Tomorrow, we head out to Iceland...& suddenly a concept we toyed with over the course of the past six months (on and off), wondering if it was doable or worth it or the right course of action or if maybe we were just done with this whole travel blogging thing is a reality. It feels right in the kind of deep-sigh way that only things that are exactly what you want to be doing & feel called to be doing can be. For the first time in a long time, I'm more excited about the mission behind the photographs we'll be taking than the artistic process of shooting & editing itself. And I think, as a matter of fact, that speaks a lot to how Porter and I have both changed over the course of this past year.
If you travel for long enough, if you see enough places on a wide enough diversity spectrum (& not just cultural diversity, but environmental, ecological, governmental, economical, etc.) I think it's only natural to reach a point where you kind of retreat into your own head to process all that you've seen and figure out where you fit, how you're going to make the fact that you've seen all that matter somehow, or if you can at all, or if it's self-centered to think you might be able to. Porter and I have been calling this the "contemplative threshold," and it's something we've talked to other friends who've travelled a good amount about, and they seem to have all experienced it too.
There's always superficial talk about traveling to "gain perspective," a term that's become empty and a little cliche over time, but there's truth to that mission. Go enough places, and you will hit something between a wall and a crack in a wall and realize there are infinite things to learn about the world outside of yourself (only about two dozen of which you were formerly aware of), and that, whether you like it or not, you've started a fire beneath yourself and are now desperate to take that knowledge and do something with it, something of value & purpose. At least, that's how it's gone in our case.
If you haven't been following along on Instagram, you'll have no clue what I'm talking about here, but a couple of weeks ago now Porter and I announced that we'll no longer be traveling solely for the sake of sharing ethical fashion brands and the occasional eco hotel. Instead, we're choosing one place to travel to each month with the exclusive purpose of highlighting a different sustainability-related issue that location contributes to or is working to fix.
In Iceland, we're going to be covering renewable energy because, despite the fact that the average Instagrammer has seen roughly one thousand photos of Iceland on their discover pages, very few realize it's the only country in the world running entirely on renewable energy right now, or that the Blue Lagoon is a part of a geothermal network that allows Icelanders to do everything from heat schools to keeping parking lots de-iced all winter long.
I was initially hoping in this blog post that I would be able to give an outline for exactly what to expect, some version of a "here's how things are going to go in the weeks ahead," but, to be completely honest, we're winging this. I don't mean that in an irresponsible way (we've been reading up on all things renewable energy and Iceland for months at this point), but more so that we're giving ourselves creative license to shoot and share what we feel gets the message of what we're doing across in the most impactful way possible.
I think all photographers (and Instagrammers dealing with an algorithm that does not reward risk) reach a point where they feel confined by the expectations their past work has created. We're kind of freeing ourselves of all that this time around. If we want to shoot and share a landscape, we aren't going to worry about if that's not what we usually do. In this new stage of travel, we're hoping to show more allegiance to the content we feel most accurately reflects and engages those interested in the purpose we've travelled to Iceland for than simply sticking to what we know. I guess you could say, we're catering to those who are following and are all-in on our mission to raise awareness for these environmental issues because that's the audience we want to appeal to and to grow within.
For the sake of at least a gist of what to expect, here's a quick play-by-play: We're going to be sharing Instagram stories explaining a handful of renewable energy topics, talking about everything from how to incorporate more renewable energy into your day-to-day life to how solar panels work to how quickly the United States could become energy independent. Some of these stories will be backed by a more in depth blog post, and the majority of our captions will add to or lay the foundations for these stories. The hope is that by presenting and sharing all we've learned in the most simple & straightforward way possible, our account can become a place where you aren't just inspired to care about where your clothes from or travel to a new place, but where you can learn about environmental issues that matter today and why they matter and how they came to matter and what you can do to start solving them. We want this trip (and all of our trips going forward) to show that a lot of problems that are usually presented in complex, scientific terms are actually pretty simple, usually with simple fixes, and that the average person can take steps toward fixing them just by making better choices and that that is empowering.
Lately we've been juggling dozens of ideas of where to go and what to cover in the months ahead, everything from ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest to sea level rises in Venice to desertification in Namibia to coral bleaching in Belize. It's still a little startling to me how quickly you can go from feeling depleted to so re-energized in the same field when you're willing to listen to your gut and shift your focus.
There's that old saying, "If it aint broke, don't fix it." More and more so lately, I've realized I disagree with that entirely. Just because something is working well and successful from the outside looking in, doesn't mean it shouldn't be reevaluated, dissected, and scrutinized. Sometimes things that seem to work perfectly well can work even better if you're willing to break them down and build them back up again.
Next stop, Iceland.
Anna Lisa & Porter