TJ Drysdale and Victoria Yore are a model/photography duo and the couple behind the travel blog and photo project Followmeaway.com. They are on a mission to redefine what it means to be travel photographers and strive to inspire others to step outside of the box and try something new. While they thoroughly enjoy traditional travel/landscape photography, they hope their project encourages other photographers or people interested in the medium to pick up their camera and get out there and shoot. Just because you aren’t a “travel photographer” by trade doesn’t mean you can’t take what you know and apply it on the road.
Tell us about Follow Me Away. What was the inspiration for creating this project?
We took our first Trip together in June 2015 and then created our Follow Me Away Instagram in August 2015. After that, we launched our travel blog in February 2016 to chronicle our journey of working and traveling together. We were inspired to create this project because, although we have both worked with other talented models/photographers, our work together always had a unique twist we couldn’t quite, and still can’t, put a finger on. We were always interested to see how we could be the same photographer [TJ] and the same model [Victoria], sometimes even the same wardrobe, yet create a wide range of photos with a diverse look and feel.
Why did you choose to meld travel and portraiture together?
For us, it was only natural! We have always loved doing things differently so why not take our “at home” shooting style on the road with us? We love traditional landscape and travel photography that features a location or a human standing in one, but decided to put our own unique touch on travel photography by inserting a girl in a long dress instead of a person in simple hiking gear.
Where are some of the destinations you’ve been to and what ultimately makes you decide where to shoot?
In the past 5 months, we have shot in 13 different countries including Hungary, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, and Luxembourg. Our decision process when picking a place to shoot involves checking off a lot of boxes in a very short amount of time and we even wrote a handy blog post about our location-choosing process! Usually, we decide if we should/should not shoot at a location in a matter of minutes. The bottom line? The shoot location in question has to be epic!!
What excites you both about travel?
We totally love that travel allows us to learn about different cultures and experience unique landscapes different than our own. We appreciate the fact that we are able to immerse ourselves in societies that thrive in different ways than ours and it really allows us to be more open to change and more honest with ourselves. In addition, the fact that you can hop on a mode of transportation and be somewhere completely different in a matter of hours is always exciting and something we look forward to.
What are some of your favorite locations you’ve shot in and why?
1) Iceland’s Solheimasandur Airplane Wreck
We are from Florida so we are no strangers to beaches. However, an airplane wreck on a black sand beach is a totally different story! Iceland’s famous Solheimasandur wreck was one of the most fantastically epic things we have ever seen. Although we completed the entire photoshoot in under 4 minutes, it produced one of our favorite images to date. We would love to head back and actually spend more time appreciating this unique location.
2) The French Alps/Vanoise National Park
Nestled in the French Alps near a town called Modane is Vanoise National Park. Off the side of the road, there is a waterfall with the most beautiful and perfect lighting conditions we have ever seen. In fact, this location has such a special place in our hearts that we actually circled back around, paid a $45 border toll, and shot the same exact place almost a year later! We don’t know what it is about this waterfall in Vanoise National Park, but it has provided us with magical lighting two trips in a row.
3) Ireland as a whole
We are sorry but Ireland is just so spectacular and unique that we can’t just choose one Irish location as a favorite. We have shot in lesser known locations such as Howth [twice!] and the Bunbeg Beach shipwreck to world-famous destinations such as the Cliffs of Moher and Northern Ireland’s Dunluce Castle. While Iceland was a land all it’s own, Ireland truly holds our hearts when it comes to being a photographer’s playground. Plus, we don’t think enough photographers actually take the time out to explore Ireland off-the-beaten path. Guys and gals…..go to Ireland..you won’t be sorry!
4) North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway
The span of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, North Carolina is gorgeous, especially in the fall. We can spend an entire day driving and getting out of the car and never travel more than 20 miles in either direction because there is just so much to see! We have even had fantastic luck just pulling off the side of the road and shooting in the mystical foggy fields that abound on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Another favorite: Linville Falls!
When shooting, what types of things do you need to keep in mind in terms of location, lighting, styling, posing, composition etc.
One of the most important things for us is to keep the shoot as natural as possible. We always look for beautiful natural light and a location that moves us. Our shoots are very free flowing and posing is kept to an absolute minimum. We prefer to shoot fluid movement and we let the setting speak for itself and guide us.
How many shots do you do in each location, do you try to focus on one killer shot per destination?
No, we don’t try to focus on just one shot per destination. Depending on the time and the weather conditions, on average, we usually end up shooting between 300-500 RAW images. If we have all the time in the world and the weather is warm and cooperative, we will most likely end up with 7-10 completed images. If we are pressed for time because the weather is inclement or the sun is setting, we may only edit 3-5 out of that bunch. If we deem a location extraordinary, we may end up with a collection of 15+ finished edits. We prefer to shoot a ton and choose later because you never know what you might catch!
What type of gear did you use to capture the photos?
We just use a Sony A99 and any available light. The majority of our photos are shot with either a 50mm or a 70-200mm lens. Many people think we have a huge set up involved when all we really take is a camera body and a few lens choices!
When on location and shooting, do you have a specific narrative in mind?
Our photos never have a specific narrative as we prefer to let our viewers come up with that on their own. We go with the flow and shoot as much as possible. Our shoots are very spontaneous and come to life extremely quickly. For example, we may be hiking, see an epic location, and we will be changed/geared up and ready to shoot in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, we even hike in our gear/dress to make shooting the next stellar location that much easier!
For Follow Me Away, we want our photos to be the optimum blend between viewer-decided story and landscape. We do not want the subject to overpower the location but instead, want her to add to it. In our opinion, a fantastic travel photo showcases a destination or landscape, instills a sense of wanderlust in the viewer, and encourages the viewer to get excited about travel and nature.
After coming back from a trip, what do you use to edit?
TJ here! I use Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS6 for post processing our photos. Thankfully, we travel with a laptop so I am often able to do our initial photo cull while still on the road. Narrowing down 400 eligible photos to 20 “likes” is half the battle!
Post processing is done in Adobe Photoshop using a variety of methods to produce unique color tones. For example, I use the elliptical marquee tool to enhance various aspects of our photographs. This tool can be easily over-looked but I have found it very helpful in producing our signature “glow” effect. Learn more about these lesser-known techniques in my Photoshop tutorial here.
Do you have any tips for people looking to get into fine art travel photography?
If you are interested in our style of fine art travel photography, we would urge you to take your camera and your subject [or yourself if you are doing self-portraits] and head outside to see what you can capture. Do some light research if you want to see what a location will look like, but let the rest surprise you. Leave your flashes at home and work with what Mother Nature has to offer. Consider depth-of-field and pay attention to where the sun is hitting your subject and the landscape. Keep in mind that this isn’t about either the landscape or the subject…it is about both! Do your best to meld the two styles together so that you don’t focus on just one or the other. We always want to be able to see our landscape and our model and don’t want one to overpower the other. For a more in-depth look at how to become a fine art travel photographer, head over to our website and check out this post.