YouTube and Instagram can be a dangerous time sink. Dangerous to your sense of contentment with a so-called "normal life" — aka going to work during the week, going on a bit of a morning hike on the weekends, grabbing coffee with friends, seeing a band and so on. Dangerous because those two particular platforms have become a massive inspiration to people, photographers or not.
Millions can all experience fear of missing out in unison, and that can't be a good thing. Watching other people do what you're not can be a source of anxiety amongst people, and I'm no stranger to its effects, but knowing that this is a thing, can I justify my own insatiable need for wanderlust?
For a long time I have enjoyed activities like hiking in the mountains, but there are activities which I've always wanted to do that I have let drift on by, knowingly. Fear and anxiety about something I'm not fully prepared for or don't have all the knowledge about has been a major reason why I haven't said "Yes!" to making certain leaps and bounds outside of my comfort zone.
Trekking overseas, especially solo, is one of these activities. But if this is the case, what has YouTube and Instagram done for me that's actually positive beyond inspiring me to yearn for things?
It's shown me in recent weeks and months that I'll never achieve these things I desire without room to fail, room to learn in the deep end and room to accept the rough weather, literally and figuratively.
A lot of my resistance has been all in my head, not my photographic skill level, not my gear requirements nor my financial situation. I have almost everything I need in terms of hiking and photography equipment and I can afford to go.
So I am.
The most positive aspect of seeing other people show how they face these challenges, big or small, in the era of online vlogging (video logging), is that you don't need to be an expert wilderness hiker with all of the knowledge to do it, just a positive attitude, a good set of gear, and a willingness to learn.
Did I Want To Be A Landscape Photographer?
I've never called myself a landscape photographer with any conviction. Most of my own landscape work is opportunistic in nature based around the fact that I love mountains, beaches, hiking at sunrise and... photography. It's why I shoot much of it with a single 35mm lens, because I'm not planning like a landscape photographer would.
But on the other hand, should I focus on landscape photography as a serious facet of my work? I didn't until now, but I do so with a great deal of excitement and said conviction. To be honest, I had a lot of preconceptions about being a deliberate landscape photographer. I felt like my older work was nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, and I definitely didn't want to shoot the kinds of landscapes that I see often. It didn't quite match with my own internal photographic aspirations.
That being said, some recent successes in my own landscape work and a good deal of external inspiration has really helped me to break the mould on those preconceptions, leaving the reality of becoming more invested in being a landscape photographer far more appealing and enriching that I ever thought.
What's On The Horizon?
In late October 2017, I'll be flying to Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand, grabbing a car and hightailing it down to Mount Cook and down past Roys Peak to Queenstown over the course of 3½ days to get my feet wet in New Zealand. It's a been a very long time coming. My aunty and cousins live near Wellington on the north island, my mum has lived there in the past and my dad hiked all around the place in the late 70's.
We all have the mountains in our imaginations, the kinds of mountains that make our country look like a bunch of small bushland hills, so it's no surprise that I have become so in love with them and the idea of seeing the real deal.
To top that, in February 2018 I'll be packing up my hiking and camping gear and heading to Queenstown to hike the 3-day Routeburn Track, followed by a week of galavanting around the south island then a potential stay with my relatives in Featherstone near Wellington. They are hikers too, which is great news for me.
A Mind For Video Production
Something that has also been a long time coming is a new experiment I'm embarking on that ties directly into landscape photography. I don't want to say too much because I have no idea how it will pan out, but I've invested in some lightweight video and audio recording gear and will begin recording footage of the hikes I do that relate to landscape photography and travel as well.
With audio podcasting ("radio") experience alongside a good deal of cinematography, directing and editing skills, I have what it takes to pull it together, so I'm excited for this potentially indefinite project. I do really enjoy teaching photography, and so often I have learnt more about my own techniques and approach by doing this.
This blog has been a lifeline for me to express my thoughts about being a photographer and my own creative process, desires and issues. Now that I've made these simple leaps and booked flights to these locations with the plans I have, I feel like I've shed a long held weight off my shoulders.
For a long while, I have been working through some issues relating to many of my close friends moving away to other countries and cities, groups changing and disbanding and my own aspirations growing in strength especially with what I now am starting to consider my life's work.
To have broken free of my own mind's arbitrary constraints and decided to just do these things by myself and experience travelling and photographing alone in another country feels empowering.