I think most people probably agree with that. It’s made it more accessible which is awesome,” Peacock says.

“But I think there are so many images out there, I think it’s just made people a bit numb to the world of photography.”

To stand out, Peacock tries to innovate and stay true to his experiences.

“I very much try and keep things real,” he says. “In the sense that I’m not manipulating images to produce something that didn’t really look that way to begin with. I’m also just trying to tell that story of what I experienced.”

Spectacular stories

Peacock photographed these silhouetted runners in Ahal Province, Turkmenistan.

And why would you edit or manipulate when that those stories are so spectacular?

“I’ve certainly been lucky to have a number of interesting trips working as a doctor,” says Peacock.

“For instance a few years ago I traveled with a group of ultra runners who were running from Istanbul in Turkey to Xi’an in China over five months.”

Peacock’s sunset-tinged images of the silhouetted athletes are striking – and he says the experience was unforgettable.

“They were running 70 kilometers a day and I was one of the medical people involved in that journey,” he says. “I was only there for three months but we traveled through Turkey and Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan – really, really fascinating areas of the world.”

This view to the north-east over Lake Yamanakako covered in mist, was photographed by Peacock from the summit of Mount Fuji.

Peacock says the best thing about his job is that – because he’s working and not just touring – he can truly embrace the cultures he visits.

“You have a real decent amount of time to interact with people in these interesting countries,” he says.

More recently, Peacock has also branched into photography instruction.

“I’ve recently been added to the staff as a photo instructor for Lindblad Expeditions, who are an adventure travel company that run a fleet of ships around the world and their expeditions often have a real photography angle to them for their guests,” he says.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to expose people to photography and hopefully inspire them and do some teaching.”

Multi-hyphenated world

Peacock's travels took him to Salisbury Plain in South Georgia, where he photographed these penguins.

Peacock’s multiple career path is becoming more popular – in large part due to social media, which allows creatives to showcase their work, even if they are working full-time in another industry.

“If people have passions in other directions I’d certainly encourage ways to pursue those,” says Peacock. “Even when you’re a bit older […] It’s not impossible to do that later on in life as well.”

Peacock is aware he’s lucky to have an accommodating lifestyle – his wife also loves to travel and she also has a flexible work schedule. She’s American and he’s Australian, so they split the time between the two continents.

Peacock hopes to continue combining medical work with travel, to locations including the Antarctic Lemaire channel, pictured here.

Plus, adds Peacock “in medicine – we’re lucky, mostly, to earn quite well – it means that perhaps you will have the opportunity to do lots of travel if that’s what you like.”

When Peacock isn’t venturing up mountains in remote locations, he’s working a more “conventional” job in the emergency room in Australia.

Ideally, he plans to continue his photography, globetrotting and healing.

“It’s an awesome way to travel – and I also enjoy working in the emergency room when I work in Australia and so if I can continue to combine those two things then that’s great,” he says.