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How to Start Going Where You Want to Go

Lesson 38 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

How to Start Going Where You Want to Go

Lesson 38 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

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Lesson Info

38. How to Start Going Where You Want to Go


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

How to Start Going Where You Want to Go

Let's go to evoking an emotional response. This image. I love this image. I had been already bitten by the black widow spider when I shot this image without realizing it. One of the coolest things about going on the Buffalo round up in South Dakota was I honestly got, like, a really amazing appreciation for the United States. And like our our our Wild West, I had never really experienced the Wild West. And the cool thing about the Buffalo round up was that, you know, you had to be like these Cowboys all auditioned from all over the Midwest to be a lucky cowboy that gets to run out into the national parks and round up the buffalo. Every year they round up these wild buffalo and just into the parks, and then they, like, immunized them and make sure that they're okay and they call the herds. And so all these lucky cowboys get to do, and they're like legit real life cowboys. And so then 12 lucky Photojournalist gets a ride along behind them in pick up trucks like off roading and following ...

them with, like herds of buffalo stampeding around you, and you're photographing it so it was a really amazing experience, and it was hard to put into words like what it was like the beaches, like holding on for dear life, trying to take pictures and like these huge animals air running past you And you just felt like you're back in time. You could almost imagine what it looked like, you know, hundreds of years ago in the US, when these animals roomed free by the thousands. So for me, I want I love taking imagery and having a story behind it and doing all these things that I talked about this whole course to evoke an emotional response like I usually want it taken image that makes you want to jump into it and go there. I think a lot of that is my color and the vibrancy. But I think like this image has has been used so many times, and it just gives you that feeling of being in the Wild West and being there. And I love it, and I want to be ableto evoke. Use the power of being a photographer to doom or in the same or and so we do have that power to tell very amazing and powerful and important and relevant stories. We can do that with their photos. We can do that with our words. We can do that with all these things that are annoying, like social media and stuff, that we feel like art like tours. And it's like a full time job to do it. But you can also look at it as you know, it's pretty exciting, like we're in a world where, like right now, thousands of people are watching me. I've never had an audience, is big, like we have the ability to connect with people all over the world instantly and show them our work like That's awesome And I think Venice is getting really overwhelmed by you should just think about like how cool it is to have an audience and to get your stuff out there. And and so I want you to think about yourself as a very powerful tool in a brand that can really reach a lot of people and invoke an emotional response with what you're doing with your work. So this image I shot was like when I had to go find the oldest living Mayan descendant with Novica and interview her, and she issued as weavings. I wanted to have an image that really spoke Teoh that told the story that she's like this really old lady and that she's, you know, this indigenous lady. And I felt like this image really spoke to that, because, I mean, obviously you can tell he's got some old feet and, like near the woman blankets up. And it's just it's just an image that you can that you can reuse. And you were talking earlier about shooting in a way to allow text and stuff like that. Don't ask that question, I asked. If you purposely shoot lows, you can add text to the upper left. Or maybe it's gonna be a cover page, so you have to shoot a certain way. So that question, because all of my slides, he's like, Wow, do you shoot really low cause all your you know, you have a lot of these really big skies. I'm like, Why am short? I don't really know what he was talking about, but I did pick certain images that was easy to put for my slides, to put words over, but that's a really good point that you brought up because when I shoot for Novica, they actually and for publications, magazines, they'll ask me to shoot what they call it Banner and a banner is a very long, um, kind of skinny horizontal image that has a lot of room and dead space on one side or the other for text. Ah, lot of companies when they want to use a shot for advertising, they want to have a lot of dead space on one side so they can use that as an advertisement for text. So if you want your images to be more marketable for someone to buy it as an advertisement or for a brand to use it, think about it like it takes two seconds. Take your photo. Moved to the right at dead space at Dead Space over here. Just take a couple different versions of it and have that offer because a lot of times I've lost out on getting a cover photo in a magazine because I shoot a lot of horizontal images and I don't even think about shooting it vertically, and you can't really use it on a magazine unless it's vertical. So just doesn't hurt just to get a few different directions. Shoot that shot vertically, shooting horizontally. Shoot it wide ads and dead space Think, think like a magazine when you're shooting so but I wanted to bring up. That question is, I thought that was a really good question. So using the power you have is a photographer to do more. I want to empower all of you guys to do that because I feel powerful. I want to use my tools in my craft to doom or T. Have a more global audience Teoh to speak about more important