“The most important advice I can give is to truly love what you do. Whatever it is that you do, if you don’t love it, you will eventually burn out. It’s also important to continue to experiment, learn new things and push the boundaries. I try to continue to get more creative as my career progresses. This is necessary in order to keep your audience engaged.”
I had the pleasure to interview , travel and lifestyle photographer and Instagram star, Witness, who has amassed almost 700,000 followers with his mesmerizing images that he shoots as he travels the world. Witness is the passion project born from the admiration of photography and travel to be shared with the world and has grown to become one of the most popular accounts on the app. With photography and social media strategy that is self-taught, Witness is establishing his presence as one of Instagram’s most viral and rapidly growing destination photography accounts and has formed an intimate bond with his followers through: virality, scheduled meetups, Live Q&A Sessions and more. Witness has a collaboration with Visit Aruba, the tourism authority of the island. He is being brought there in two weeks to showcase all of the different things that you can do in Aruba and show tourists that it can be a retreat much like islands in the Indian Ocean. He will be covering everything from hidden beaches to shipwrecks, to the sand dunes and all of the various activities.
I actually went to school for music but have always had a passion for photography and I really love to travel and experience new things. One day I just decided to make an instagram page for my photography and began to post my work. Shortly after creating my page, one of my photos was reposted by an instagram page with over 11 million followers and I started to gain a ton of followers! That was when I realized I should take this a bit more seriously and started to recognize the opportunity at hand.
Last year, I was in Santa Monica, California and posted to my Instagram story that I was taking photos of the sunset on the beach right by the pier. About twenty minutes later I was approached by a 13 year old kid & his mother. They lived in the area and her son, who was an aspiring photographer, saw my Instagram story and asked his mom if they could come to the beach to meet me. We spent some time taking pictures and talking about photography & instagram. This was a really special moment because it was the first time someone had gone out of their way to come meet me.
This story illustrates the unique power of social media where people from all over the world can come together and create a community around common interests and aspirations.
When I first started working with drones, I went to the beach and tried to capture video of the sun setting through the waves. That day, I learned that I wasn’t the best drone pilot. It ended up crashing into the water and unfortunately was never recovered.
I like to think that I stand out because I work really hard to make a connection with my audience and use my platform for positivity. I also constantly try to give back to my followers when I can! For example, about two months ago I just decided to give away my camera to one of my followers which was a Canon 6D and a few lenses as well. This was the camera I got started with and I felt like I should give it away rather than sell it.
The most important advice I can give is to truly love what you do. Whatever it is that you do, if you don’t love it, you will eventually burn out. It’s also important to continue to experiment, learn new things and push the boundaries. I try to continue to get more creative as my career progresses. This is necessary in order to keep your audience engaged.
There hasn’t been one specific person to help me get to this point that I am at currently. I do attribute a lot of my growth to my followers themselves though! They are constantly sharing my posts, tagging their friends in my comments, & that all really helps in getting my page more exposure.
I’m really excited about my first YouTube video which I will be releasing really soon.
We are lucky to live in a world where there is so much knowledge at our fingertips. When I decided to build a travel photography Instagram account, I did a lot of research, mostly on YouTube, and that is where I learned a lot of what I know now!
Aspiring travel photographers are always asking me how they can get started and how they might build a social media following. So on my YouTube channel I intend to share what I have learned and hopefully help them get started as well.
I try to use my platform to inspire people to follow their passions. Many of my followers are aspiring photographers, or at a minimum interested in the topic. I always try to encourage them to follow their passion and to let them know that with commitment and hard work, they can achieve anything & I am proof of it.
1) Take the time to understand the essence of the place you are photographing.
One of my favorite examples of this would be a picture that I took of the market in old Dubai where you could see the traditions, scents and flavors of the local fair.
2) Think about Perspective
While sitting under a palm tree, you take a photo with the midday sunlight filtering through the leaves. Perhaps later, from a distance, you take the same palm tree swaying in the breeze with the sun setting low on the horizon. Same tree, two very different perspectives each picture conveying its own unique story.
3) Experiment, step outside of your comfort zone!
Some of your best work will come from experimentation. One of my favorites was a picture I took while on the Manhattan Bridge overlooking New York City when I first began to experiment with long exposure photography.
4) Always be prepared to shoot!
While driving in New Jersey last fall, I saw the most incredible sunset. It looked as if the treetops were set on fire with the bright orange flames of the setting sun reaching for the deep blue of the afternoon sky. I grabbed my camera and took the shot from the middle of the road.
5) Most importantly, shoot everyday!
The best way to get better at photography is to constantly shoot & hone your craft! This will help you figure out what you enjoy shooting and one of the only guaranteed ways to improve!
As I travel around I am struck by how unique and beautiful each place is but also by how similar we all are. We all share the same struggles and triumphs, hopes and aspirations.
I would love to start a movement to somehow show people, through pictures, how much we all have in common. We are all one in the same.
Everyone can find me on my instagram which is @witness & my twitter account is @witnessphotos!
Originally published at medium.com