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Become a Thought Expert to Further Your Brand

Lesson 22 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

Become a Thought Expert to Further Your Brand

Lesson 22 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

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Lesson Info

22. Become a Thought Expert to Further Your Brand


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Break Into Travel & Destination Wedding Photography


How Are You Perceived as a Photographer?


Brand Yourself Before Others Brand You


Activity: What Are Your Photography Goals?


Owning Your Own Style


Preparing for a Photoshoot


The Importance of Research


Lesson Info

Become a Thought Expert to Further Your Brand

This is an image that I shot recently in Finland, and I'm gonna talk about this trip and how it came to be and I want to talk about becoming a thought expert to further your brand and your words are searchable. So we've definitely touched on this, but I want to kind of drive this point home because for me, I always looked at okay. One day, I'd love to have a TV show. Right. Okay. What do I take? The big idea. And then I break down the layers like an onion. Like what I did you to get That would have to do to get that when? And I kind of break it down. And I started once I was being like, Okay, all the people that have shows before that they were doing speaking engagements and before speaking, engagements they were writing and before the right And I'm like they were an expert like, how did they become an expert at their field, And it all when you came very back to the bottom, like the inside of the onion it was they share their ideas. So you have to share your ideas and write them down a...

nd in order to become an expert, anything like any expert out there, whether you're an expert knitter or stamp collector, photographer or cook or whatever, like you are sharing your information, which is what is making you an expert and making you noticed, right? So when I realized that I was like I one day wanna have a TV show, I want to start writing things down and sharing him and it doesn't And I started with my own blawg. And then I was like, Who's reading my blawg like I don't know, you know, like I really who's reading my blogged. And so I just wanted Teoh. That's when I started an idea like Okay, well, more people read up in post or more people read this other blog's, so maybe I'll start guest blogging for them. And so I started really almost taking away from my own blawg and and guess blogging for others. But I didn't like kill my own blawg. I think it's really important to have your own block and show that you are your own entity in business. But what I would do is I guest blogged for other people and then I would do, sort of like an extended content on my own blog's. I would write a similar story, and then sometimes I didn't even write a story. I would just write like a paragraph about it and be like, You want to read more about this? Click here and then link it to like the Huffington Post article. But I would show different photos that I didn't show in the article. So it gave people a reason to want Teoh to see that I can also put a link at the end of might happen in Post Thing and say, If you want to see more images, click here and it takes them back to my blawg so you can do things like that and kind of drive traffic back and forth. But I remember I'd be like No one's reading at my mom's like I'm reading your blogging like Thanks, Mom. Yeah, hey, really doing anything? But it was cool because my mom was like, she's a writer. Uh, but I started thinking, like, Okay, how do I align myself with people to get my words out there more, but ultimately as a photographer in the beginning, I was always a submitting. We talked about this yesterday. Like you submit stories with your photos. Whoever just ask that question to and no, In the beginning, I didn't I would just do really cool shoot and submit it and be like, Isn't it awesome? Like, don't you want to publish it? Like I mean, I don't know. Sure. Maybe somewhere will fit in. And when I didn't have a story was it was harder to publish. And it was a few and far between I got Yes, is So I think that you know your words, air searchable on your words or how people are gonna find you an Internet. And that's how a lot of my bride's find me just from keywords. I put in my own blawg. I'll blawg you know, certain phrases and things or locations or places, and then it brings traffic back to me. But ultimately the lesson I learned was especially in the press and media world. It was like this huge Ah ha moment. I just had it like two years ago because I've been on Lee really professionally writing for the last couple of years. I've been writing since I was five years old but not getting paid for it until letting two years ago. But I realized that most of these travel brands and companies don't care about the pictures as much, and I know that's terrible, but they want the press. They want the words, they want the traffic. And so a lot of these press photographer ever press journalist that they've been inviting on these press trips and things like that are literally shooting with their IPhone and and like doing their articles of IPhones. So I was sort of horrified about that. Like what? I thought I was so valuable as a photographer what I offered. Of course we're gonna bring me on this trip. But they cared if it was like a me versus, like a mom blogger. You know, that was gonna write an article and reach a bunch of people and me having amusing photos. They would probably choose her. And so I ended up getting asked to go on my first press trip, and it was I went without Dakota and I have done some pictures there, and they were like, Oh, we'd love for you to be involved in this press trip and I think because they probably hadn't been getting really good photos on previous press