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The Adventure Workshop

Lesson 9 of 36

Trip Planning & Location Scouting

Alex Strohl

The Adventure Workshop

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

9. Trip Planning & Location Scouting

Lesson Info

Trip Planning & Location Scouting

(ethereal music) (camera shutter clicks) Maps, maps, maps, maps. So what does this tell me? This is a topo map of the East Coast of Greenland and the area of Tasiilaq and Kulusuk. So I was planning to go on a trip there, and I wanted to know what the place is. I wanted to go hiking and potentially biking, so. With places that have very few information, like Greenland, this was really a blessing, because sure, I can look at satellite photos of it. But before I do that, I wanna see how the ground is. What are the features of the landscape? So I can clearly see here that there's a massive glacier here. And I can see that there's a bunch of little islands and lakes, and I think that's super helpful and inspiring for me because, for example, I'm gonna land in Kulusuk, just because it's on an island here, and then thanks to the map, so for me this is really inspiring. Like I'm not gonna base everything from this, but just seeing these shapes and how many islands there is and how many ice t...

here is, I just can't even wait to get there, just by looking at this. So try to get a map if you can. Well, for places that are remote, looking at proper maps is way better than Google Maps because they don't have everything on Google Maps. The places that are well traveled, Google Map's the best. But for places that are a bit more niche, like this part of Greenland, a map 100% because it has all the little towns that Google doesn't really know about. And I can know where we can refuel a boat, for example, where I can grab gear, where can we drop somebody off, or we can just stay for the night there. I'm not on a computer with a little screen. I'm interacting with this piece of paper. And it's a little old school, but for me it's super inspiring just to look at this, get the big picture. This is all I get. (ethereal music) Now that I've done all the offline research on the map, I'm ready to go onto the computer to do some more Internet research, Google Maps, Google Earth, and anything, really, that Google will give me, I'll take. Usually, for me, photos inspire me to go somewhere, and if I've seen a photo from that place, I'm gonna stop and think about what I wanna do there. So I'm gonna give you an example. A few weeks ago, I went to Iceland. So when I knew I was gonna go to the Eastfjords of Iceland I started to think what is it that I wanna do, and what is it that sums up the place. So the Eastfjords, I didn't know much about it, but before I started doing any research I was like, all right, there's fjords, so ocean, mountains. I wanna kayak. There's peaks over the fjord where you can get up to quite easily, so I wanna hike. And lastly, I know that Iceland has a ton of hot springs, so I knew I want to photograph these. So that's my initial process. After doing that, I at least have a game plan. It doesn't mean it's gonna happen like that. It might change, it's always changing. You gotta be flexible, but I knew it's what I wanted to do. And then once I have a lay of the land, I'm gonna jump on satellite views to see what's the most aggressive fjord I can find, the most impressive one. And then continue the research, so I'll show you that first. (ethereal music) Iceland. So first thing I do is I pop the map on satellite. Pretty straightforward. Then I wanna narrow down to where the Eastfjords are, so I learned that from the topo map that it's really, this area here, it kind of stops here in Hofn. So, can see I already had saved some stars. I knew that I wanted to check some of these parts, so this is, so I knew I wanted to see these spots. This is an impressive beach, black sand beach, with peak mountains in the back. So that was a must-see, Stokksnes peninsula. And I've seen it everywhere online anyways so not a secret, really. Then, going up to the Eastfjords, I found these fjords here. I'm not gonna try to pronounce the name, but I know that, oh yeah, this is the bird-watching house. So actually, I found this place reading somebody's blog. This girl, I forgot the name, had a blog, and I saw a photo of the bird-watching house, which is somewhere on this beach, and I thought it was super cool because I could picture myself being here and looking at this mountain range here on the right and this mountain here on the left, so that was must-see as well. So what we did was pretty simple. We drove all the way to Aegisgardur, and we knew that this was the bulk we wanted to see because of this fjord is super narrow, this one doesn't even have a village on it, just a small town here, but it has a mountain pass here, and we knew we'd get good views of the whole fjord if the weather was good, which is another story. And we knew we wanted to see this fjord as well because of the height of the mountains here above town. And we knew we could, and I found out that we can actually hike out of this high pass here. Here's the tunnel, but you can start hiking here. You can see the kind of the path, and you can get up there. And even seeing at the whole map, like, it's pretty clear that this is what I wanted to see because that's where most of the fjords are. And now we came down to where we could find a kayak, because it's not all too straightforward, and also where we could have the best chance at having hiking trails that were accessible and kind of ready to hit. (ethereal music) Knowing somebody who's on location is so important for me. This summer I went on a holiday to the Westfjords, and I wasn't working, pressure was kinda minimal. I was just there to chill and to have a good time so what I did was pretty different than usual. I didn't do any research at all. Just took a plane, rented a car, and drove towards the Westfjords. It may sound a little dumb, investing time and money and just don't have any plan. But first, it's the way I wanna do it when I'm on vacation, I don't wanna know too much about the place before I head there. And also I knew that Her-gerd, who lives up there, was around. And I knew he could give me some good tips. That's why I kind of kicked it that way. So I met Her-gerd in this little village here called Isafjordur. So it's almost at the end of the Westfjords. Here is a huge natural reserve. And Her-gerd is a guide. He has this boat company up there, and he just knows the place. So I just met up with Her-gerd, and I just ask him, what should I do? I didn't steer him in any direction. I just kept it super open for him, just what should I do? And