Following Along With Officer Travels
I’m a sucker for a great Instagram feed. These days that means photos that are truly dynamic and tell stories visually. Unfortunately, these days that can be hard to come by. The travel niche of Instagram has become a proliferation of people in bikinis. On the surface, this isn’t something that I have a problem with. Rock out with your, well cover that part up. But my point is I don’t have a problem with full or partial nudity. What I do take umbrage with is the lack of perspective. And the wild animals. People in bikinis holding wild animals will always perplex me.
So, when do come across a feed that I find evocative, I latch on and try my best to share my newfound wealth. That brings me to my newest feature: Leah and Declan at Officer Travels.
Focusing mainly on wildlife and nature, their feed is a feast for the eyes and a balm for soul. After all these years online, I am a firm believer that shameless self-promotion creates thirst, but true self-expression quenches it. Scrolling through Leah’s feed is a like taking an ice-cold gulp of fresh water in the sea of thirst traps. And I am here for it.
Lucky for you, they were willing to share a bit of their time and explain their journey. You can read all about it below!
Hello, Leah and Declan! Thank you so much for joining me today! Can you briefly introduce yourselves? Where do you hail from and where are you now?
Hey! Thanks for virtually having us over! We're originally from a little village in rainy England but now we're travelling Australia in our tiny home on wheels, ‘Mo’.
Traveling become really trending in the past few years, but I always find that we perma-travelers and digital nomads were always inspired to live this life for quite a while. When did you first realize that you were a traveler and not a vacationer?
I think our spontaneous trip to Cornwall was a real eye opener for us. We just packed up our car one day and spent 2 weeks down there, a week of that we spent sleeping in our car! It was so different to our usual holiday but made us see how much we enjoyed living without the home comforts.
What was the first place that you visited?
The first place we visited together was probably the peak district. As you can tell from our instagram, we love nothing more than being lost in nature. We were lucky enough to grow up a short drive from the peaks so it was a perfect weekend getaway for us really.
What was the first place that you traveled abroad?
We spent our first Christmas together in France. I'd never been and Dec's dad lives there so it was a great time to go. I think I need to give Paris another chance though, we spent three days there and was really underwhelmed by it.
You all decided to just pick up and go. What was the biggest factor in your decision to do that?
We were craving change and time wasn't on our side for working holiday visas. The working holiday visa for Australia cuts off at 30, so at 26/27 it really was a case of do it now or spend forever thinking what if. At least now we have a few years to squeeze in a WHV for New Zealand and maybe even Canada. We might have had a house and good jobs but I'd give it all away again for what we have now.
How did you deal with possible adverse opinions from your friends and family?
Dec's family weren't surprised at all, he's always been a free spirit. I'm the complete opposite though, a real home bird. My family were a bit shocked but they could see how much we wanted it. We were just very good at talking about it, our plans, what we knew would do and even what we didn't know, keeping everyone in the loop even if they didn't really understand helped ease any potential fall out I think.
Once you did decide to go, where was the first place that you hit up?
Our first port of call was Guangzhou! We decided to add a 14 hour layover to our flights to Melbourne and I'm really glad we did. Sure, it was a nightmare for jet lag but it really broke up the long plane journey.
How long ago was that?
Wow, it was actually a year a 3 months ago… time’s flying!
How many places have you visited so far?
Since leaving home we've been to Guangzhou, Australia and Indonesia (Bali, Nusa Islands and Gili islands). It's not a lot in numbers but we've travelled from Adelaide all the way up to Brisbane (although we'll be a lot past there by the time this is out) while in Australia which is actually A REALLY LONG WAY haha we underestimated how big this country is!
What has been the biggest adventure or moment in this journey that has been the most evocative so far?
I've conquered a lot of fears while we've been travelling, so snorkelling with sea turtles in Indonesia is a biggie for me. I get lol emotional just thinking about it. But then we've also just been to Australia zoo. We grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV so being able to walk around a place he called home was incredible.
Now let’s get into your photography! I love your feed! Who takes the majority of your photos?
I'd say it's an even split but Dec would argue that he does haha I take most of the animal/nature type ones, we have so many photos of wildlife it's unreal. Dec’s really into the slow shutters, night photography and urban landscapes.
Are you self-taught, or did you take a course?
I did a media course at uni, but it was mainly film and theory so technically when it comes to photography I'm self taught. Dec is 100% self taught and had actually never picked up a camera until this year.
What is your camera and lens of choice?
We're in love with our Sony A6000. Our lenses are the 16mm to 50mm kit lens and 55mm to 210mm.
What is your secret to composing the perfect shot?
Take your time, look for new angles. We've been known to wait ages for a shot, either for the clouds to shift or for a crowd to leave.
How important is it for your photos to tell a story?
OK so this is why I love wildlife photography, you can catch an animal's emotions in a single frame. Every photo has a story, even if you didn't plan it that way. We like our photos to at least have space for a story, like you could put yourself there, imagine the sounds and smells.
A few months ago, I got an email from an aspiring traveler digital nomad. What is your advice for anyone looking to sell all their belongings and take off?
It's so cliche but honestly just do it. Selling our things was the hardest part, so we split it into categories and was strict (sentimental, sell, donate) We ended up with just one box in storage at our parents. The rest either got sold or given to those who needed it. Just the act of cutting ties with ‘stuff’ gave us enough courage for the next step.
Thank you for so much for participating. Where can we find you on the internet?
No worries, the pleasure was ours! We're pretty much everywhere with @officertravels haha here's our links >
Our blog: www.officertravels.com
Dec's insta: www.instagram.com/officertravels.photography
My insta: www.instagram.com/officertravels