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The Importance of Research

Lesson 8 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

The Importance of Research

Lesson 8 from: Becoming a Travel Photographer

Laura Grier

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Lesson Info

8. The Importance of Research


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

The Importance of Research

inspiration and the importance of doing your research. I'm gonna tell you guys a story of a really crazy photo shoot and how I really didn't do a lot of prep on this and it could have turned out really badly, but it didnt thank God, but, um, I wanted always, like itching to do another styled shoot after the Hicksville one because I loved how creative I can get. We'll get into this later on to about styled shoots, but really, anything goes Ana styled Shoot. You have creative freedom to do whatever you want on, and I love that. It's usually I will come up with an idea or concept based on something I want to try. And so the first trend was about vintage right. The second trend that I was frustrated with was I felt like statutes all of a sudden became really popular, right, and everyone's like Do Salcido to start shoot, and everyone was doing kind of like table scape. So it would be like let's put him under pretty flowers on a table and then have a bride next to it and like, well, do style...

d shoot. And there wasn't again a story behind it or there wasn't really It's very vanilla to me and I didn't like that Styled shoots were becoming. The people were asking me all the time to join them on a styled shoot, and I just didn't want to, because it was there wasn't a cool story behind it. So I was doing a conference in Arizona called engaged. I don't know if you guys have heard of it. It's a large conference of luxury destination, wedding vendors and all over. And we were in Arizona and I thought this would be a great opportunity to be surrounded by awesome vendors and be able to get them involved in, like, another hair brained idea of mine. Uh, and that idea was born from looking at this photograph. One day is my vision. So I was just a lot of times my ideas come from either like seeing an image online or something where I'm like, I must go with their or it or it was born out of like, an adventure or some obscure place that I've heard about that I've never been or like a Blackwater rafting or like I don't know what here's something and be like I have to create a photo shoot around going there, right? So this is a petrify. Googled him like, Where is this place? What is that? And it's a petrified sand dune, Um, like out in the middle of the Utah Arizona wilderness called the Wave. It's actually called coyote buttes, and it used to be the bottom of the ocean like millions of years ago. Now it's like petrified sand, and it says it's like it can be all these different colors, depending on what time of day. And I saw this and I have to do shoot here. And so I This is where the my screw up began. I was like, How big could Arizona be? I was like, I'm going Arizona December. This is an Arizona I like awesome. We'll get everyone involved. So I started attaching peat digging, really excited and attaching people to this location and idea and timeframe without, like, researching like the weather Or like, how far is this from our conference in Arizona? It was like an eight hour drive. Um, and all of this kind of happened later on. So I googled this location. I found out it was Coyote Butte. I Googled Coyote Butte and they're such a They want to preserve this area of the wilderness, and so they make it very difficult to get out there. You have to apply, like, nine months in advance for a permit to hike on a very specific day out to this place. And the hike is like 3.5 hours in. I didn't know because I just like Avi Hike. How hard can it be? Like I didn't like research? How long hike was I just saw that you needed a permit. And so I made it for the day after our gala. Like after the conference and I signed up nine months in advance, I thought I was being like, really on it like I'm doing planning the nine months in advance and getting people attached. And so I got the permit. They mail me a couple months later, like I got accepted. I could bring a certain amount of people, and on this day, and they sent me a wilderness map. And the wilder and snap literally was like a bunch of photos with like GPS coordinates. And it was like when you walk to this place. You line up your map, Teoh, wherever the next picture is, and when you look at the picture and then you walk in that direction. So you get to the literally That's what this map they sent me was. It is like a scavenger hunt. So I like this is gonna be fun and we, like, plan all this stuff. So now I'm like, OK, about the location. I've got the permit now. I was like, I really want to get the concept that have to have a story. So my story idea was I wanted to showcase. Then what happened was I wanted I envisioned somebody with, like, a hot pink dress in here. That was the thing is the next one together. So my concept was I wanted to do something crazy with, like, a pink veil in a pink dress and just like in the space. So based on that, I thought, How can I turn this into a story? Okay, Like, why does the wedding dress have to be white? Like, why can't it be pink? And then I thought, Well, you know what? I showcase all these different artists in the in the wedding industry that are doing really kind of out of the box stuff because over the months I've always I always seem to attract early out of the box people, just through my photography, and people would reach out like crazy hair and makeup person. Or who does these like Styrofoam pieces that she creates? And then I, this dress designer that makes corsets for weddings and bridal bridesmaids out of clay like they're all, um, just handmade shaped. And, of course, it's just based on, like Oklahoma City. And then there's a dress designer that makes dresses out of recycled