"You're never going to kill storytelling, because it's built into the human plan. We come with it." - Margaret Atwood
I've always been a little jealous of photographers who travel for a living. That's probably weird to hear from a photographer writing a blog about shooting destinations but the difference is that it took me a long time to realize that I do my best work for my clients when I'm happy with what I'm doing for myself. Let that sink in for a second. What if as a photographer you're spending so much time trying to get clients, then trying to convince clients to love you, then trying to shoot to make clients happy, then trying to edit for what your clients will like, and then making sure that everything you did was up to your clients standards so that they'll help you get more clients that you've left your soul about fifteen steps back gasping for a fresh breath of creativity. That's where I found myself a few years ago and that's a place I won't be going back to. These days we travel a lot and the reality of spending a lot of time on the road is that we've learned a lot of lessons the hard way. How to pack our gear so that we can take 5 cameras, 10 lenses, 5 flashes, a slew of random accesories, two laptops and hardrives on the plane is an art. In reality these days there's plenty of flights where I don't have space for a magazine in my bag to look at (and usually I have so many things to edit I don't have time to read it anyway).
All that said this whole post is all about the life of a destination photographer and we're living a life that I know most people look at with a little bit of wonder. That's actually wildly humbling to me simply because it's a life that I can say I have worked so hard for but still can't believe I deserve. Here's where I'll start the meat of the post. If you're the kind of person who pictures themselves spending the vast majority of your life in a small office in front of a computer with headphones and calm music on as you drink cups of coffee and crunch numbers for a company you secretly hate all the while counting the days you get to request a vacation from a boss you don't like so that you can go on a trip you can barely afford than stop reading. BUT if you're the type of person who sees yourself wanting just a touch of adventure I'm talking directly to you. I think we live in a world of action movies where adventure is Tom Cruise jumping from a moving plane to a helicopter over a flaming building and we forget that adventure doesn't have to be quite that big. In fact a lot of our little adventures are a few minutes long. We pull the car over instead of wishing we had for the next 30 minutes. We take a walk up that path or wander around the next corner because for as much time as we spend working what drives me in life is simply three things. 1. My understanding that God has blessed me beyond belief with the life that I live. 2. My family and friends support me so much that I owe it to them not just to make them proud but to be the best at what I do that I can. 3. If I stop paying attention to culture and color and the way life moves around me I'll stop learning to appreciate all of those things. Here's the point, life has a speed to is that we're all pretty used to - but the thing you'll learn as a destination photogpaher in a hurry is that every where you go that speed is different.
This trip started as a flight through NY (my favorite city in the world) and into Boston (another amazing city). We spent the afternoon walking around not looking for the tourist traps or the pay to play areas that you're supposed to see when you enter a city but watching the speed of life. When you sit back for long enough to watch the way people walk and talk, the way people drive and work and rest and laugh you'll realize that there's almost a beat to each place you visit. That beat is the photo. I don't get super caught up in composition and light when I spend time shooting for me. Remember - this isn't about my client. It's time for me. It's a time I set aside before I start to shoot for my client where I goal is to understand the pace of their lives. Understand the light where they live. Understand what makes their surroundings beautiful and before I take those pictures that are going to make THEM happy - I take a few for me. This trip through Boston was selfish - but so important. After a few hours in Boston and a dive grill on the far side of downtown it was time for a drive. 4 hours outside of Boston we pull through New Hampshire (a fairly desolate corner of the country but wildly beautiful) and then after a few dozen "Moose Crossing" signs, a Red Bull, and several Canada jokes we hit Vermont and that pace of life I keep talking about came to a near stand still. Where I'm sitting now a second is a minute. That's right time is snail pace and then as we hiked the last few steps at the top of the peak this morning to see what Vermont looked like from the top floor of Killington mountain it officially came to a stop.
Remember - shoot for you. Shoot for you. Shoot for you. But first - learn to set your camera down and enjoy it. The whole reason I carry an amazing camera bag (shameless plug for LOWEPRO here) is so that I have the ability to carry my gear with me AND (wrap your mind around this) PUT IT AWAY. Delyn and I got to work at the top of that mountain shooting shots of our bags and the sky and enjoying every second - but that was after we caught a minute to just realize that THIS is why we do this job. Because inside a cubicle the air doesn't smell quite like it does at the top of a 5000 Vermont mountain. Because the smile on my face has nothing to do with the money I made or the car I drive but the fact that in that moment I'm seeing something new and beautiful. OK - that's my rant. It's a wild blessing doing this job for a living. I am so blessed to be paid to travel and experience new things. Blessed to come home to a nice home with a beautiful wife and two cute kids. Blessed to love my car, and my camera gear but most of all I'm blessed that my life is one that I am choosing to live the way I feel like best suits who I am and glorifies God as loud as I can. This might feel like a weird segway here - but the reality is that the whole blog post leads right to this. A part of being really focused on the work and the life that I leave is other companies noticing that the work we do all comes from a place of joy.
Lowepro brought my team on a few months back and sponsored us in a way that has been a complete dream. I've been carrying Lowepro bags for years simply because it's what you're SUPPOSED to carry. It's the staple. The professionals choice. But what I'd never paid attention to is how many options there are before. I can say that the most relaxing and amazing part about this relationship with Lowepro is that I've taken the time to find the bag that fits me! Huge piece of advice here - if you're carrying a bag because it looks cool, or cute, or whatever - BUT you're not carrying that same bag because it helps you do your job... It's a purse, not a camera bag. I have quite a few bags these days and they all look cool - but they also serve a purpose. And whether that's climbing a mountain or running through city streets my bag matters. It says a lot about who I am and what company I work for. As a part of this amazing relationship with LP SO many of you guys are coming over from the LOWEPRO instagram account to see how you can score some goodies. We've got good news - if you've read this far you're about to find out!
The black bag that I'm carrying in these photos is my absolute all time favorite bag : the Protactic 450 is a dream for me. 3 points of entry. Enough room for a full body, a ton of lenses and accessories, a few little neat pockets here and there, comfortable straps and a super slick urban look that I wear with a suit or with joggers. Evidently it climbs mountains alright as well! This bag is a BEAST and along with Lowepro we're so excited to be able to offer one of these to a pretty lucky follower. On top of that bag we'll be giving away a 2 hour marketing consultation and portfolio review (via phone, skype, teleconference), and a MWB / Lowepro t-shirt. If you want to win one of these prizes here's what you need to do!!
HOW TO WIN FREE SWAG FROM LOWEPRO AND MWB
1. FOLLOW @loweprobags // @mileswittboyer // @delynstirewalt on instagram
2. REPOST your favorite shot from our Instagram Takeover and tell us "WHAT DOES ADVENTURE MEAN TO YOU?"
3. Make sure you use the #mwblptakeover so that we can see that you submitted!
THAT'S IT! We'll read through your adventure stories and reach out to three lucky winners on Monday to celebrate a weekend of LIVE posting and celebrating the life of photographers doing this for the love of what we do that the love of art.
A huge thank you to LowePro for always making us look good! Good luck and ADVENTURE EVERYTHING. -Miles
Fine Print :
Only one winner per prize // winners will be chosen based on "adventure" story // winners are chosen by Miles Witt Boyer // item carry no cash value and can not be traded in or exchanged // winner must have completed all three steps to receive prize