Things never have to be the way they are. There’s always room for innovation and change. A fresh breeze through a stuffy room. Older changes eventually become accepted norms and so it goes.
Take travel photography for instance. When you think of travel photography, a few images probably come to mind. Lush, bright colors; crisp, clean lines. Waterfalls and colonial architecture. Dentist office stuff. The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with the expectations of the genre — but after a while, it feels played out. Boring, even.
Which is why a couple like Victoria Yore and TJ Drysdale feel so wholly unique. They flaunt convention and create images with a mythic quality. The travel photography they set out to create is nothing like the travel photography we’ve come to know. This week on #TheMadOnes, we sat down with Yore and Drysdale of @followmeaway to talk about what inspires them, how they do it, and why they ended up deciding to rattle the travel photography cage.
Where are you guys from originally? How did you get started doing what you’re doing?
Victoria: We currently live in the Tampa Bay area. I was born and raised in Tampa, and TJ was born in NYC and moved to Florida at 15. He went to school for filmmaking with the original goal to become a cinematographer, but discovered his true love was photography. He started taking photos of landscapes, and it eventually morphed into portraiture.
I have a BA in Business Management, and that has led to a career in social media management, freelance writing, and blogging. As far as modeling goes, I’ve always done it for fun and for the love of dressing up and taking photos.
Your work has such a specific style. How did the series start?
Victoria: We’d worked together for a year before our first trip to Europe. After Europe, we had so many shots in so many different locations that we wanted a way to chronicle our work. That is why we started our Follow Me Away series. The Victorian appeal fit with TJ’s already-established style of photography and he thought I was the perfect subject for the style. We love the fact that we are taking travel photos with a fine art style, something that not many people are doing!
Was there a learning curve to doing what you do? After doing it for a while, is there even a need for direction anymore?
Victoria: For TJ, there is a learning curve for each model he works with. We always worked well together, but we have certainly improved over the two years we’ve been working together. We keep direction to a minimum (turn this way, cover your pants etc.), but it’s a part of the process because only the photographer knows what he’s seeing.
How do you go about choosing locations?
Victoria: The vast majority of our locations choose us! We just drive or hike along and see something we can’t pass up, stop, and shoot it! Sometimes we have a general idea of where we want to go (“Hello, Faroe Islands!”), but we never truly know the location until we come across it. For example, yesterday we were driving and came across abandoned castle ruins. Even though we’d shot ruins before, we went to explore and they turned out better than any ruins we’d ever seen! Sometimes a location is super awesome, but there is just no possible way we could make it work and we must pass it up.
If a location is grand, a huge waterfall for example, we are going to want a bulkier dress to stand out in the landscape. If the setting is more windy and delicate, a thinner dress is probably going to be our choice.
How are you guys affording this life?
Victoria: Terrence [TJ] has made tutorials and photoshop actions and those are going over very well. I do freelance writing and social media management. We have a ‘work with us‘ page on our blog explaining everything we do and people are able to connect with us there.
How do you balance working on the project and traveling for fun? Do you ever feel like you need a “vacation from the vacation”?
Victoria: We don’t balance it. When traveling in places with epic landscapes, we always go ‘balls to the wall’ to get the best shots whether we like it or not. Sometimes it’s cold or we just want to relax and walk around like tourists, but we suck it up for the good of our project! We rest when we are in big cities with landscapes nowhere in sight!
Do you pick up dresses on the road, or do you travel with a collection?
Victoria: We generally travel with a collection. Sometimes we meet up with a local designer such as Nora Sarman in Budapest, and shoot their work. After being on the road so long, we are getting so bored of our six dresses that we’ve taken to shooting the slips! (If anyone wants to donate any vintage dresses, we are all ears!) We source a lot of our clothes from thrift stores, and those just don’t exist in Europe the same way they do in the United States, so we’ve been stuck shooting the same things. It is a challenge, but we are always pleased how different the images end up coming out!
Victoria, how has writing affected the way you travel?
Victoria: Instead of just living life, I now have to figure out what photos and content need to be in a blog post for each location I visit. Terrence and I have to constantly be in ‘work mode’ to bring the best articles to our readers!
TJ, you have a very specific editing style. Could you walk us through the process?
TJ: In RAW, I like to bring out the most detail as possible. When it comes to actual Photoshop, my goal is to use various techniques to draw the viewer’s eye to what I want them to see. I recently self-published an online tutorial where I go into great detail about my process and showcase little-known tricks and tips. Find it here.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
TJ: 19th century paintings always do it for me.
Traveling as a couple can be difficult even without a project to work on. How has that process been for you two?
Victoria: It’s been a growing process for sure! Our biggest issue is finding a balance when shooting. TJ always wants to shoot for a longer period of time and get “the shot,” while I can’t handle being out in the elements for as long because of bare skin, thin dresses, etc. Sometimes this difference of opinion can become stressful, but it’s easily overcome and we’re getting better. Warm weather should, hopefully, eliminate this issue altogether!
What’s the best bit of advice/wisdom you’ve heard recently?
Victoria: Honestly? Lots of people give us praise, but not many give advice other than ‘keep doing what you are doing.’ Advice givers…where are you?!
Where do you hope this project goes?
Victoria: We are just following our ideas, but we hope to work with some big brands on advertising their company in a unique way. Our photography is one of a kind and stands out and we would love to see it on a campaign shown in Time Square or a big city subway.
The Mad Ones is a reference to a famous quote from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: “…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”
Watch this series for interviews and profiles with people doing big, wild, bold, creative things with their lives. #TheMadOnes