I travel, I travel a lot! I also use Instagram and these two things have a lot in common. You see I am one of the rapidly expanding breed of professional Instagrammers, leveraging off my online popularity to secure travel opportunities. However, unlike so many of my kind, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have enabled me to turn what may be a passing craze into a career in destination marketing.
First a little bit about me. I’m a former chef who got into Instagram in its early days and made it big! I fell in love with the app overnight and earnestly took pictures on an iPhone 4 to upload to my few hundred followers. Little did I know that Instagram would begin a passion for photography that seemingly came out of nowhere and rages on to this day. After making a financial investment in my new hobby buying the traditional beginner kit of camera, kit lenses, tripod and accessories, I set off exploring my own backyard and teaching myself the ins and outs of aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Fast forward to now and I am shooting on the Nikon D800 with a veritable buffet of professional lenses, using the best photo tripods on the market in various sizes and weights and slipping a selection of top quality Lee filters into my custom filter holder. How did I become this person? And why am I traveling all over the world?
When Facebook took over Instagram and the android market came onboard I found myself with a rapidly growing account. It certainly didn’t hurt that I was beginning to shoot well and had the time and interest to engage with so many other Instagram users and photographers. Before the end of 2012 and just a year after starting on Instagram I was being offered a few cool opportunities. I scored some free watches and sunglasses, took part in a kind of awesome instameet on Hamilton Island and saw my name in print when a local journalist got wind of my success.
I guess you could say that at this point I had an inkling that I could be on to something. Unfortunately my job in the kitchen was proving quite a pest when I couldn’t be out shooting sunsets and I was trying to schedule in cool trips! After some thought I decided to take 6 months off work to see what would happen. Someone must have been watching out for me because literally the day I gave my notice I had three amazing emails in my inbox. Each email led to work, money and travel and I will always remember all three as where it all began.
So all is going well in life. It’s early 2013, I’ve managed to ask for a few bucks to go away on trips and there’s a good overall feeling of potential success. But I’m starting to ask myself, is it enough? Do I want to do a few trips and make a few bucks and be cool on Instagram? Well obviously the answer is yes but what happens when other popular users come up behind me, what happens when Instagram takes a back step to some great new app or social platform, what happens when every state tourism board in Australia has hired me already? These questions and more started my journey to revolutionizing the way that digital influencers are working in Australia. I knew that I wanted to travel and I knew that I wanted to do this forever so how could I make a name for myself in a brave new world?
I guess it doesn’t hurt that I love Instagram. I never set out to be popular or to be “instafamous”. I also love people, I genuinely love to interact and engage with people in person and online. Probably most importantly, I like to do well at things. I’ve never been the sort of person to sit back and cruise. Combine my new ambition to make a career out of travel photography with these traits and you have a walking, talking sponge. I found myself soaking up knowledge from destination marketing specialists, PR agents, photographers, bloggers, speakers, digital influencers, marketing and advertising agents and other instagrammers. I set out to understand who I was, what I was selling and how I could make a genuine difference in how to use social media to market a destination.
You see I believe in social media destination marketing. I believe that it works and I believe that it doesn’t have to be cheesy. Social media is not for advertising. Please shoot me if it ever looks like I am trying to sell you something! On the contrary I am just trying to capture the uniqueness and beauty of different destinations and bring my followers along for the ride. If it happens that you’re thinking of your next holiday and you like the look of where I’m at then I’ve done my job and all without an aggressive approach.
For me, I am a visual person. I also operate on whims. If I see an image that captures my imagination I usually want to know more. I believe that a lot of people are the same. Images speak to you, they resonate, they get into your mind! What I try to do is tell a story at a destination and hope that my images resonate with people. I believe that every destination is beautiful! I love to travel and I love nature and the world, if I can see beauty wherever I go then I can show that beauty to you with my lens.
My name is Lauren Bath and I am a professional Instagrammer. Over the next three weeks I want to teach you a little bit about the three things I know about. Those three things are Photography, Marketing and Social Media. With a little bit of time and a lot of curiosity I have carved a niche for myself doing exactly what I love on my own terms. I’m making a difference in tourism and paving the way for others. One convert at a time I am helping destinations to take a chance on, what to most is, a scary and new style of marketing. I hope you’re interested to read more.