topics. To get more awareness to some of these vanishing cultures, Teoh spread beauty in a time where people were released, freaked out about traveling and really down on the rest of the world. I want to show that there is a lot of beauty out there, and so, like user power as a photographer in your voice, it's it's very powerful. So the whole purpose of this talk is to live the life that you want to lead. And so for me, I've been a firm believer that my whole life I feel like I live it every day. I feel like I'm always finding ways creative ways to just do things that I ordinarily would just want to dio Go hiked that mountain. I'm gonna create a shoot around and make a media buzz about it. Let's do it. You know there's There's always a way to make yourself, like to be able to create a job on what you want to do and make money at it, so sometimes you won't get offered in the money to go and do the trip. But I can write about it and make money. And there's all these different ways that I can leverage going on that adventure to make money or, you know, sometimes you're not. But you just would be paying a lot of money to go on that trip if you're going to see your saving money by doing that, and it just depends on what you're doing higher doing. But I'm determined to travel. I'm going to do it no matter what. It's a huge passion of mine, and so I'm always going to find a creative way to make that happen literally. The whole reason I do have these shoots is because of the adventure of doing it honestly. So I want to end by telling you guys a little bit of my beginning story and how I started. It was a crazy story. I'm not telling everybody to, like, go live out of your car and do what I do is a crazy story and how I started and how I feel like the theme of being creative and find a way to make things happen. It's sort of been a a thread throughout my life. And, you know, I graduated from Syracuse University and I worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and I worked for National Geographic, and at the time I was 21 years old. I graduated. I owned, had no money, I didn't own a camera. I didn't know where to begin. I don't know how to start a business, and I was pretty much not making my parents happy by leaving the East Coast and not taking this job that was waiting for me in D. C. I'm just packing up my car and driving out. West had no plan. I've never been in California and I had, you know, I pretty much told my parents I had an internship, but I kind of lied about it because I didn't want to think that I was crazy. Really Giving up this job is really good job and just packing up in having new plan. So I packed up my car and everything I owned at the time. Everything I owned fit in my little rock for and that was depressing in itself being able to do that. And then I jumped in my car and this is pre cell phone, by the way. So like, I was 21 have a cell phone. I think I was using, like Tripoli maps to get across the U. S or something, and I just kind of went to Tripoli and mapped out and got maps and everything. And I made it as far as Nashville before I ran out of gas and realized I had no money for gas. And so I had Teoh upon my violin and at a pawnshop in Nashville, Teoh make gas money to make it the Los Angeles. I played in a chamber orchestra for years, and and so that was literally the only valuable thing I ever owned, and other than my car and I was like, What the heck am I doing? And so I upon my violin and I made it out to California. And then I remember sitting down on the beach and being like, what now? And so I decided, Well, I'm gonna have to get a part in your job or something, like I have to earn money. I don't even have a camera. I can't just start taking pictures. So I made up a bar resume and I went around to the bars on the sunset. Strip it like on a Saturday night and I begged someone, hire me and they like, flipped a quaint And I said, like, tails never fails and I won the coin toss and they're like, You start on Tuesday at 11 a.m. And I'm like, Who goes to a bar? And Tuesday, 11 8 and that's the worst thing ever. So I was living out of my car and I was going to the nearby gym and paying for day passes and, like showering there and working out, huh? And then I would go to work. As in my first day on the job, my first customers, Cuba Gooding Jr years. It was so L a and I sat there for, like, three hours is just like him, me in a bar back. And we're just, like, telling stories. And And I was like, This is really surreal. And we had a great conversation. The next customer that came in were these two guys and they were like, Get us drunk. We're gonna go to this meeting and they're like, What's your story, Mike? That's a loaded question. I'm like, Well, I'm not sure I'm a photographer. I sold my violin to make it out here and living on my car and I'm serving. You drink. So I don't really know. That's my story right there. Like what? You would be perfect for this reality show that we're casting God. You know, my father warned me about people like you, and I'm like, I don't know, like I'm just got here to L. A. I'm not gonna get sucked in all that. They came back later that night while I was still working and brought the executive producer whose name was also Laura and was like, this is the girl were telling you about this crazy story. You got it rare, and they're like. Well, are you okay with going on a pirate ship for a month around the Caribbean for eight single guys and eight single girls on a show called Love Cruz? And I'm like, Yeah, sure, I'll do that. I'm single and I'll do it. And I have no homes like, OK, well, like the premises. Like the final remaining couple in $250,000 unlimited travel for one whole year on one airline, which I was like, Are you kidding? I didn't win. By the way, that would have been amazing. So I was like, Yeah, pack my bags. Let's go. So eight guys and seven other girls myself flew to Granada, were picked up in sentence, separate hotels. We were sent to a pirate ship and we load up with all these cameras everywhere. And every