One of Lauren’s many wonderful photos. For more, check out her website or Instagram.
1. Could you share a little bit about yourself and how you got started in photography?
Sure. Most people don’t realize this but I actually got into photography through using Instagram, not the other way around. I was an early adopter on the platform starting in August 2011. Before too long I found myself hooked on taking and sharing mobile images and decided to try my hand with a dslr. After purchasing my first camera, a Nikon D7000, I fell head over heels with photography and this was a love affair that I was able to share with my already burgeoning Instagram community.
Before Instagram I was a chef with 15 years in that industry. Despite what many think I actually enjoyed this career for many years and I find myself incredibly fortunate to have found and worked at two passions consecutively. I made the transition from chef to photographer/ instagrammer two and a half years ago and I’ve never looked back.
I describe my work as more of a marketing role than a photographer although my photography does factor in. I work within the tourism industry promoting destinations to my social media communities using pictures and telling stories. I’ve transitioned into project management, consultancy and education as well which means from job to job I am constantly challenged. I’m passionate about travel and the tourism industry, which makes me strive towards creating quality images to share my experiences.
2. There’s lots of ways to market yourself as a photographer these days. What platforms do you use? Do you use different strategies to reach your audience with each platform?
One thing that I will say is that I really don’t like it when photographers put exactly the same content out to all of their platforms at the same time. If I follow someone on, say, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ I might be subjected to seeing the same photo and story four times in 24 hours. What photographers should be striving towards is driving their followers to different platforms and giving them the incentive to cross over.
I personally use Twitter, Instagram, Personal and Business Facebook, Google+ and Steller. In addition I write for several online publications and have just launched my own website. I try new platforms regularly and occasionally pick a new one up for regular use. The latest was Steller.
I use Twitter to retweet interesting tidbits about my career and announcements on upcoming events I am involved in. I use business Facebook for “highlight” album posts of travel campaigns, usually one to two albums per destination with up to ten images per album. I use personal Facebook for people that I know where I post funny and interesting behind the scenes stories and snaps. I use Google+ for high resolution and hero shots and Steller for creating funny little stories than encompass behind the scenes shots, selfies, field notes and settings.
Instagram is my main place where I post up to four images daily and tell the story of my travels and the destination I am in. I’m very engaged here and it’s the best place to ask me a question and expect an answer.
When I write articles the topics can be anything from travel/destination writing to how I got into this industry to photography specific pieces. What I’m trying to achieve is that people who are genuinely interested in me can learn more about me on every platform.
3. What advice would you give to someone looking to build up their own community of followers on Instagram?
This is a tough one for me to answer because everything that I did on Instagram was organic and the thought of being a professional instagrammer was unheard of. I find that the problem now is that professionals are starting Instagram with the firm goal of using the platform to monetize or attract opportunities and for this reason their approach isn’t natural.
If you truly want to succeed on Instagram you need to love Instagram. Building a strong community, sharing and putting yourself out there take time and effort and nobody wants to invest that kind of time into something they don’t love. When I first started using Instagram it wasn’t uncommon to spend 6-8 hours a day on there and even now I’m usually present on the app for at least two hours a day.
The trick is to use Instagram because you want to. Seek out amazing people to follow, be interested and invested in others, give back and be SOCIAL. I think Instagram is a lot less about photography than many believe. Instagram is about community, support and inspiration, the pictures are just the cherry on top.
4. As a travel photographer, you get to go on a lot of cool trips. How do you manage planning trips, exploring, taking photos, editing, and business inquiries while on the road?
This is a great question and something that I’m not asked often enough. Balancing my life is tough! Everybody sees the
cool trips and experiences and assumes that I have the best life ever when in reality I work my butt off every minute of every day.
Yes, I love what I do and I believe I have the best job in the world but I work for it. For every laugh and amazing shot captured and career highlight is a Saturday night spent on the computer or a missed family engagement or a decline in my health. This year I am focused on bringing more balance into my life and my fingers are crossed that I can achieve this.
To answer this question more helpfully, this is my current workflow on trips. I wake up early every day for sunrise and the time varies significantly from country to country and season to season. After a sunrise shoot I eat breakfast with my laptop where I edit the mornings “keepers” and make my first Instagram post for the day. If I’m lucky I grab a shower and a half an hour break but more often than not I’m on the road straight after breakfast. Throughout the day I am shooting, scouting for places to shoot and spending more time on Instagram.
Afternoons are spent on my laptop again and I usually try to keep on top of emails while I’m away. Considering my average time spent on emails is 2 hours a day this can be tough. Reporting, book keeping, new pitches and other business tasks are usually left for my limited time at home. I shoot sunset daily and occasionally manage a night shoot too. I like an early dinner, a beer or two and an early night. Catching 8 hours sleep is important for
my energy levels.
When I am the project manager for a trip and I’m also hosting I can find that my photography suffers as I put the needs of my influencers first.
5. If there’s one thing that has changed the way you work as a photographer, what would it be?
I guess I’m a funny case because the way that I work as a photographer has been dictated by learning in front of an audience. From my very first post using an iPhone 4 to learning my dslr to upgrades and more, it has all been on public display. So in saying that, nothing has changed for me.
It was always very important to me as I monetized off my social media reach that I would never “sell out”. I wanted to continue to do the things that made people interested in me only in cooler places. I’m honest, I over share, I’ve always got a funny story to tell and I put it all out there.
The only thing that has really changed is that now I play with more expensive toys. 😉
6. Anything else you’d like to add?
For those that are interested my kit is:
Camera and Lenses
- Nikon D800
- Nikon D750
- 14-24 f2.8 Nikkor lens
- 24-70 f2.8 Nikkor lens
- 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor lens
- 50mm prime
- 85mm prime
- (Nikon does not sponsor me.)
- Manfrotto (sponsored)
- Current model is a carbon fiber with a ball head.
- Lee (sponsored)
- Various graduated and straight neutral density filters and a circular polarizer
- F-stop (supported)
- I have a bad back and f-stop is the first camera bag that distributes the weight of my kit and doesn’t hurt my back
- I also use a Manfrotto sling bag for active days
- Apple iPhone 6+
- Apple iPhone 5+
- Ipad 2
- Macbook Pro 15″
- (Apple does not sponsor me)