In 2012, Kristin Addis left her job in finance to travel the world. Since then, with only a backpack and camera, the California-native has explored the lush rainforests of Indonesia, the beautifully barren deserts of Namibia, and everything in between.
Hoping to learn more about Kristin’s never-ending journey, we caught up with the professional adventurer and asked her a few questions about photography, equipment, and life.
How has photography impacted your life?
Getting into photography has pushed me to see more sunrises and sunsets, climb higher mountain peaks, and fall in love with the night sky. I’m so grateful for this medium.
What photographers do you look up to?
I like @chrisburkard for his amazing sports photography, especially his surfing shots from Iceland — wow! Additionally, @travisburkephotography and @paulzizkaphoto encourage me to shoot the night sky more, and I am continually inspired by the color schemes present in @taramilktea’s work. Her style sometimes reminds me of Wes Anderson, whom I also admire — but for different reasons!
What camera equipment do you travel with?
I have too much equipment! I usually travel with a Sony a7S, a DJI Mavic pro, and three lenses, though I mostly use my wide-angle lens. I only bring a GoPro and underwater housing for specific adventures.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of choices when it comes to brands, lenses, and types of equipment?
Not really. I pretty much always go with Sony. In fact, I like to say that we’re in a long-term relationship. It has the best sensor in the business. Although I used to have a Nikon, after playing with my friend’s Sony, I was hooked. I think that’s the way to pick a camera: play around with a few before purchasing the one you like best.
How have you learned to navigate drone usage in different countries?
Before traveling anywhere, I look up that area’s specific requirements for flying online, and if I’m not allowed to fly there, I respect that. I’ve also learned to be very careful flying while on boats — the hard way, I might add. I had a terrifying time trying to land a drone in the Canadian Arctic, and have since learned to be more mindful of the conditions I’m flying in.
How has owning a drone changed your photography, and how you see the world in general?
Owning a drone has actually changed my videography more than photography. But it has definitely helped me discover the beauty in underappreciated landscapes as well, like those in Manitoba. It’s funny how a bird’s-eye view changes everything. As far as my photography is concerned, drones have allowed me to capture a much broader view of a place.
How do you set up shots using a remote?
It’s easy! I set the camera on either a tripod or another sturdy surface, open Sony’s PlayMemories app (which comes with any Sony camera), and then do the same on my phone My phone acts as the remote, which allows me to see what I’m photographing. Since I often travel solo, it makes capturing photos of myself in the landscape a breeze!
How do you capture the night sky?
The key to night photography is taking your photo at the right time. I use an app called Star Walk 2, which tells me when the Milky Way is at its brightest. Also, you should be in a place that is completely dark, focus correctly, open your aperture, crank up your ISO, and be very, very patient. I’m almost always out for 30 minutes to an hour before I get the shot just right. But it’s worth it!
What’s your favorite memory related to photography?
My favorite photography memory wasn’t exactly fun at the time. It was the most difficult downhill hike of my life. Most of it was incredibly steep and over loose dirt — it was terrifying. There was one particular spot where I had to use a rope to get down, and as I was climbing, my friend @backpackersteve snapped a photo of me. It wasn’t until after that I appreciated how beautiful it was.
As a photographer, is it hard to simply be in the moment when you’re constantly trying to set up shots?
Sometimes I do put the camera away. But I love photography so much that it’s what I want to be doing. I don’t sit there and worry that I’m taking away from my experience by being behind the camera. It often helps me enjoy the moment even more.
What advice do you have for aspiring travel photographers?
Draw inspiration from others, but don’t let that get in the way of you developing your own style. I love the work of the people I mentioned previously, but I also know that my eye and style is different, and also worth sharing.
Although it can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re getting started, if you love what you’re doing, don’t give up. If it’s truly your means of expression, it’s worth it — whether you have a following or not.
To see more of Kristin’s adventures, follow @bemytravelmuse on Instagram.