trip. So I was like, Oh, this is cool And they took us in a whole tour of South Dakota Board of Tourism and I didn't know these press trips existed like, and they basically invite a bunch of journalists out and, um, totally digressing at this point. But so they invited him to journalists out, and they basically just show you an amazing time, an amazing trip, and take care of everything, and they want you to write about it. So I just started writing for having imposed I published that first article, um, with my pictures and someone from the border Tourism South Dakota saw that article saw the pictures and inviting me to come on this trip, and I was like, Well, that exotic. But all girl is like And to be honest, it totally changed my perception of South Dakota. I did, though, get bitten by a black widow spider while I was shooting at the end of the trip and had to re arrest to the hospitals like this whole thing. They were like the border tourism was sending the sympathy flowers, and they're like, Please don't say anything bad about I know it's not your fault that we had to wear cowboy boots were like off riding with the with the buffalo for the buffalo round up and stuff. And I had a spider in my boot, I don't know. And ankle was like Solan during the day. And anyway, it was like this crazy experience. But I ended up writing about, um, you know, just like so many different things on that trip and and the cool thing about it was everyone else. That trip was a journalist taking pictures with like, crappy cameras. At the end of the trip, I reached out to all the journalists and said, Here's a link to my photos more than happy. If you want to use any of them, I'm not like charging for it. Just use it. And I got so much press up like they used like, um, like the thorough list and all these different art like like publications used all my images from that trip, and then that's why I probably did upon their freaking brochure. But like they honestly I was like, This is amazing because who says that you can't take your images and link up with someone who is already writing and you guys could be like a duo. And you could get a lot of press that way to start reaching out to people that are writing on, like look at their columns on the Thrillist or whoever always like people, just like re chopping them and say, Hey, like I have the school library of images from here. If you ever are doing article about anything like that, like feel free to use my images, it got to the point where some of the people that I met on that trip we're still like lifelong friends have, like they re talked to me and be like, Hey, I'm doing a story and, like, top crazy, unknown places in the U. S. You happen to have any ideas or any photos? And so sometimes I've helped them based on my photos right and create stories that they need. And so, like, they're always looking for content. There's so many writers out there that don't know how to take pictures and are looking for content. So, like, who says you, you know, like if you're not that good at writing partner up with someone who is on be like a duo. That was so off topic. But just I had to say that. Okay, So I want to get I want a top talk about Finland, which is what I brought the side. One of the miss amazing experiences of my life, like hands down was my recent trip I did in March to Lapland, to northern Finland. Teoh hunt down the northern lights. So I had seen this one photo here. This is the region we went Teoh. So it follow up in the north north of the Arctic Circle. That's where we flew into, and that's where the thermal heated glue hotel is. So this was my hotel room. I'm basically I saw a photo on the internet of this place, and it was kind of similar to that whole petrified sand dune. And I saw one photo and was like, I must go here like, where is this place? So I reached out to them and said, Hey, I written, I write for the Huffington Post, and as I have written, I said, I rape from happening post and and I've been dying is, like, literally number one on my bucket list to see the Northern Lights. I've been dying to go, and I want to do an adventure article about, like being in Aurora Hunter, you know, because you have to go hunt for them and they love the idea because there's a lot of articles going on. And I got that, too, because Conde Nast recently or not, recently last year did a piece about how the Northern lights are fading. They're actually gonna be, for the next 12 years, really hard to see because the sun goes through sort of cycles of heats. And so every 12 years it's either really bright that dims down or it's really hard to see and it goes fluctuates. So I thought, Oh God, like 12 years old probably like, you know, married with kids and really hard to go sleeping in England somewhere. You know, I had to do this now, and so I wrote to the Board of Tourism of of Finland and to this particular resort and said, I'm a writer. I'm a photographer. I really want to write this article about hunting down the Aurora before they fade away. And I took like a legitimate article that had received a lot of press and kind of used that as as the theme for my trip. Right? So take a current topic and use that for your theme. They love the idea. And so it started off. It was just gonna be Winston and I was like his birthday at the same time. I'm like, This is perfect. I decided to go in March because obviously, like January and December are the best times to see it. But that's because it's dark, like 23 hours on the day, and it's like, not really fun to live in perpetual darkness, and it's really cold. So I wanted to do where you still could see it, but that you have, you know, 10 hours of daylight to go do fun activities. So we went in March and it was epic. We think this is the hotel. These are the different hotel rooms and the entrances. They're kind of like a village of igloos. And, um, what is the second you get to the hotel? They give you a