travel

'I'm a travel photographer. These are the questions I get asked constantly.'

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Thanks to our brand partner, BOOST LAB

Being a travel photographer basically seems like the dream job.     

But we have questions.

We want to know what it's ACTUALLY like; everything from the lifestyle and the labour that goes on behind the lens. Is it as idyllic as the Mamamia team are imagining? How do you even begin (asking for a friend)? What's it like only having a lens in between you and a massive elephant?

Mamamia caught up with Western Australian travel photographer, Rachel Claire (she's the ultimate slashie too: she also does work in documentaries, conservation and journalism) to chat about her photography career and the questions she's constantly asked on the job, about the job.

We were SO intrigued. Here's what she said.

So how does a career in travel photography even kick off?

Rachel, the creative behind FieldNotes, says she began dabbling in travel photography through an unconventional route. 

“I studied film and television at University, so I sort of fell into photography in quite a non-linear sort of way. 

“I ended up moving to London to work as a fashion photographer in my early twenties, but came to really dislike it. I didn’t last very long at all there, and ended up returning to Australia feeling pretty heartbroken by my experience in London.

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“It wasn’t until I went travelling later that same year that I ended up sort of falling a little bit in love with travel photography and I found my passion for it.

“I really liked the idea of not having a permanent base. I loved travelling, I was a traveller before I was a photographer, I loved capturing moments, taking photos of my friends, and I think that working as travel photographer has meant that every day is so different. It’s a constant challenge.

What would surprise people to know about travel photography?

“Everyone has this perception of travel photography as being this really incredible, fun, high-pace and exciting thing. And it absolutely is, I love it. But it does come with exhaustion, a lot of very, very long days, really coming to terms with the fact that you’re not really able to sit and enjoy a holiday, you’re always switched on cause there’s always a client to work for.”

With the pace and exhaustion, how do you look after yourself?

“I’m trying to get much better at looking after myself when I’m on the road and when I’m working. One of the things I really need to do more of is hydrate myself. I’m a bit of a culprit for forgetting to drink lots of water on the road, which obviously isn't great on my body and my skin especially.”

Rachel said routine is key to her mental health and confidence, and an increasingly big part of this is her skincare routine. 

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She's a proud ambassador of beauty brand BOOST LAB, and Rachel swears by their serums especially when on the road. 

Often working outdoors, and often even in extreme weather conditions, so the benefits of highly potent BOOST LAB serums give her targeted results to her skin concerns from being in the sun, dry skin, anti-ageing and uneven skin tone.

"Plus with the BOOST LAB serum bottles being a great size, they’re really handy when packing into my luggage so easily, as I need to pack as light as I can." 

Her number one favourite product? Their 2D-Hyaluronic Hydro Boost Serum.

“That serum is SO helpful to me as it gives me deep hydration and keeps my skin looking and feeling plump and moisturised.

“What I love about this product is I can use it in conjunction with my moisturiser and it provides an extra layer of hydration for my skin.”

“The Retinol Night Renewal serum is another serum I’ve been using religiously. That goes really well in conjunction with the Hydro Boost serum. 

"As I’m in the sun a lot, I'm wearing sunscreen everyday, as well as these daily serums to revitalise my skin with hydration and also targeting those fine lines and signs of ageing.” 

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By using BOOST LAB's gold standard ingredients including soothing Aloe Vera, the Retinol Night Renewal serum is excellent for dry skin concerns, as well as using retinoids to combat pigmentation, which Rachel said is another natural side-effect of her chosen career.

“I wish I had started wearing sunscreen a lot earlier, but what I love about the Night Renewal serum is that it does actually work to reduce the skin damage done by the sun’s UV. So in trying to look after myself while I'm travelling and work, this fits in perfectly to my routine and gives my skin a bit of a supercharged boost.”

What's been one of the most incredible photography projects you've worked on?

“My favourite assignment that I’ve ever worked on was just before COVID hit. I was sent to Africa with a conservation fund, and I got to see a lot of how they train their recruits to work as anti-poaching rangers. 

"I got to go into the reserves and sleep out with the animals. It was a pretty wild and rugged experience, and it was a pretty life-changing experience for me because it definitely steered my photography and my career more in a conservation direction. 

"One of my favourite photos from that shoot and that assignment was a photo I took of an Elephant bull. He’s just staring right down the barrel of the camera. Chills."

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Does inspiration or motivation ever waver with such creative work?

“I’m really inspired these days by change makers and people who are working really hard to change the world.” 

With experiences under her belt like the trip to Africa, Rachel adds, “A lot of my inspiration comes from people who are actively campaigning for the world. Advocating for climate change. It’s those people that I really draw inspiration from because they’re the ones who really make me appreciate and respect and love the natural environment that I get to work in a photograph on a daily basis. I'll always draw my motivation from there."

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What's the biggest trait you need to be a travel photographer?

“I think flexibility is a big one, so be willing to be as flexible as you can stretch.

“I think the biggest thing too that I’ve learnt of the years is just learning how to be confident in yourself, the shots you call and trusting yourself in the decisions you make to get the best outcomes you can that day, that shoot and in those conditions.”

Has there been an experience where you thought: "I need to be a bit fearless here."

“There’s heaps of moments I’ve tested myself for shoots.

“The biggest one for me was climbing via ferrata in Canada, stocked up with camera gear on the side of a mountain. That was a really incredible experience but definitely was tough in terms of juggling equipment. It’s literally mountain climbing, where I'm harnessed to a cabled path, holding thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment to get the shot."

Yep, that’s pretty fearless.

Feature image: Instagram/@fieldnotes__

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