Exciting things have been happening in the Travelshoot office recently. One of which is welcoming the newest member to the Travelshoot team - in-house photographer and talent lead Claire Young.
It's fair to say that when we first stumbled upon Claire's photography and travel website the team were blown away by her amazing photography skills and also her love for travel - two things that now make her indispensable to the Travelshoot team. Since coming on board, Claire has turned around how we recruit new photographers, and the level of quality and experienced photographers is now at an amazing stage that we know we can trust all the photographers on our network to do a great job both in terms of photography and customer experience.
Claire is now a fundamental part of our team here at Travelshoot, and we'd love to introduce her to you properly. So here's what happened when we spent a few minutes picking her brain about all things photography and travel.
When did you realise you wanted to become a photographer?
When I was a confused fifteen year old. I’ve always loved the arts but I was never very good at them. One evening I discovered an online community of girls who were of similar age to me and were creating incredible photographs. That night I researched cameras and the next day I rang around all the second hand camera stores in my hometown until I found one in my price range (which wasn’t much!). I fell in love from the very first picture, which was most likely of my dog or a flower in our backyard.
How long have you been a professional photographer for?
It’s hard to pinpoint a date when you stop being amateur and graduate to professional. I photographed my first fashion campaign for a small local designer at eighteen, I travelled to a top music festival with a media pass that year also, my first solo wedding was at nineteen, at twenty I was studying a course at RMIT and at twenty-one I photographed New York Fashion Week. There were lots of small milestones, but making an income solely from photography is difficult. I would say I’ve been in the field professionally for about six years.
When did you start your own photography business and what was your motivation behind doing so?
I didn’t plan to have my own business in the beginning. I was just a teenager who had finally found a way to express herself. It was when people starting appreciating my images and asking me to photograph for them, that I began to consider that this passion could become a career. My school wasn’t supportive. We were encouraged to go to university and get a ‘real job’. So that’s what I did my first year out of high school. I worked at a local insurance agency and after that a bank. I was so miserable but I never stopped taking pictures. It was only after I had a visit from my Mum and she told me that I should do something that makes me happy. From that day I quit my job and put every ounce of myself into becoming a photographer.
What is your role here at Travelshoot? And when did you start working with us?
At Travelshoot I am the Resident Photographer and Talent lead. I started working here in March 2016. My job is to find photographers all over the world who create beautiful images that fit with the Travelshoot style and ask them if they would like to work with us. So basically I spend my days being inspired by beautiful images and chatting with photographers. I am also the Travelshoot photographer for Melbourne! A dream job or what?!
You love to travel. Where is your favourite place to shoot in the world? Is this also your favourite city in the world?
That’s a tough one.. I really loved photographing a model in Paris, parts of that city are so beautiful. My favourite ‘city’ in the world would be a toss up between the islands of Croatia, small towns on the coast of Italy, or lush Ubud in Bali.
What keeps you passionate about photography?
It’s hard to pinpoint what it is about photography that enchants me. I love every small part of it. From dreaming up a concept, to experimenting with composition, to capturing colours and playing with light. I love waiting while my cards download, selecting the shots that evoke something within, and transforming an image through editing.
What’s your favourite kind of photography job? Weddings, fashion, events or something else?
I know most photographers have a favourite subject or style of photography. In the beginning for me it was fashion, but I quickly realised I wasn’t so interested in the clothes, but capturing the person in the clothes. It was about telling a story, capturing emotion and creating something beautiful. Now I love portraiture of all forms. Fashion fulfills my creative side but Weddings and couple sessions fulfill me emotionally. I also really love photographing everyday life. I almost never leave the house without my camera.
Have you got any funny anecdotes to share with us that happened during one of your shoots?
More so in the beginning when I was reckless and spontaneous! Things are a lot more planned now. Once when we snuck into an abandoned mental institution through an open gate, we were caught by security and I knew the fine was a lot of money. Luckily I had a gorgeous model with me, the guard was quickly smitten and showed us a hole in the fence where we could sneak out of when we were finished!
One time I drove all the way to a shoot still wearing my slippers… Or the time I was shooting at the salt lakes and I wanted the model to stand on the solid crystallised lake. So I stepped first to test if the ground was stable and ended up knee deep in black goo!
Tell us about the bigger picture. Where do you see your own photography business in 5 years time? Or where would you like it to be?
This might sound a little odd.. but I am really happy with where my business is right now (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that!). I used to get caught up in trying to be the best and when could I consider myself ‘successful’. Now I’ve learnt that my key to happiness is a balance between shooting for work and shooting for love. I no longer aspire to be a top fashion photographer or the busiest wedding photographer in the industry. I just want to make enough money to live simply and comfortably while getting to do what I love everyday. I hope I always have a steady amount of wedding bookings because I really enjoy documenting love! And one day I would like to teach photography to kids.
Do you have any advice for people who are considering starting their own photography business?
Do something towards your passion everyday. It could be learning a new skill, answering emails, updating a blog/social media, adding something to your website, planning a shoot, walking the streets of your city with your camera. Photography is an extremely competitive industry and you have to have the passion, drive and determination to make it.
You also have a travel blog. How do you find time keeping up with blogging as well as working for Travelshoot and doing your own photography jobs?
I’m in the midst of learning that balance right now! March was a very busy month for me. I started here at Travelshoot, photographed 5 weddings across two states and tried to keep up with telling my travel stories on my blog. I am now the queen of lists and I’ve learnt to love waking up before 7am. I’m making a workspace at home and I bought a weekly planner to stick on the wall! It’s all about prioritising.
Do you have any advice for people who are considering starting their own travel blog? Or for people who need some encouragement to continue with their blog?
Write for yourself, your mum, your best friend, for the people who love you because they will always be interested in what you have to say. Don’t be discouraged in the beginning when it appears that no one is reading along.
I think of my blog like my diary. I love to go back over past stories, photographs and experiences. When I write honest content, people really relate and it starts a conversation. There are thousands of bloggers out there writing what they think people want to hear, so why not create something different? A blog is like a home, it’s your place to say absolutely anything you want to.
What’s your dream travel destination?
I’ve been to 25 countries so far and some were definitely a dream! But on my ‘must-see-next’ list are: India, South America and Nepal.
Name your must have travel accessory.
Would it be a cliché to say my camera? Other than that, it would be my shawl. Several girls recommended to invest in a sarong/shawl before I embarked on my year of travel. It’s so versatile! An impromptu blanket on transport, a way to dress up the same boring outfit, it provides unexpected warmth and can be used to cover when visiting temples.
What’s your favourite leisure activity whilst your travelling/on holiday? It could be something mellow like lying on the beach, or something more active like rock climbing.
Getting up at sunrise to walk the streets of a foreign city with my camera. In Italy you will see old ladies lowering baskets from their windows to buy bread from street sellers below. In Istanbul while shop owners are opening their stores they feed the local street cats lovingly. In Bali you will find a morning market filled with local people buying their supplies, clothes and offerings for the day.
What’s your favourite travel app?
Rome2Rio! It’s a great app for finding out how to get from A to B. It sorts each transit option by cost and often you will find a local bus or train that is really cheap. I love slow travel by road; it shows you so much of a new country you wouldn’t have seen from the plane.
Check out Claire's awesome photography and travel website here: Claire Alice Young