Well Travelled with Laura Austin

Laura Austin

A Photographic Recollection

“Curiosity has driven me to want to constantly discover new places and people,” says Los Angeles-based photographer Laura Austin. “No matter how much I end up travelling in my lifetime, I hope that curiosity never fades.”

Laura first landed on Herschel Supply’s radar in 2013, when she submitted a photo essay documenting a road trip through Iceland — a journey that would inspire a major career shift.

“The biggest risk in life is not taking any at all”, she adds. “I completely abandoned the secure nine-to-five life to take a crack at becoming a full-time freelance photographer. Once I dropped everything and committed myself, things started to fall into place. I was fortunate enough to have the wind catch me when I jumped off that cliff.”

Previously, Laura worked as a graphic designer and journalist, which has subsequently complemented her clean, bright and insightful visual storytelling. This has led to a diverse portfolio of client work, but it’s her countless journeys that provide a breath of fresh air, expand her photographic horizons, and inspire others.

Here, Laura shares some of her favorite travel images from the past few years, along with the experiential knowledge she’s gained along the way.

Mojave Desert, California — 2013
Mojave Desert, California — 2013
How does travel inspire you and your work?

It’s easy to take where you live for granted — when the things that make other peoples’ jaws drop become blasé to you. For that reason, in both my personal life and my work, it’s important for me to travel and get out of my comfort zone. That’s when I feel most present and observant of my surroundings.

Anza-Borrego, California — 2015
Joshua Tree, California — 2017
Anza-Borrego, California — 2015 Joshua Tree, California — 2017
What is your favorite part of the journey?

I love first stepping out of a car or plane, looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes. Of course from that point up until I leave is the juicy bit, but I particularly enjoy the plane ride back home. That’s when I reflect on the experience and write any insights or things I learned in my travel journal. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I open up that journal to reignite my curiosity and passion.

“I love first stepping out of a car or plane, looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes.”

What are some of your favorite inspired lines from your travel journal?

Obstacles force us to make choices. The less time you spend trying to figure it all out, the clearer things become. // Contrasts in life are important. You need to sleep under a tree to appreciate a luxury hotel room. // The adventure doesn’t start until something goes wrong. // Happiness is found when you care about things bigger than yourself. // Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Cappadocia, Turkey — 2015
Cappadocia, Turkey — 2015
What does being Well Travelled mean to you?

To me, it doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money flying all over the world, staying in fancy hotels and eating expensive food. My definition of Well Travelled would be someone who has continuously pushed themselves out of their comfort zone — developing an understanding and appreciation for people who live life differently from themselves.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland — 2013
Blue Lagoon, Iceland — 2013
What keeps you driven?

There are times when I feel completely lost and question if I’m going down the right path. But it’s the little clues that let me know I must be doing something right, like emails and comments from people telling me that something I created inspired them in some way — particularly if it’s to travel. I believe that travelling is an incredible vehicle for people to become more open-minded, so the thought of potentially inspiring that keeps me driven.

“Travelling is an incredible vehicle for people to become more open-minded.”

Honolulu, Hawaii — 2013
Honolulu, Hawaii — 2013
Do you prefer spontaneity when travelling, or do you like to have organized plans prior to arrival?

I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when I’m travelling. It’s nice to have a loose idea of things and places you want to see so you at least have something to motivate you to explore. But I also think it’s important to leave room for spontaneity. If you fill up your itinerary too much in advance and try to stick to a strict schedule, you never know what kind of hidden gems and detours you could miss out on.

Interstate 70, Utah — 2015
Interstate 70, Utah — 2015
Out of the places you’ve visited and photographed, which was the most memorable?

My first trip to Iceland in 2013 changed my life. I went there on a two-week vacation with my family and drove the entire circumference of the island. The diversity of the country’s landscapes in short distances is mind blowing. One moment you’ll be driving through a field of black lava rock, and within an hour you’re floating though rolling hills of bubbly vibrant green moss beds. I felt so in my element behind the camera, that once I returned home I quit my job a week later to become a full-time photographer. The rest is history.

Introduction & interview by Frank Daniello

Photographs by Laura Austin

As seen in Issue 10 of The Journal by Herschel Supply.
Complimentary copies of the print edition are available at select global stockists.

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