he knew some of my work, I knew his work, so I knew it was pretty safe that he was gonna tell me good things. So then Her-gerd went on to tell me about this lighthouse that his brother bought by accident. And that place is not on the Internet, it's not on a map. It's just nowhere. It's just Her-gerd's brother lighthouse. So he told me how to get there. There isn't really a trail so I had to scramble up and ended up finding it. So I had to drive all the way here. I can't zoom exactly where it is because Her-gerd would kill me, but as you drive here, then take this mountain road all the way here, and then walk. Started walking from here, and then got to the lighthouse after three hours of sweating and just had dinner there. And I was just by myself. I didn't see anybody on the trail, and it was the peak of summer in Iceland. And it just worked out perfectly. So when the pressure's on, it's a commercial project, I wanna be prepared to the best I can, because we have a limited amount of time. Client is investing resources on us, and I wanna do the best work I can. So I'm gonna be prepared as much as I can. And sometimes it doesn't work the way I want. The weather's bad, things fall apart, and then you have to redo the whole trip on location. But at least you did your best, and you can feel good. So really, the bottom line is you can be prepared as much as you want, but you can't underestimate how important it is to have somebody on the ground who knows a place. So try to make friends with the locals before you head there or when you get there. It'll just make your work so different. (ethereal music) So how do you find locals before you even get there? Well, I'm gonna use Instagram most of the time. I'm gonna look at geotags, hashtag, who's there on that geotag, who's making cool pictures, or who's just telling a cool story. And I'm just gonna send them a message, like, hey, I'm coming your way. Can I just buy you some coffee? And I'm always amazed about how many people reply and are ready to take me up. And sometimes I might reach out to three or four different locals at the same time because I know that people are busy and I don't get a 100% reply ratio, so just hustle. What if you just got there, and you still haven't met a local? Well, I used to go to hostels a lot, and you meet a ton of people there. Now I hang out at coffee shops and whoever I see that looks approachable or has like this interesting feature about themselves, I'm gonna go talk to them. Hey, I like your beanie. Hey, I like your jacket. It's all genuine, but it's a good way to just open up with people there. Also, when I'm going out hiking, I might stop people out and be like, oh, you from here? Where you going? You know, what should we see? There's just like fun ways to interact with people and people just wanna share their place, so just try it. Let's say I'm going somewhere super remote, where it's impossible to connect with locals before 'cause there's not much access to Internet, there isn't much online, and it's hard to get a map from where you are. Well, that's the example with Peru. We went to Peru two years ago, and we went to hike this trek, the Huayhuash range. So there was a little bit of information online, but not a ton, and I was shooting for Canon, so I didn't have a lot of time to play around. So what I did is I just hired a local mountain guide. I just looked up for the mountain guide association. There was about 50 of them, and there was all the little photos. And I just picked up the most interesting one based on his face. I didn't have anything else to choose from, and his cellphone was at the bottom. So I just give him a call, and we just talked for a while, and he was like, yeah, I'll help you out, take you places, and it worked out super well. So it's important to follow your instinct. Just I liked this guy's face, I knew I would connect well, and it worked out. So it's important to give, also, your business to the local guides or people there because some countries really need it, like Peru, for example. And for us, he wasn't very expensive, but for them it meant a big difference. When you're going to some countries that are still developing themselves, it's important to give your business to the local economy. And for us it meant hiring a local guide. He made everything so much better for us, and it wasn't that much money for us. And for him, it meant the world. So be generous with them. Don't try to negotiate them unless it sounds crazy, but usually you can get few quotes from different guides and you get an idea of the ballpark price. What our local guide delivered in Peru is that he took us to some spots that are not on any map or anywhere. And he had special access to everything because he knew the communities there, and they play a big part in the Andes of where you can sleep, where you can walk through. So he just arranged everything for us, and we didn't have to think about it. We were just there to shoot photos. We shot our photos. We had a good time and just went back, and we kind of both were happy. It's like a win-win. One last thing about locations is that yes, it's important to do the things that a place is designed to do. So if it's the ocean, it makes sense to kayak. But sometimes I like to be playful and try dumb ideas. Like when we went to Alaska, there was this glacial lake we saw from the helicopter, and I was just like, we need to come kayak this lake. And the pilot was like, why would you do that? I was like well, it's gonna be a cool story, it's gonna look cool. And he's like, okay, okay. We did it, and then this is the images we got. They're pretty unique because it's not something people immediately think about, so be playful, and try dumb ideas. (ethereal music)

Class Description

Alex Strohl brings his Adventure Photography Workshop to CreativeLive to explain his approach to photography, editing and the sometimes overwhelming but super important business side of things. In this workshop- Alex takes you on a journey through his shooting process, developing your own style, editing your images and then strategies to get yourself noticed and grow your career.

You’ll learn:

  • Basics of camera techniques and making memorable images
  • Developing your own workflow and style
  • Getting noticed and working with brands
  • Taking action to accelerate your career

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David Corrochano

There's a lot of useful information on how to start up your bussiness or your carreer as a photographer. Great advices, he shows his personal workflow, from the beggining of a shooting till the end. That was what I was looking for. The editing process maybe could be reduced in only one chapter. Worth it.