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The Jeremy Scott Foster Interview

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Jeremy Scott Foster is a travel photographer, blogger, and professional adventurer. He has been traveling the world for 8 years, asking the hard questions, and learning about both the world and himself in the process.

His adventure travel blog, TravelFreak, has taken him to around 40 countries on six continents—he’s hiked glaciers in New Zealand, partied until sunrise on the beaches of Montenegro, taught English in China, conquered the highest bungee jump in the world, traversed Europe by train, and climbed inside the great Pyramids of Giza.

Jeremy has been featured by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Forbes, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, The Boston Globe and USA Today, among others. You can usually find him on the edge of his comfort zone and jumping from high places in remote regions around the world.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our interview with Jeremy Scott Foster himself.

When did you first start traveling? Where was your first trip to?

I first started traveling in 2010. After graduating from college in 2009 and finding myself smack-dab in the middle of a recession, I found it nearly impossible to find a job that was actually worth having. So, in thinking outside the box, I realized that if the United States was having a financial crisis, it made sense to go somewhere that wasn’t! I bought a one-way ticket to Australia—and a working/holiday visa to go along with it—and I haven’t looked back since. I spent the next five years traveling the world as a travel blogger by day and cocktail bartender by night.

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Were you always interested in photography?

I grew up around cameras, and even took some classes in high school, but didn’t actually start to develop a passion for it until well into my travels. Despite spending hours in the darkroom, to me, photography was just another class (side note: school was never my jam). Once I started traveling, and especially blogging, I started to develop more of an interest in it. Now, it’s one of my favorite parts about blogging and running this business!

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What kind of photography equipment did you use when you first started?

When I first started traveling, the only camera I took with me was a little Canon PowerShot Point and Shoot.

How has your equipment changed since your first started and what impact do you think equipment (camera, lens, etc…) has on a photographer?

Some of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken were actually shot on that little PowerShot—and it only took photos in JPG. After that camera, I graduated to the Canon Rebel SL1, a more compact version of the T5i, and shot semi-professionally for years using the Tokina 11-16 and the famous nifty fifty.

Nowadays I shoot Fujifilm, mostly due to size and the fact that it’s a mirrorless system, though the ergonomics are an added plus. Crop sensors are so much lighter and smaller, and size is one of the biggest determining factors in developing my kit.

As for what makes a good photographer, I think a good lens is more important than a good camera. That said, the best camera is the one that shoots at the same level you do. A better—or more expensive—camera isn’t going to make you a better photographer. It’s only once you start to outgrow the technical limitations of a camera that you need to upgrade. I’ve seen people with $10,000 setups in their bag revert to their smartphone because they didn’t know how to use the technology (they just had a lot of money to wax). Paying more for a camera won’t make you a better photographer but learning how to use your gear will.

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What are some quick tips for a beginner travel photographer?

Figure out your “thing.” What kind of photos do you want to take (street photos, mountains, lifestyle, portraits, etc.)? What style do you want to have? Figure out your goal and work backwards—creatively—from there. Then, spend 30 minutes every day learning. Consume every YouTube tutorial you can. There is so much information out there—it would be a waste not to use it.

How do you stay productive while on the road?

I don’t! It’s nearly impossible to work while on the road, so I do one of two things. I either build in twice the amount of time in a place (at least), or I give myself a long enough break in between trips to catch up on all the work I know I won’t be able to complete on the road.

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What is your process like after an adventure shoot? (What do you use to edit, do you edit whole shoots at a time, or do you pick your favorites and edit those first, etc…)

My process has taken me years to develop, and I still get lost in it. There is no right or wrong answer—you just have to learn what works best for you.

After a day—or week—of shooting, I get back to my machine and import everything into Lightroom in one go. I make sure to build 1:1 previews before reviewing photos because, otherwise, the process of waiting for every photo to load takes too long.

From there, I’ll go through each photo, one-by-one, and mark my favorites with a single star. I repeat the process, this time filtering by starred photos, and apply a 3-star rating to my favorites of the bunch, and then do the same with a 5-star rating. Once I have my favorites rated with 5 stars, I start the editing process.

After editing my favorites of the bunch, I apply a Flag within Lightroom. From there, if there are truly exceptional photos, I’ll drop a color (blue!) tag onto the photo as well.

I think it’s important to cull and organize your photos in a cohesive way. This way, you can go back to old photoshoots and you know exactly how to find the best of the best.

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How do you decide where you are going to travel and then plan your trip out?

I’m a blow-in-the-wind type of traveler. The plans tend to fall into place on their own—rarely do I decide that, in Month X I’m going to travel to Destination Y. Sometimes it has to do with projects I’m shooting, other times it’s for events, conferences, or just to visit friends!

Where do you hope to travel in the next few years?

Russia has always been high on my list and I’m hoping to make it there in the next couple of years. I’d like to spend a few months—at least—traveling around, starting with the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I tend not to travel with a plan other than “show up, see what happens.” Photography aside, that’s how the best adventures are born.

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Thanks so much for reading through our interview with Jeremy Scott Foster, we hope that you enjoyed it and learned as much as we did! Make sure you catch up with Jeremy on all of his travels on Instagram, the TravelFreak blog, and Twitter!

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