I was honored to be interviewed by Virginie Wéverberg, a student in communication at the “Université Libre de Bruxelles”. Here’s the really nice article she wrote on my experience:
Dream your life or live your dreams…
François de Halleux made his choice – The story of a talented travel photographer
by Virginie Wéverberg
It is in the very nice and small restaurant called “Le Hasard des choses”, located within a stone’s throw from the place Chatelain in Brussels that François and I met.
The initial idea was to record the interview while we were at the exhibition but we soon realized that it was a far from easy task because of, among other things, the sound of clanking dishes and silverware. His simplicity and his kindness are reflected in his spontaneous suggestion to meet again in a quiet place. Consequently, he nicely agreed to come to my office at the Delvaux headquarters where I am currently undergoing an internship. And I am glad he did: His story is gripping, quite unusual and unexpected for a 28-year-old management engineer, to say the least.
François de Halleux was born in Belgium and studied management engineering for five years in Louvain-la-Neuve. It is during his exchange program in South Africa that he developed a taste for both traveling and photography. Even though he specialized in finance, he knew that he would not like to work for a financial institution and he had always been passionate about the internet “so [he wanted] at least to try to work for one of the big internet companies”. He succeeded in doing so but in September 2009, after three years of good and faithful service at the Google headquarters, which are located in Dublin, he decided to chuck it all in order to fulfil a dream he has had for a long time: travel the world. During his last conversation with his grandfather, the latter told him that his greatest regret in life was not to have followed his passion for Romanesque architecture and to have so heavily focused on his insurance business. This is one of the reasons why François decided to leave his job at Google. He was “starting to think to move on to another job but [he] had this idea of traveling [in mind]. The perfect time to travel was maybe before taking another job.”
He then came up with this daring idea: to fly to Sydney and make it back to Brussels without flying! He only had a few rules to stick to: no flights, no time limit and no fixed itinerary. It finally took him 273 days but he did it! He crossed 22 countries, covered more than 32000 kilometers and more importantly he managed to stick to his objective: he did not take a single flight. Nevertheless, he has been compelled to change considerably the initial itinerary he had drawn on a map.
He visited, among other things, the natural beauty of Australia, the heat of South-East Asia in Singapore, Indonesia, Northern Vietnam, the contradictory modern China and the spiritual high plateau of Tibet. He then crossed Central Asia and its mysterious countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaidjan. Georgia and Turkey were the last legs of his journey before finally reaching Europe.
Even though the Belgian artist’s dream came true, he thinks about the future and grasps how difficult it is to earn a living from his passion. “It is great as a hobby but it is not enough to really earn money. I think [you need] to find a specific style that defines you [in order] to become a pro. Maybe I will find it one day but for now I don’t think that moment happened yet. Hopefully later. We will see…” He already plans another exhibition and would like to publish a book with his best pictures.
Thanks to his blog completely written in English, people from all over the world were able to follow his adventures and stay updated with all the legs of his journey. Not only can one find magnificent pictures of all the countries he has visited, but also enjoy eco-friendly tips. While traveling, François paid special attention to places where the impact of human activities on the environment is the most appalling. The purpose of his journey was to demonstrate that the plane is not the only way to travel. His award for winning his bet are the thousands of pictures he came back with and the priceless sensation to be totally free. Saint Augustine said: The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. Thanks to his pictures, we already travel. It is a good start to read the book.