"Failure is a learning experience, a chance to review objectively and course-correct, it isn’t a full stop."
You may know Erin and Jackson as the travel creators of the IG account @thewaytowherever, or the couple duo behind Lens and Lumen. We've had the honour to work with Erin and Jackson for our latest campaign shoot, where they delivered the most amazing content which has beautifully captured the essence of our rituals.
Hi Erin and Jackson, can you share with us more about your background?
Hey! We’re Erin & Jackson, and we’re from Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia! Travel, photography and video creation has been our day-to-day life since we packed up and moved overseas together for the first time in 2019. Since then we’ve invested thousands of hours into learning everything we can about photography and how to create art that truly speaks louder than words.
Between productions and commercial engagements with innovative brands and businesses from across the globe, we travel the world and share our experiences, human stories and of course as much photo and video art as we can from some of our planet's most known and unknown corners!
What led you to the life of travel creators and photographers that a lot of us can only dream about?
Knowing our passion, and running full-speed down that path! We’ve been travelling full-time (with a small C19 motivated break) since 2019. We know that there’s no other way for us to live our lives that would bring us an even remotely similar human experience. The more we travelled the more we realised that, and as a by-product of the age we live in, we’re able to share our experience and connect with people on a pretty personal level from our audience on Instagram and beyond.
We both love emotive art, from music and sound to still imagery and everything in between, expressing and experiencing feeling is the fabric that connects everyone on this planet. It’s above race, language and religion and we both feel drawn to creating like a magnets pull inside us!
From natural landscapes we saw on TV as kids to photojournalism from not-so-touristy locations around the world, our biggest seeds of inspiration come from photography and videography, and we’ve channelled that into the art we create and put out into the world, which has led us to invest countless hours into honing our craft behind the camera and building two businesses from a passion.
How many countries have you travelled to so far? If you had to pick one, which would be your favourite?
Together we’ve travelled to 14 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, and honestly that is only a fraction of the worlds 195-ish nations. We make a very conscious effort during our travels to spend as long as we reasonably can in each country and culture, trying as hard as we can to get close to the feeling of what life is like for the people who come from vastly contrasting parts of our planet.
If we had to pick a favourite… So hard! There are so many different criteria for how we’d choose a ‘favourite’ country! For our personal connection we’d have to pick our home, Australia, for landscapes that feel like their separate from the rest of Earth, Iceland, for a single country with so much tolerant diversity between indigenous culture, language and history, Indonesia. Morocco gets an honourable mention with an incredible ‘personality’ unlike anywhere else we’ve been.
What role do you believe storytelling plays in travel photography/content creation? How do you aim to evoke emotions and connect with your audience through your visual storytelling?
Storytelling is the ingredient, process and result, all in one! Life is a story, for every person who has, and ever will live on this planet, and everyone has their own, unique story. Despite that, their are so many barriers for people from across the world to experience those stories, whether those are the result of an inability to travel, language barriers or just not knowing what lies beyond the walls of our day-to-day lives we can accidentally find ourselves confined to, we want to bridge those gaps.
While we document our travels and adventures, sharing wherever our journey takes us, we aim to channel as many stories of people, place and the natural world, evoking emotion with our own unique combination of personal experience and the impact of others around us through photo and video.
From valleys carved by some of the worlds largest glaciers, the most diverse marine dependent nations, to the almost-uninhabitable Sahara desert, there are so many stories to be told and personal, emotional connections to be made through sharing and experiencing visual media, together between Erin & I, and the tens of thousands of people who experience our art with us.
That said, if we’re talking about ourselves and creators that we’d arbitrarily bundle into the kind of art we produce, style of travel and channels we share through, the biggest single misconception is that it’s just a big holiday.
While we can’t understate or downplay the privilege that accompanies particularly international travel, and everything that comes with a career like ours, we’ve never worked longer hours without breaks, invested as much time and money into projects that may or may not pay off, or gone longer periods without making a cent, in our lives!
How do you stay motivated and inspired as a travel creator/photographer? Do you have any rituals that help you maintain your creative energy and passion for your work?
Like any creative, this is a constantly evolving rollercoaster for us. As we grow as people, our tastes are always changing and the input around us that sparks inspiration is always shifting, any creative individual will tell you that keeping motivated can be a serious challenge!
For me, it’s a new or changed environment. I’m no expert, but I’m willing to bet there’s some science out there that says a change in environment is the biggest catalyst for mental reset. For better or worse, whenever I’m in a creative slump, or completing the next creativity-related work task feels like trying to open a triple-deadlocked door made from 15cm thick titanium that’s been welded to the frame and concreted in, I’ll grab my laptop and head somewhere new. Usually that’s a new cafe, but sometimes its just a different room, or even a change of clothes can have an impact!