wilderness map and they're like, OK, your igloos 47 it's in like the East Village, and then they hand you a sled and they're like, have fun. And so basically, we're like, Wait, what? There's no one here. It helps their luggage. And they're like, put in this land, really pushing it like sliding down hills and get their, like the craziest hotel have ever been to you. But it was ended up not being his. Winston and I were gonna bring 15 of our friends to go on this adventure because once I told people like we were going on this trip, everyone's like, I wanna go, I want to go, I want to go. I'm like, I can't even get 15 people together for like, a dinner party at my house. But like, I somehow convinced him to go to the North Pole with me or not like north of the Arctic Circle. And then I was like, Ooh, this could be really cool. Like I could use these different people to repurpose my articles like maybe while I'm there. A lot of them were photographer friends of mine, maybe well, in there you could do an article about getting married there, and we could do a styled wedding shoot. They have a nice chapel there, literally. You could get pulled up by a sleigh with reindeer to your ice chapel to get married. And everything's carved out of ice inside of this chapel, like the benches in a meeting they have. The aisle is made out of reindeer hide. And I mean, it's like this crazy place. Not that we could do a styled wedding shoes. I have this ice chapel and I could write about it for a couple different wedding publications. And then we could do a honeymoon story. And even though I'm not married, I could, like, just do cute pictures of my boyfriend and, like, write a honeymoon story and, like we have other tigers. On the second, I got more and people involved like we could talk about on. I could do an article about how an adventurous way to like go on a group trip, but that you could also still have a romantic like how to have a group in a romantic trip at the same time. And I did like a little been yet you know, how it was so fun to do things as a group and then Winston. I would break off and do like a fun little activity. The two of us. I just started brainstorming and thinking of ideas, and so I was able to turn this trip until lots of different articles and publications. This one's OK. So we went to Tipsy Element got matching ski suits. It's the best website ever. If you need ridiculous key outfitters Winston and I and our Rainbow break ski suits trying to cross country ski, which, by the way, is no joke. I didn't understand why people were spandex until we tried to cross country skiing These huge warm outfits and we were dying. It was so high or like everyone was laughing at us as their skating by us because we were terrible and wearing these outfits. But it was great for photos. We did like a whole crazy theme thing. This was a series of pictures. We met this family of the same like the san. My people live up there there. They've been reindeer herders for centuries. So we went on a reindeer safari where you meet this family that own a bunch of reindeer and they pull you on these sleds around and they I got so excited. I told I showed them pictures of how I dress up in other cultures. Like when I was in the floating grass Islands is up and the and the woman like the matrix of the family got so excited and started dressing us up and their clothes. And we ended up doing this whole group shot with, like all of us wearing like the whole families outfits and they let us, like, pose it the reindeer And I was like, This is gonna be awesome for the story. So it became this impromptu photo shoot, but we just like, made friends with the locals and made it happen. And then we did some really cool like shots, like this sort of atmosphere shots that I could use for the honeymoon piece. And, you know, nothing crazy just wanted to show the different, like safaris that we went on. And the cool thing about Finland was that they call everything a safari. It's like husky safari, reindeer, Sabari, snowmobiling, safari. And so when I googled the word safari, it's literally like a quester, an adventure. Teoh get somewhere to find something. And that was what ended up when I was like, That's amazing. Like they literally call everything a safari. It really is a quester hunt. It's a hunt to find something. So you're hunting for the Aurora? And that was how I got the title of one of my articles was because all the tour groups they were calling everything a safari and like That's interesting. So it was. It was need just Sometimes you get your ideas as you're there and as you're experiencing it, this is one of the images I shot. This is actually the image I told you the story about that. I posted it on ST Patrick's Day and I was like Green happy is in practice today. And then that person ended up buying the image for their uncle that had passed away. And so this is what it looked like. It was so intense. I shot. It s so hard because you have to shoot it on a tripod. And we had it so vibrant that we only need to do Maybe if I've 5 to 12th exposure, sometimes in other places have heard from people that you have to do a 32nd exposure. It's so um, like Tim. But ours were so vibrant and changing and crazy, like the all the particles in the air were moving so fast that if I did too long of an exposure, it just looked like faded and kind of sloppy looking. And so, um, the most difficult part about shooting for this story was a my freezing hands. Like I literally holding like everything's metal, my tripod, my camera and I can't like function with my gloves that Wells had to take off my gloves is set everything. And you're in such freezing temperatures that it was that was probably the most miserable park. Finally, like get it all set up and take the picture. And then they moved like the sky. They would have moved another part of the sky. And I'm like craft, you know, like tryingto chasing down. It was it