Travel photographer Jessica Sample (@jessicasample) has been to countless destinations across the globe, but her trip to The Azores - an archipelago of Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic– was one that really blew her away. From the gorgeous hydrangea bushes on São Miguel Island that lined almost every single road; massive, perfectly pruned and all the same powder blue colour, to the thermal soaking pool at Terra Nostra, her photographs offer a very enticing taste of what might be expected and experienced there.
The island reminded me of a combination of an east coast hydrangea-filled island, Iceland with its hot springs and volcanoes, Hawaii with its lush foliage and clear sea, and Ireland with its pastoral grazing cows. But really São Miguel is its own special place with us visitors trying to make sense of its unique beauty.
With her images, Jessica aimed to capture the magical natural wonder of these islands, where steam rises from the ground and fog blankets the landscape from the sky. And indeed, the places she’s photographed do appear mystical and almost otherworldly, so much so that they make you want to get on the first plane to see it all for yourself.
Lagao do Fogo’s turquoise water and dramatic clouds look like a setting from a fantasy novel. The hot springs of Caldeira Velha look like a swimming pool in the heart of the Amazon jungle. The lighthouse ‘Farol da Ponta da Ferraria’ is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film, and is conveniently close to an ocean- side thermal bath.
Having never seen an oceanside hot spring before, and after having visited Iceland – a country famous for its hot springs, geothermal pools and lagoons – the Azores felt a lot more undiscovered to Jessica. She found that the people are very in touch with their land, utilising the steaming volcanic vapor under the earth to cook cozido: stews buried in pots underground that slow cook for many hours.
Jessica combined her trip to the Azores with a trip to Lisbon, an amazing city that she recognises is on a lot of people’s radars. Not that we needed one, this serves as yet another reason why the Azores is a very worthwhile destination.
To me it's like a grungier, smaller Barcelona and the Azores is only a short flight away. You can also reach the Azores on a direct flight from Boston or New York in about 5 hours, the same time it would take you to fly to California.
As well as her photography website, Jessica has also created a travel website, ‘Those Who Wander,’ where she provides travel guides to all of the places she has been. You can find her very informative guide to The Azores here.
Jessica grew up in Los Angeles and has been traveling far from home and taking pictures ever since childhood. Her parents owned a stock footage company and she accompanied them across the world with her camera to places as far flung as Bhutan, Tibet, Africa, Europe, and Indonesia. She was previously the Deputy Photo Editor at Travel + Leisure Magazine in New York and has been a frequent contributor to the magazine. She is also the curator of Wanderlust: A Silent Auction Benefit that auctions travel photography prints to raise money for environmental charities. Jessica is currently based in Los Angeles.