For someone who can legally claim her travel back on tax, owns the title of ‘Australia’s first professional Instagrammer’, and just came off a GoPro campaign in Perisher, Lauren Bath is pretty down to earth.
We catch the professional traveller/digital influencer/photographer extraordinaire in a moment of rare downtime to talk social media, life on the road and quitting your day job to chase the wildest of dreams.
Lauren, how did Instagram help kick start your travel career?
Instagram is at the heart of what I do but really, it was a total fluke. I didn’t know even know it was about pictures when I first downloaded it from the app store. I just made an account and was lucky enough to stumble across some nice communities…then I bought a camera and fell properly in love with photography.
My account skyrocketed because of the fact that I was sharing, I was passionate, and I was on the platform early, right when it was exploding. Then by the time I had built up a following, I had started tentatively considering whether there could be more opportunities in it. And I thought to myself, ‘what would I want to do in a perfect world?’, and the answer was travel.
So how did you make that dream a reality?
I was in my early 30s, working as a chef and I thought ‘if there was ever a time to take a risk, it would be right now’. I didn’t want to regret not taking the opportunity. I wanted to embrace everything that was happening.
So when I had a New Year’s Eve service and the kitchen hand didn’t come in, I was there washing dishes and just thought ‘screw this’…so the next day I quit. And that same day I woke up to three massive, amazing opportunities in my inbox. So I took all of them.
After those projects, I decided I didn’t want to sit back and wait for things to fall in my lap, so I started reaching out to people and tourism boards. The work started rolling in. And you know what? The thing that helped me more than anyone could ever realise, was that I knew from the word ‘go’ that I needed to make money. And I was strict on that. I didn’t know how much at first but I knew that I had to get paid something and that really helped me to put a value on myself, gain respect from people and to be a professional in an emerging industry.
What’s a regular day for you on the road?
On campaign, it would start off with a very early morning. I hit sunrise almost 100 percent of the time when I’m away. Straight after sunrise it’s not uncommon for me to go have a long breakfast, start editing the dawn shots and do my first Instagram upload.
After that, I’ll hit the road again, scout locations, go and do different activities and check out tourism board products, then have lunch. Afternoons involve more shooting and some downtime for edits and uploading. I try and spend at least half an hour on Instagram and two hours a day editing. Then it’s a sunset shoot and dinner.
Tell us about your first travel experience.
My first taste of overseas travel wasn’t until I was 26 when I went to Thailand, so I was a bit of a late bloomer. It wasn’t until my third trip with a friend to Bali that I really caught the travel bug and got a taste of freedom…that trip was actually the catalyst for big changes in my life. I ended a 10-year relationship, moved back to the Gold Coast and decided that I wanted to travel for real.
And today I feel so at home on the road, and I’m so passionate about travel and tourism, that I just feel it was meant to be. That’s why I’ve had this level of success and why so many good things have happened for me, because I honestly believe that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
What’s been your favourite adventure so far?
Oh, that’s a hard one! Not least because I have so many clients who want me to say that their destination is my favourite! (laughs). No, but seriously, I love everywhere. Even still, I have pinch me moments. But one campaign that stands to mind, and will always resonate with me, was my first time to Alberta, Canada…it’s just the most beautiful place on earth.
You drive along the ice field pathway and there are world-class landscapes as far as the eye can see in every direction and it blows your mind. I’ve since gone back and worked with Alberta three more times, which makes four visits in just two years.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to make a career out of travel?
Definitely pursue social media. It’s difficult to find an audience these days, so if you’re already bringing that to the table it makes you a much stronger option for tourism boards. I always say to people, don’t get into social media because of what you want to get out of it, you need to do it for the right reason. If you’re using social media to share your journey because you love it, you’re passionate about it and you enjoy your community, then you will organically grow an audience. Then you can look at monetising and turning it into a career like I have.
What are your dreams for the future?
I would like to move more into education. I’m looking at different methods of doing that, such as e-books and webinars, more public speaking, inspirational speaking. I think I would really enjoy inspirational speaking because I think that sometimes all people need is a little push…I think that I can inspire people. So definitely that.
Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Vietnam, Falls Creek, Queenstown and Italy. Oh god, I have a really busy month, don’t I?
(Photos: Lauren Bath)
Love to travel? When you’re working in the tourism industry it’s okay to daydream about holidays – it’s part of the job! If Lauren’s story has inspired you to think about a new career or a pathway to university, Evocca College’s unique learning model makes it possible. Study a Diploma of Travel and Tourism to gain practical skills and knowledge of the ever-changing travel industry and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your dream job. With more than 40 campuses across Australia, Evocca College creates a flexible study program that works around you, so you can make it work with your daily life. See what’s possible for you at evocca.edu.au.
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