was a challenge toe able to document them. And I'm so happy that we got super lucky. We saw them for five nights in a row. Nobody see them like we had met people on the trip When we first got Teoh, the Arctic Hotel that had been there for two weeks and didn't see anything. It was cloudy. They saw nothing and they were, like, upset. And they're packing up their stuff. They're like, we're out of here, you know, we didn't see anything, so I was like, Oh, crap. I just brought 15 people here for this story. Like, what if we don't see anything? It's like a very real possibility. And then we were blessed with, like, five days of really intense northern lights. And so it was just one of those kind of experiences, but because we had so many nights, I think I got better as the night went on, because the first I was like, Man, that was really bad. I should have dropped the shutter that much. Maybe I should do it this way. And so I got to kind of play around with shooting the northern lights so that that part was really cool. Okay, I just had to share these because this story is ridiculous. So they had a thing. They had a glass teepee there that you could be warm and do yoga and, like, watch the northern lights at the same time. Pretty cool. And so also, we had a smoke sauna. If you can see the building right there gets about degrees in there. And what they dio is they cut a hole in their frozen lake is against that person walking there and near the smokes on a and you have to walk in and like you get so hot, you can't even wear rings or anything at all like skull, do you? You're super hot, and then you run out and jump into the frozen lake, and then you go back in the smokes on it, and you do it over and over. So, you know, And so I was like, Okay, well, I'm writing about adventure stuff like I got to do this. And so we're documenting it. And I was taking part in everything and and it was it was really fun. It was one of the most amazing experiences, but it was cool because I had to think about all these different stories. And I think about how long and illustrate each of these stories. And I think I talked a little bit about yesterday almost story boarding it. Ah, little bit and saying, OK, if I'm gonna illustrate this, what kinds of shots do I need and then like filling those in a little bit. We went on a dog sledding safari, which was one of the coolest things ever, and we got to spend time with the dogs. I like wanted you to kind of get to know your dogs and play with them. So I got to really sit there and do really cool portrait of the dogs close up like they would sit there and I almost want to have a conversation with you. They were willing trying to talk to you and they're the coolest animals on. So we had to learn how to a man, a two person dogsleds. So you one person sitting and it was perfect for photography because you have one person driving in one person sitting the slide so you could be taking pictures and video all your in the sled. But the person in the back is having to use the break, and they also have to push and give commands of the dogs and lean because if you don't lean the sled like the dogs around a curve and, like slingshot you into a tree or something and so you actually have to know how to drive it. So I was kind of shocked that they didn't really taught us in, like, five minutes how to drive this land. That was that they, like, set us off. So people like wrecking in the trees and all kind of stuff is happening, and we did it. But the other thing, too, is that the persons like like, you're pushing and they're driving. If they slip and fall up this lead this leading the dogs keep going. Like unless you give the dogs a command and use the break, they won't stop. So the person on the slide with the cameras like, has a runaway dog team. And that happened a couple times on the trip. But they were like all these adventures, and it was it was really need to experience of that. Um so more remind our viewers where you were in this trip. I think a couple of witnesses at the okay, I'm gonna butchering the cat Cox Lautan in Arctic Resort. And if you Google, if you google Laura Greer huffingtonpost, you'll see on article that I wrote about it and we will see, like all my articles were having imposed but this one there's links to it and like where it is. And the cool thing about this place is like five star Scandinavia, I think is the tour company that I use. And they're actually, I think, actually based here in Seattle, they organized, like, the whole trip. It was pretty amazing. They helped me all logistically because once you get there, you're kind of in a remote place. You kind of have to have everything already organized your transfers, your activities, your food packages and everything, cause once you're there, you're you're there. There's, like, nothing really around. Uh, we're about 30 miles from the border of Russia. When we were snowmobiling, we pretty much went right up to the border of Russia, and so you're really far up there. But they they should organize, is that I want everything adventurous like, Can you organize the best trip for me? And it was, uh, it was amazing that we did everything you could possibly do to hunt down the Aurora because I told her this is my story. I want to, like, talk about all the different ways to hunt down the Aurora, and so we did all these activities. Okay, this photo going back to the san my family that dressed all of my girlfriends and I up in their outfits. It was amusing, uh, she was actually a shaman and her like what would be considered a semi shaman, The woman who is letting us use their clothes and it's fascinating like that again. I don't know if you can see it, but I see it. There's so much similarities in their outfits to the Peruvian women in the Lake Titicaca catch. While women they have these really woven warm, colorful, similar colors, outfits and their hats tell a lot about them. Each hat is a personal