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Travel journalist: A balancing act between art and bureaucracy

Aaron mit seinem Vater auf dem Kilimandscharo

They really do exist, those classic dream jobs. For example, traveling around the world and earning a living doing it. That’s Aaron’s everyday life as an outdoor photographer. 

(Click here for the German version of the User Story)

His everyday life also includes something that many self-employed people know all too well: „a mountain of organizational work that sometimes seems almost impossible to manage,“ as Aaron puts it. 

Aaron has already climbed Europe’s largest glacier in Iceland, fought his way through the deepest jungles in northern Thailand, and crossed the highlands of volcanoes in East Africa on foot. But every time he gets back home, there’s always a lot of paperwork waiting for him.

How does he manage this balancing act? In our interview Aaron takes us on the journey of his passion. And he tells us that his profession consists of a lot of dreams, but also a lot of work.

Hello, Aaron. You’re an outdoor photographer. Does that mean you go on vacation 52 weeks a year? 

That’s what a lot of people envision: Lying on the beach in shorts, cocktail in hand and snapping a few pictures of palm trees and sunsets in between. But it’s actually quite the opposite! Once we’re done with a project, we’re ready to go on a real vacation because we are so exhausted (laughs!).

How come?

To take the perfect picture you have to be as close to nature as possible. That’s why we are often on foot, in a kayak or on a camel. These are usually the most physically demanding, but mentally beautiful experiences. Only when you have crossed the highlands of the volcanoes in Tanzania on foot for several weeks with Maasai nomads or have overcome the massive crevasses of Vatnajökull at an altitude of 1000 meters in Iceland, do you realize how small your own place is in the world. When we return, we are exhausted. But also, inspired.

Are there any downsides to your profession?

Our profession is often described as a dream job. It  is true. However, people often forget what lies behind it. 

What do you mean?

Our profession is a way of living that the tax authorities only approve of to a certain extent. That makes it very challenging to combine our passion with the bureaucratic daily grind. I definitely find it easier to fight my way through the green jungle of northern Thailand than the piles of paperwork on my desk….

We can imagine. But the effort seems to be worth it? 

Yes, I would never want to change my profession. Besides the photography itself, it’s the moments you capture with the eye: I call that „collecting images for the inner backpack.“ These are the experiences that always make me realize why I love my job so much. 

Sleeping under the stars, in the middle of nowhere.

How did you become an outdoor photographer in the first place? 

After graduating from high school I didn’t really know what to do. My father is a travel journalist and suggested we go on a trip together. 

He probably didn’t think of a one-week all-inclusive vacation on a cruise ship.

Not quite, he planned something a bit more unconventional. We walked from Munich to Florence. A total of 1.500 kilometers! 

Wow! And that’s when it literally „clicked“?

Exactly. I discovered how much I enjoy traveling and photography. When we got back I was lucky enough to be able to do a dual apprenticeship as a media designer at a big German Television Studio in Hamburg. This gave me a good basis for realizing my passion professionally. 

Your father seems to have been a decisive inspiration in your career. How does that connect you today?

We both share this „wanderlust“ and still go on a lot of trips together. For example, we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together. It was a dream that my father had always wanted to fulfill with my grandfather – but unfortunately it never happened. Now, 30 years later, we have realized this project. After weeks of hiking, standing on the crater rim at an altitude of 6,000 meters together with my father was an incredible feeling.   

A Maasai nomad in the middle of the highlands of the volcanoes in Tanzania.

To what extent have your previous experiences shaped you? 

My father and I have a motto: „Passion doesn’t ask for meaning and purpose.“ For us there is nothing more important than the shared experience. And that’s how you get through the less pleasant things, such as bureaucracy. That’s why I like to share my own story. To encourage others to follow their passion. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned: The most beautiful views come after the hardest climbs! 

In addition to his travels, Aaron also does photo workshops in Hamburg. He guides small groups through  the world of photography and gives many practical tips along the way. The photo courses can be booked via his Jimdo website.

Furthermore, the trip Aaron took together with his dad to Mount Kilimanjaro was turned into a movie! You can find more information about it here.

Katharina Mühe
Katharina ist Content Creator bei Jimdo und immer auf der Suche nach inspirierenden Geschichten von Menschen, die für ihre Leidenschaft brennen. In ihrer Freizeit kocht sie gerne, ist viel mit Freunden oder in der Natur unterwegs.
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