We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Grier and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
The entire reason I became a photographer was because I was obsessed with watching Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic channel at a young age. I actually thought I wanted to be a Zoologist or an Archaeologist my whole childhood, because to me that meant being Indiana Jones who I was obsessed with. My three sisters and I had a very unusual upbringing. Growing up, both of my parents worked for the CIA and we were stationed all over the world. All 4 of us would eventually work at headquarters in Langely as our first jobs during college. At a young age I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia and I lived in London and Italy and I was constantly around new languages and cultures. Because of my upbringing, I realized there is a huge world outside of my bubble and it has created this wanderlust/travel bug within me that will always influence my work. My life has been full of travel and the unexpected and from a young age I realized that I could combine the adventures of archaeologists, geologists, and explorers with my obsession for National Geographic imagery and become a Travel Photographer and nothing has gotten in my way since.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My style is very vibrant, bold, fun, and edgy. I like to give my clients a VIBRANT EXPERIENCE, Not only through my imagery, but with the service I provided as well. I love to travel and have adventures and I will do whatever it takes the get the shot. I LOVE to tell a story that takes them on a surreal journey of their wedding that looks as beautiful and glamorous as they have envisioned it themselves. For my couples they are experiencing their weddings with heightened emotions, like they are on a high, so I feel like I just enhance my own images to match their vision. I am there every step of the way and filtering their own wedding through my eyes and THAT is my selling point. So when my client hires me, they are hiring ME, not just my photography, to capture the fun, beauty and adventure of the ENTIRE experience of the trip, not just the wedding itself. I AM Branding myself as an EXPERIENCE not just a vendor. I am always inspired to create and to travel and to find ways to make money doing what I love to do. I think traveling “resets me” from getting wrapped up in my own personal bubble and it keeps me humble. I have learned that we make our own lives as complicated as they are and when I meet those who have far less than me, it doesn’t mean that they are not “rich”. The pursuit of wealth and status will only take you so far in life. The path to a happier, healthier and more balanced life is one that takes in a depth of life experiences and not just the accumulation of material wealth. I was recently honored by the Discovery Channel UK to be named as one of the “richest people on Earth” amongst 19 other amazing global entreprenuers who have made a difference to their local communities, artists who have made their work their life, and offbeat outliers who have defied convention. This may be the best and most important accolade I have ever received in my career as a photojournalist. The same reasons that my photography career has been challenging are also what makes it fulfilling. I believe that having a story, having a “purpose” behind anything you do not only adds value, but engages your audience and builds more of a connection to the people and places around you. Photojournalism is always about trying to find that story, that “thing” that connects people to your work whether it is a written story or an image. It makes the work bigger than yourself and not about you as an individual. My camera acts like a forcefield and a passport for me to enter into uncomfortable or even dangerous situations. People want their stories to be told and I crave to tell them and crave to find ways to connect to this Earth. So I would say that photojournalism gives me a unique view into otherwise unknown parts of the world, but with that privilege comes consequences. I am gone from home a lot. I can be in harsh conditions or dangerous situations. I can be alone a lot and on the move a lot and it makes it hard to find others that can understand my lifestyle and relate to my wanderlust. I DO believe for all of us, not just me, that our fear and lack of confidence is usually the only thing that holds us back from the dreams we aspire to achieve in life. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that I had more control over the types of jobs I wanted and to go brand myself as an adventure travel photographer from the beginning. Also, I would have explained that “success” is not based on getting the most money, status, or celebrity jobs, but based on if you are doing what you love everyday and creating an impact in the world. I would have said to be less hard on myself, to not compare yourself to others, and be ok with being unique and turn those feelings of envy and comparison into inspiration and motivation instead.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well that has completely changed due to covid now, but I live on Venice Beach so we tend to get creative over here. I believe that a well-rounded trip involves adventure, relaxation, exploring and learning something new, and somewhere where you can have a bit of nightlife and good food as well. I like “journeying” somewhere whether its on a boat or a road trip, so I would say the perfect weekend here would be: -Come to Venice Beach and ride bikes along the boardwalk, Eat with your feet in the sand at Baja Cantina, layout and relax in the sun , then have a danceparty on the beach at sunset to a silent disco on the beach with @TheWaveSilentdisco. -The next day you could pack a day bag and drive to Long Beach to take the ferry to Catalina Island. You will see dolphins along the way and in one day you can: -rent golf carts and tour around Avalon -go shopping and stroll along the boardwalk with ice cream -go snorkel in the kelp forests -go for a ridge hike overlooking the Channel islands -Reward yourself by relaxing in the sun at Descanso Beach Club in a Cabana and partying with the boats that pull up -Have dinner and drinks at one of the beach bars at Bluewater Beach -then head home on the ferry or stay the night in a cute B&B! The Final day of your weekend, I would cross town to Hollywood and spend a relaxing day at a hotel pool like Chateau Marmont and walk around Melrose and shop OR just stay in the Marina and paddleboard and have a evening picnic on the beach with friends. The beach is now the “happening place” to be and all of the bars and restaurants have moved outside, so you can bar hop on your bicycle!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would have to say Jane Goodall and National Geographic have been huge influences on me and pursuing my dreams. Jane also worked and continues to work closely with National Geographic today championing women and being a female explorer before that was even a “thing”. She boldly traveled to Africa as a single female in the 1960’s to study chimpanzees when it was an unheard of idea for a woman and a super long and dangerous journey. She followed her passions never having a woman before her having done it before and to aspire to be like. My photography career has been a natural progression in my life as I grow as an individual, seek purpose in my own life, and have learned to be a more intentional person with how and with whom I choose to spend my time. As a photojournalist straight out of college, I knew that I was greatly affected by the subjects that I photographed. So it made sense that I gravitated towards photographing love, celebrations, and weddings instead of war and famine. I LOVE love and living life to the fullest and constantly seek beauty in the world. My wedding business led me to destination weddings and traveling more and ultimately shooting for hotels, travel brands, and National Geographic Catalog around the world. Through my own experiences working with National Geographic catalog and their indigenous artisans across the world for the past 12 years, my work has evolved to take on more meaning in my life. I have traveled many times to Peru and have had the chance to explore the Sacred Valley and meet these incredible Quechua women who are ancient Incan weavers and have an amazing hat culture. I love the energy of the Sacred Valley and wanted to find a way to work with these women to start a business. Thus the idea was born to create Andeana Hats using their personal hat styles with their traditional weavings to create apparel that captures the energy and culture of the people of the Andes Mountains. National Geographic has facilitated me starting this passion project and Andeana is a combination of every passion that I have in my life into one business: photography, travel, my love for Peru, writing, art, teaching, mentoring, exploring new cultures, color, empowering women, fashion and of course my obsession with hats and Indiana Jones!
Website: www.andeanahats.com. and www.lauragrier.com
Instagram: @lauragriertravel @andeanahats
Laura Grier, Co-Founder Andeana Hats Pats Krysiak, Co-Founder Andeana Hats “Yellow Dress in Chefchaouen”, Rosanna Cordoba