A bit more personally, sometimes I can get so caught up in my own head especially when I start to doubt what I’m creating or the photos/videos I’ve captured, and my go-to in those moments is to just disconnect from the task, and put on a podcast (specifically ‘Know Thyself’ by Andre Duqum or ‘The Photographer Mindset’ by Seth Macey & Aaron Mannes) or go be present outside in the fresh air for a while.
Another great way to stay motivated is looking at the work of artists, photographers & directors of photography that really inspire me.
What motivated the both of you to start Lens + Lumen?
It originated from a desire to diversify the art we were creating, and give back in another way by using our skills to bring to life the visions of innovators and businesses. Being based between Bali, Indonesia and Australia opens a lot of creative doors when we chat with clients about how exactly they want their products presented through their marketing media, whether that’s scroll-stopping social media content, captivating website banners, or bespoke product packaging!
It doubles as a fantastic creative outlet for us, letting us bring creative ideas to the table (or in front of the camera), for things that wouldn’t suit our personal channels and probably never see the light of day otherwise. The best side-effect of that is all the other creative individuals we get to meet and develop ideas with! From start-up owners with a ‘crazy idea’ to hair & makeup artists and shoot assistants, it’s some of the most fun, collaborative work we’ve ever done and we can’t wait to see how the business grows alongside our channels for ‘The Way To Wherever’!
Could you describe the process you went through to create content for SLOW RITUALS? How did you feel about this project?
If any other photographers or creative agencies are reading this, in the least subtle way, Vivian and the SLOW RITUALS team are some of the BEST people we’ve ever worked with! Like pretty much any project in life, communication is the single most critical factor to making sure a process runs smoothly and the result is even better than what anyone was expecting, and we couldn’t have asked for more!
The project started with a zoom chat getting to understand the products, who they were for, and key points that were core to the marketing objectives of the brand. Thanks to Vivian’s exceptionally prepared slides covering all of the above and more, we had a great starting point to begin conceptualising the shoot and how we would set SLOW RITUALS apart from competitors with photo and video media.
The initial mood boards and model profiles we discussed with the team set a clear expectation and understanding of the direction of the shoot, and the style and mood the final results would create for customers viewing it across the brands marketing channels. With a clear vision from the team and despite Vivian on the trip of a lifetime in Europe, together we nailed down the final vision boards for the shoot and began to put the pieces in place!
While finding the perfect location and the ideal face of the brand is a time-consuming and complex mission, the rewards are unparalleled when reviewing the content shot over the course of shoot-day.
Honestly we could not have been happier with the content when reviewing post-shoot, we had to send Vivian a sneak peek as we scrolled through the thousands of images and videos we’d captured of SLOW RITUALS beautiful products with the incredible talent we selected for the project! Looking back at the content we produced for SLOW RITUALS, we can honestly say it’s some of our most proud work, and there’s no feeling quite like seeing it presented as banners and across a clients website and social media marketing.
Lastly, any words of advice or insights for aspiring travel creators/photographers who are looking to start their own journeys in this field?
For us, there are two super critical parts to this. Firstly, if you’re wanting to start moving towards that world, take that first step! It’s the hardest one, and it will always look different for every individual, but whether it’s starting to post travel content from locations around home, or learning so that you’re not so intimidated by camera settings, whatever it is, just do it. You’ll probably fail at a few things at first, and as a result you’ll learn an abundance!
The second, when you’re experiencing those failures, things aren’t working, clients aren’t happy, your gear's not good enough, your followers “don’t care”, do not quit! We know how much easier it is said than done, but the only one that doesn’t make it to the top of their mountain is the one that quits. There are countless examples of individuals, artists, creatives, business owners, that have failed over and over before becoming experts in their field, failure is a learning experience, a chance to review objectively and course-correct, it isn’t a full stop.
Bonus third thought because I can’t help myself, invest in yourself. Mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, but most importantly with time. Whether that’s taking courses (there are free ones out there too), crawling through YouTube or going to workshops, your skills will grow faster than you could imagine and you’ll find yourself in environments and the presence of others that nurture the side of you that wants to flourish in that direction.
We’re passionate about this, if you’re reading this and you feel like you’re an aspiring travel creator, photographer, filmmaker, blogger, food journalist or anything in between with obstacles or lack of direction, send us a DM or an email via our website, thewaytowherever.com, and we can chat about it!
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