week, one guy, one girl got voted often had a walk off a plank into the ocean and go to Loser Island, which is Aruba. Okay, so this is like I what? And we had signed all these and on disclosure, So I wasn't allowed to talk about it or tell my parents or anyone that I was going on this trip. So it was like like my parents thought I just died or like, like, dropped out 50 earth like I moved to l. A. And like, five days later, I just appeared there. What happened to Laura? So here I am. What happened? Laura? She's are walking off a planning on a pirate ship in the Caribbean. That's what Laura is doing, right? So I was one of my day. I do the show. It was It was really fun. It was only messed up at the same time. They edited everything all crazy and I get back. But they paid me $5000 which at the time was like a lot of money to me. So that's how I got my first apartment. I actually had a home when I got back, that was really exciting and that had new furniture, actually went to Ross and begged them to give me hangers to hang up my clothes from my luggage. And I would save and re used silverware from Wendy's, and I had a box as my dining room table. I got a roommate to help me out and like way we were living like that My mom's like, Oh, you have an apartment. I want to come out and visit. I'm like, No, no, I can't. Yeah, you know. So I was like, sleeping on the floor. I think the first thing I bought when I was bartending was like a mattress, So I mean, was getting there. And so I still had no money to buy a camera to start my job. Here. I have a Ford four year technical degree in photojournalism like amazing photojournalists have come out of the school. And I'm, like, reusing When do you silverware and like, how do I start? So I was bartending again and I would just meet people I would meet, um, aspiring actresses and models that were all bartending with me. It's Los Angeles on and asked him to do styled shoots with me and I would find cool locations, and I would just set up these really crazy shoots and just try to build up my portfolio. Ultimately, I wanted to just be practicing my craft. I didn't want to lose it. I don't want to feel like I wasn't a photographer and that I was a bartender. And if there's anything wrong with being a bartender, but I really wanted to stay on path, you know, not just do 12 reality shows. And so one day, talk about serendipity. I'm at the bar bartending, and they have those bar games at the end of the bar. And I was like, playing it and was Wheel of Fortune. And so I was, Yeah, I would be so amazing on the show if I like My dad and I used to watch Wheel of Fortune together at night and we would like, bet on who would guess the puzzle first. So I'm playing it on like, This is amazing. I totally kick out. If I was on this show and the guy that I was serving drinks to kind of like laughed and he paid his bill on left the bar, and when I opened up his bill, you left his business card and he was the executive producer world origin, and I was like waas. So I ended up emailing him, he said, actually tickets an invitation to be on the show. And so I went on the show and end up winning like, $7000. And that's how I bought my first digital camera and like that was my l a story of, like, how I started my photography business. And the funny thing is Lee, as their serendipity involved course do I tell you guys, please quit your jobs. Don't take the job and live out of your car. And, like, hope you get on a game show to be a really don't do that. What Every. Please don't do that. But, um, for me, I think ultimately when I look back at me scraping by and like barely having meals and being sort of a starving artist, I was still sort of doing what I'm doing now. I was like figuring out a way to do it and yet still travel and still work with people and still create and still be a photographer and have and do all these things that I love, too. Dio and meet people and talk to them and just get myself out there, no matter how it Waas and and And I loved it, and that led into working for. Then I got my camera and I was able to start second shooting for people on really getting myself out there and I started working in a photo studio and got into weddings and and the rest is history. And but you have to start somewhere. You know, you have Teoh keep on creating and you have to get out there. And if you want to shoot somewhere than you need that sometimes put things on a credit card and make it happen. And go on that trip so you can build up your portfolio and, most importantly, build up your confidence in yourself that you're that you're able to do it. Because I think what slowed me down for so long was that I didn't have the confidence. I didn't feel like I belonged in a certain echelon of travel photographers or wedding photographers or whatever I was doing. I was always like, Oh, I'm not good enough And and you just have to get rid of that and just do it. Sometimes you literally just have to go do it and just start saying that that's what you're doing and then you're doing it. So that's the message. I wanted to leave you guys with my crazy story and tell you that I hope you guys got I'm sure you got a lot of information and I see a lot of note taking out there as well. I hope you got a lot of things in the last two days that will help you with your own journeys. I hope you find your adventures and help you shape your ideas in your future photo projects and maybe creating new, exciting things. And I want you to apply this and do something awesome on your own. Like I want to see all of you guys and your crazy like pictures and stories that you're doing moving forwards, hoping you'll share those with me. But yeah, I just want to end that with that and give you guys all the ways to follow me on my adventures. We've talked about all but my instagram, my Snapchat, Facebook websites e mail me. If you have questions, we'll get on a Skype call. Everyone I like get some advice. Whatever it is, I'd love to help you guys out

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!!!

Student Work