thing. It tells a lot about their status within the family and stuff. So I thought that was really interesting here. These two cultures that have been around for centuries there, like nowhere near each other, have no contact with each other, and their outfits, their their colors, their designs and their ideas are really similar. Besides, I thought that was really interesting. OK, so this is just showing a little bit of ice chapel and, uh, way like dressed up one of the girls we had a girl that makes these beautiful kind of crystal headpieces. And and we wanted to illustrate a couple of pictures just so I could write about weddings there. So we do like a fun shoot inside the chapel, and I just did some more like beauty shots and stuff. And then I just really showcased the incident chapel and like the ways like the reindeer in the sled and all of that for the article. But I just wanted to show you guys the inside of the the chapel was pretty amazing, and they gave a special permission to go in and shoot there. And that's another cool thing to If you're telling people that I'm a writer and I'm doing exciting and this is my story, you'll find that they are really willing and will bend over backwards to, like, give you special permission to go in and take pictures induced up and eso. It's good to know what your story is about before hands that are just showing up like I'm just winging it. I'm gonna figure this out because it will help you get access and get the photos he'd and then finally, I just wanted to show this beautiful I mean, is the scenery There is a so beautiful You're in the middle of nowhere. It's I went straight from Finland to India to shoot for Novica. Let me talk to you. But about having a really good boyfriend like Winston logistically, I was like, How the hell am I gonna pack for, like, arctic weather and then India? And the time is like the holy festival in its degrees and they're throwing colored pigment. It's like chaotic. And I have my gear. How money to do this. So what we did was I organized my flights where I flew through Heathrow Airport in London and the Soffa tell their I like left. I've packed a huge bag for India and a huge bag for Finland with all like my Arctic clothes and stuff. And then I left my India bag, checked in at concierge at the hotel at the airport in London, and then I've made sure that I connected through London Heathrow on both of my trips. So then when I went back through, I switched. I got my India bag. I gave my Finland bagged a Winston, and he brought it back home with him. And then I continue on the India with my India bag. And it was, like, the most amazing, like, like, switch thing that I had to logistically figure that out. Like making out the ship stuff ahead or ship something back because I mean, way have ridiculous outfits. We'd like unicorn ones using like, I mean, we like the most ridiculous stuff that we brought the Finland for photo shoots and stuff. And so, um, we had a legislatively figure out how to do that and how to pack for, You know, I had packed all this orange yellow stuff for India and long flowy outfits and warm weather stuff. Um, and, you know, my photo of year is the same, but everything else had to change, So that was like, I had to say that it was such a crazy story. Okay, so I'm having imposed when you last map DEA, I just showing you, like, different articles I did and how the kind of the headlines are different. So, 10 ways to become a Northern Lights solar storm hunter, the having imposed loves having lists they love like the top five or 10 ways to do this, or like the most amazing voters you've ever seen from this place, like they love. Listen number is because they're all about catchy. And a lot of times don't even rewrite your headline for you if they don't think it's catching enough because people were surfing so much content on the Huffington Post like it has to grab their attention. The headline, um, same thing people wanted to be a little bit more drama like The Northern Lights are fading, you know, like it's too late, but you know, which is not, like, necessarily case they are fading, but it's not like you'll never see them again. But you know, that headline grabs you, and then then you last similar thing, but just written a little differently. So it's like You just have to make sure that when you're writing different stories, similar stories of different publications that you're you are changing it up a little bit and making it slightly different

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Travel Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Art, Life, and Business Discount Code
Writing & SEO Guide for Travel Magazines
Sammy's Photo School Discount Code
Novica Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews


I've been listening for, like, two hours. OMG. Like, I could, like, you know, get more from this if, like, she stopped jibbering and get to, like, you know, the topic? She sounds more like a rambling stream-of-thought teenager than a mature adult giving a succinct organized presentation. In two hours, I have, like, learned about two or three things I can, like, use. Like, Ehhhh...? It's like, bor-ing! Like, whutttt? Is she, like, 15 or what? Sheesh.

a Creativelive Student

I have to start by saying that I was lucky enough to be part of the live audience in this class! What Laura has shared this 2 days, is something that will have taken me a few years to learn. Thank you for remanding me that we create our own opportunities and we have to go for what we want instead of waiting for it to happened and will these tips your share in this class, will make it a lot easier to approach editors or potential clients to be able to conquer my goals! Thanks you very much Laura and Creative Live for making all these possible for the photo community all around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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