wedding justice. Are found objects. She also made a dress for the shoot made out of the pages of trashy romance novels. It's like this to to Dress, and I mean, I found all these cool vendors as I started putting idea out there and like, Let's do a wearable art shoot like let's just make it where we're showcasing different, insanely awesome are like where we aren't within the wedding industry. So that became my concept, and it was all based of like, I want to put a pink dress in the middle of his wilderness, like so Here we are now. I've got the concept. I spent months reaching out to these vendors, getting them attached, having them ship out stuff to me. And I'm like collecting all this stuff. And some of these pieces air super couture like like the dress made out of paper. You can't crush it. And I'm like, Oh, my God, I can't fly to Arizona for this conference. And with all that, what was I thinking? I've got all these justice and props and, like, models and assistants and I mean, I got the whole team together. Everyone's like, Yeah, and I didn't think it'll just six at all. So I had a rent. I called the glam band. I like hashtag glam band. But it was he was like a church fan home. It fit like 14 people would, like, rip out the back seat just to fit in some of the dresses and stuff. And I'm like, this will be fun. Guys, we're gonna road trip out to the conference at all this stuff, and then we'll drive to the location afterwards and do the shoot. So I don't rent the ban and it was just amazing like this stuff that was coming in and the people that wanted to be a part of it. It was so amazing, Like the influx of people want to be part of it. But again, I'm asking people to donate and ship things up. But I can't ask them to pay for things that are donating their time for free. And it was like that whole situation again. I didn't kick do a Kickstarter on this one, but it costs money of the rented van and you have to make sure there's food and all the stuff. So, um, the challenge is the challenges as I'm talking about so transportation and putting it all together like sometimes it's having a visual story or concept isn't enough. You have to be logistical and, like sometimes having someone help you with that is really important because I learned my lesson on this shoot big time. So we had a friend meeting us and I entrusted in him. He was like my assistant. Can you buy food for this hike? Right, so we've got all the clothes and everything we need to do, but can you just buy the food, water and supplies will meet you there. Here is the place we're gonna meet up at this time and like, got the map and we're good, right? So I finally Google like it's like a week before, and I Google kind of need to get, like, the directions to go to this wilderness place. Eight hour drive. And I was like, How am I gonna convince all these people? And plus, the gala for the conference was the night before. Everyone's like drinking and dancing till three o'clock in the morning. And we, you know, that's a wilderness we have to hike out. I didn't know it was three hours. We don't take out three hours, and that means three hours back with six hours, and then it's also December rate. So it's the sun sets at, what, four. And, um, I didn't I didn't figure it all out, and all the sudden I'm like, Oh my gosh! And I'm here the rented van and all this stuff and were literally chasing the sun. We have, like, make it out alive and do the shoot. So that means we need to start hiking at Lake like it clocking morning like we need like a house to happen. Maybe nine. So straight from the gala on no sleep. I rounded everyone up happening. We were a little inebriated and like, throw them in the van. And I'm like, OK, you guys sleep in the back of an eye since I screwed this up like I'm gonna be one that drives through the night to this location. Then we're gonna go out and hike, So I'm like, no sleep. I am driving out eight hours. It was beautiful, I will say, because I got to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon on the drive and, like, I was like, Okay, fine. This is pretty cool. But, um, so I'm driving through there, and as I'm driving, the landscape starts changing, and I start seeing snow on the ground, and I'm like, what? You know, And, um, all of a sudden, as we get there, it's full blizzard like full blizzard, and I'm And as I'm driving, they're all sleeping in the back like they have no idea. And so I was like, What? I'm gonna do what we're gonna do. So we finally get there and everyone wakes up and they look around and the whole place is covered in snow. And I was like, Are you guys team huddle? We gotta figure out like, are we gonna do this or not Like, this is the one day we can hike in. We applied nine months. We've got all this stuff like, should we go for it? And, um and they're like, Yeah, let's do it. So our friend shows up, he's must have all the food supplies he literally bought, like some granola bars and some water and like Chex Mix. And I was like, Okay, we're about to go into 3.5 hour hike in the wilderness And when I was googling it because I was like, How long is this hike anyway? And I google it there, like three bars. And so then they're like people die here from exposure all the time. I think I told people that died that year by getting lost and like, not finding their way out. And so I'm like, this is this is a disaster like what's highly? So I had, like, 40 yards of hot pink tulle and like outfits in my camera gear and like one bottle of water incidents like this, the whole thing was turning into a disaster. Um, but it became like a whole adventure. So we're like, we're gonna photograph, we're gonna photograph, like, the whole epic odyssey to get out there. And then here's where the next challenge. But that wasn't bad enough. So then I have my my trusty wilderness map. Cell phones don't work out there because we're, like, in the middle of nowhere. So if we, like, needed to call for help were like, there's no way. And then I look at the wilderness