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Lauren Bath - Australia's First Professional Instagrammer

Lauren Bath - Australia's First Professional Instagrammer

Vagabond Photographic Creative Guide Kat Nielsen interview with the first Aussie professionally recognised Instagrammer. 

Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?

Well, I’m a 37-year-old ex-chef currently working as a full-time travel photographer and “Instagrammer”. It’s a long story as to how I got here but basically, I’ve been using Instagram for over 8 years and saw the potential to utilise my following to get a foot in the door in the tourism industry. I was labelled Australia’s first professional Instagrammer by national media in 2013 and have worked on over 200 travel-based campaigns over the past 5 and a half years of full-time work.

My business has expanded and changed a lot over the years and I now run big campaigns, have my own conference (The Travel Bootcamp), do a lot of public speaking, have an online course (Get Camera Confident) and next year I’ll be running my first photography tours. (To Zimbabwe) . It’s been a crazy and scary ride but I love the unpredictability of my life and the challenges of running my own business.

When did you first start your photography journey?
I’ve always loved taking photos, but it wasn't until I downloaded Instagram in August 2011 that I ever thought about creative photography. I was only shooting on an iPhone 4 at the time, but I loved going out to try and nab an image I could post on Instagram.
From there I bought my first camera and continued to learn and improve, taking my Instagram followers along for the ride.



How would you describe your photography style?
My style is very authentic and true to life. I’m a travel photographer so I cover all sorts of genres, but I don’t like to heavily research my trips and I don’t do any manipulations in photoshop. I approach every job or personal shoot the same way, to capture what I see in front of me. My work is colourful and happy and landscape heavy. My favourite type of photography is wildlife.



What kind of equipment do you use?
I’m actually an Olympus ambassador! I started making the switch from Nikon to Olympus a few years ago due to the weight of the Nikon camera and lenses with all my travels. I was having a lot of problems with my back! Luckily for me I was introduced to the Marketing Manager of Olympus and at the start of this year became an official “Visionary”. My kit therefore consists of 2-3 Olympus E-M1 Mark II’s (depending on whether I’m doing any video or underwater photography) plus a full suite of Olympus PRO lenses.

My preferred tripod is a Gitzo, I use Lee Filters for landscape photography and my favourite camera bag is my F-Stop BC Tilopa. Once I find a brand that I love I’m very loyal.

Do you have a favourite lens and Why?
My favourite lens is the Olympus 40-150 f 2.8 PRO lens but I probably use the 12-40 f2.8 lens more often as it’s more versatile.

What are you go to settings?
I generally start most shoots in aperture priority with a low ISO and choose my aperture based on my depth of field requirements. Depending on the scene I’ll usually switch over to manual (especially for landscape photography or where the light isn’t changing much). Most landscapes I shoot at f11 and a lot of the wildlife images I shoot would be at f 2.8 or f4.



You became the first professional Instagrammer? How has social media changed the photography industry do you think?
Social media has changed the landscape dramatically, and not always for the best. I’ve been very aware of the existing industry ever since I started working in tourism and tried my hardest not to step on any toes. I see what I do as a completely different job to commercial photography and I price myself differently, and deliver differently, to commercial photographers. I never wanted to undercut anyone, and I’ve been very open about my work in the media, to my peers and at industry events. I would advise anyone that wants to be an influencer to do their research and ask around for advice from others. We can and should all be supporting each other.



You have recently launched an online photography course? What drove you to provide this?
To be honest I was just sick to death of hearing people tell me that they had done a photography course that was really confusing. So many photographers out there completely forget how difficult and intimidating it can be to master the very basics and they assume this level of knowledge that most beginners simply don’t have. I wanted to offer my style of teaching to the masses so that it would be affordable, fun and interesting to learn photography. Not terrifying. haha

Can you tell me about your travel photography boot camp?
The Travel Bootcamp is my conference that I run with two business partners; Georgia Rickard is a travel writer and Liz Carlson is a travel blogger. A few years ago I met Georgia at a conference and she said to me “Wouldn't it be amazing if we could band together with a blogger and teach people how to do what we do?” and I completely agreed. There isn’t really any genuine resource like this that teaches people how to honestly break into the industry and we teach it from three perspectives.

My reason for doing the conference is to give my peers the skills to compete professionally in the industry. I want people to do an amazing job, I want the influencer industry to grow and thrive for all of us. It’s an incredible day for all our delegates and my personal favourite day too. People can’t believe how generous we are with our knowledge and it gives me all the feels.

As a travel photographer, what do you take with you as essentials?
Obviously, my camera bag and gear but also an iPhone and a spare iPhone, a computer and a tablet for editing and I’ve just started working with Western Digital to promote their new My Passport Wireless SSD so I’m phasing out hard drives! My workflow just gets easier and easier.



What time of the day do you prefer to shoot?
Sunrise is my favourite time of the day to shoot and I try to be in position thirty minutes before the sun is due to come up. Sunset would be a close second.



What methods do you use for editing? Can you explain your current workflow??
I am a Photoshop girl. I back all my RAW images up onto at least two drives, which I keep separately and then I sort out what I’d like to edit. Each shot is processed in Camera Raw and Photoshop but I only spend a few minutes on each picture. I edit in a few different sizes and upload everything to Dropbox to retrieve and post on my various social media platforms.

Among all your work what is your most memorable capture?
Definitely my “Wild Horses” shot, taken in the Kimberley a few years ago. It was a combination of luck, timing and the exact right settings. You don’t get a shot like that every day!



How do you educate yourself to have become a better photographer?
Practice! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from your peers. Be inspired by others but don’t copy them outright. Trust your own eye and develop it.



Who are your greatest photography influencers?
From a business perspective, I just love Colby Brown. He has the combination of creative talent and business acumen that I aspire to. I’m currently in Tonga on assignment with Olympus and have fallen in love with Scott Portelli’s work, especially his wildlife work. And I’m always inspired by my travel companion Jewels. We do a lot of work together and her style is raw and real and beautiful. @colbybrownphotography @scott.portelli @jewelszee

What is the most memorable country you have visited?
If you had asked me this a few weeks ago I would have had a different answer but I’d have to say Tonga today. I’ve been here for almost two weeks in the peak of the humpback whale season and I’m blown away by the place. It’s so natural and relaxed and beautiful.



What country are you dying to shoot in but haven’t had the chance yet?
So many!! The more I travel the bigger my bucket list grows! At the moment the countries at the top of my bucket list are Egypt, Turkey and Greenland.



Lastly, what advice would give to someone starting out in photography?
Be humble. Don’t be a d**k head and don't drag others down to attempt to lift yourself up. Practice all the time. Learn the technique and then hone your eye and never get complacent.




Follow Lauren: Instagram

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