map and remember, I told you have to like Like, we line up with pictures where everything is now covered in snow and doesn't look like anything in the picture is right. So we're like, um okay, and that's what we started. Like looking for footprints in the snow over, like maybe they mainly, with the right way, we should probably really lining up the map so that this whole shoot was kind of turning into a disaster. But we were really determined to do it. So I'm gonna show you a behind the scenes video, and I'm kind of like talk over as we go on explain the first part of the shoot. We did, um, in an area that wasn't covered in snow and in the last part was where it turns into the snow part. So all right, that's by the way. This is the dress that's made out of trashy pages of romance novels. It was pretty cool. Okay, so here we are doing a shoot in the behind the scenes video. We basically want to show all the different art pieces. And we wanted to show that's the course it made out of clay. We wanted to showcase the photography and is the cool Model e sort of fragrance ad look to the video, and I just had my assistant shoot video clips as I'm shooting like she would just step in for a second and shoot. It was really done. There was not, like a video career anything. She would just come in and do a cool shot, and then I would continue shooting. This dress was made out of like burned fabric tourney up fabric, and we just found all these really cool vendors in the wedding industry. This person we decided you like a Jackson Pollock theme like throwing pigment, but it was really more about the hairstyles here. The hair stylist does these crazy styrofoam pieces and she build hair around it Does these insane styles Eso we thought we'll just do a fund like throwing pigment in the desert for this one. I think I just secretly I want to add color somehow. So this was my idea That literally just adding color. Um, here we go. This is a three hour hike. Oh, yeah, by the way, was 30 degrees blizzard and I was not prepared. So this is like the trail that we started following, just hoping that it went threat way. And then there were times. See, that's what it looks. And then everything is basically covered in snow. And we're trying to line up the pictures to where was the walk? And you see footprints going in like, lots of different directions. So you're kind of like I don't go, But we were hiking and is documenting it. And it became this full odyssey adventure, and it was sort of like the the adventure of even getting there. And the art of it was part of the whole shoot best. Who was the model? She's also amazing floral designer, and she believes it's sort of like a hippie floral designer. She believes in using found plants and trees and things to create stuff. So she does these flower crowns and stuff. She was like picking plants and driftwood and stuff like that much of food. But you know, like tumbleweed and things like that to create crowns and pieces. And so we were kind of just creating art out of the environment while we were there. So we did the shoot. She's for reason, by the way. And we're like trying to, like, get this whole thing done because that whole shot for that was just to get my colored veil in that location and then we had to hike back. And so who this is? Oh, this is another corn to this designer does his neck pieces. It's almost like Star Trek ask out of pearls and things for weddings was pretty amazing. This is another that same designer that burns fabric. And, uh, we did some, like stop motion or, uh, I'm blanking on the minute long time lapse. Thank you. And this is a dress made out of found metal objects. And for me, I always love including color. So it was all black and white and I was wanted color. So I had early beating a rock with with flowers, like whatever it is for me, I'm always adding a pop of color so that shoot like we finally got out there and we did it. We're filming it. But then it got really scary on the way back because, you know, we had to find our way back and we were like chasing in the sun said, And like, people die from exposure out there. We didn't have the right clothing on like I literally had, like, three layers of leggings and like, we're not prepared at all. And in this video, basically, I'm showcasing that like I re screwed up bad. I screwed up bad on the shoot like it didn't plan it at all, and, um and so I just wish that I had I think there's so many things I could have done better, and that ended up having an awesome outcome. I love the photos from it, and everyone had fun and, like, no one died. And that was awesome. But, you know, I really learned a lot from that shoot of, you know, I can't make those mistakes like they won't always go that well. So like checking the weather and researching locations and reviews on places. And, like just the logistics is so important on a shoot before getting excited on the concept in the story and getting everyone attached to it like figure out the logistics first, and that's really important. So that and that goes so much with travel photography, too, because a lot of times, you know, there is a political climate that you're walking into on, and I'm a woman, and sometimes you know, there's scary terrorism stuff. I was just in needs the day before the attacks happened recently on my way back, and you just don't know what's happening, And you should just always have, like a Plan B in case something doesn't happen, right Or, you know, for me I bring like a scarf or something, cause sometimes it's inappropriate to show my arms and places that I'm traveling. Teoh are like you just have to. It's so important to do your research like or else you can get yourself second a jam. So that was what that was. My challenge and listen, there

Class Materials

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Travel Gear List

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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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