Have App Will Travel: 4 Professional Photographers Who’ve Made It Big On Instagram

9 June 2014

Having recently hung out with a gaggle of Instagram celebs on the Gold Coast, Flight Centre would like to introduce you to some of our favourite Australian landscape photographers. Rachel Surgeoner interviews @jewelszee @mattglastonbury @melissafindley @lovethywalrus.

 @jewelszee snaps a surfer at Snapper Rocks

Meet Jewels Lynch (aka @jewelszee)

Why do you take photographs?

I don't think there's anything that I've done in my life, besides having children, that makes me happier. And I think it's one of the few things I’ve done that makes other people happy too.

When did you start taking photographs?

I started taking photographs initially with my phone, in 2011, when I got my first iPhone 3G, and got the Instagram app.

You have 51,000 followers, how does one grow an Instagram network so big?

Obviously having good content and being really engaged in the community, being consistently on there, and connecting with people who have similar interests to you.

Essentially, this is your brand now; you’ve created it through your work and Instagram – that’s pretty cool!

I get told that a lot; people say I have an amazing and unique brand [smiles]. It’s nice to hear that my feed is really unique and my personality on Instagram is really genuine.

What new opportunities has Instagram brought to you?

It's been amazing. Firstly, I won some money! I won a huge photogtaphy competition and I won $10,000 (some of which I spent purchasing my first SLR camera). Before that I also won a trip to Hamilton Island, to the first Hamilton Island ‘Instameet’. In mid-2012 I won a trip to Uluru, through instagram as well; from there I got more notice and a few tourism boards picked up on me. Since then I've developed relationships with tourism boards through my experience on Instagram and the content I’ve provided them. In the last six months I think I’ve been away from home more than I’ve been at home.

So an app can turn someone into an overnight success?

It's so true. When I got onto Instagram in the early days, I would never have dreamed in a million years that these kinds of opportunities would come to me. I just love taking photos and sharing them, and I’ve made amazing friends all over the world through the app, people who I really consider to be my friend, not just ‘followers’ or ‘following’.

Do you think instagram is a flash in the pan?

No. No I don’t think so, I think the power of Instagram will definitely get stronger before it becomes a flash in the pan.

Why do you think it's so successful?

It's simple. Our brains work on 80% visual. There's a lot of other places for photographers online, for 'real photographers’, where as Instagram is for everybody – whether you’re on there sharing your pets, or you're an amazing landscape photographer. There’s no real discerning.

 @mattglastonbury gives Lamington National Park a long exposure

Meet Matt Glastonbury (aka @mattglastonbury)

Why do you take photographs?

I like to tell stories visually. I’m always looking for a different perspective. I know we all see things differently and I like to express that through images and try to tell a story. Making people feel like they are in the scene itself, or get intrigued by what I've captured.

How long have you been taking photographs for?

Since I was a kid. I’ve been taking it seriously though for about three or four years. I’m a graphic designer by trade, and I studied photography at college for commercial work.

Where is the most remote or craziest place your photography has taken you?

The most remote? Parts of rural China, in particular the Forest of 10,000 peaks; the most southern part of Tasmania and Australia, Cockle Creek; and intriguing back alleys in Amsterdam.

Of the seven continents, how many have you travelled to?

Five.

Where are you headed next?

Tasmania. I'm off to Wineglass Bay (the iconic blue bay in Tasmania) to do a time-lapse. For a 12-hour period I’ll be shooting continuously all day. It involves taking all my gear out there and climbing up a mountain.

Once you’ve set up the camera, can you sit back and relax?

Not exactly. If it fails and I left for an hour, I’ve got to start again, so I've really got to keep an eye on it.

What’s the best photography advice you can give to somebody?

Take photos in the middle of the night, in low light, and that will teach you very quickly, how to use the camera.

 @melissafindley shoots the sun over mountains in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Meet Melissa Findley (aka @melissafindley)

When did you realise you wanted to be a photographer?

I’ve always loved photography. Always. I originally studied fashion design but realised the thing I loved about it the most was shooting the end product. It was a love I didn't recognise until that point in my life, and then it became clear that all the things leading up to that point were pointing to the fact I’ve always loved photography but never saw it in that light.

Have you studied photography?

I’m completely self-taught. I have done some photography assisting, with several photographers in different parts of the industry, just to get a feel for commercial, fashion photography etc. I observed and learnt.

How long have you been photographing professionally?

My business has been running for two years. But I’ve been taking photos since I was 15, when I received my own film camera. I started building my collection; next I had an underwater digital camera, and then a Polaroid camera too. Then I saved up for my first SLR when I was 17.

Coolest place you’ve ever travelled for work?

New York – it's a place I’ve always wanted to visit and I never imagined I’d be taken there for work. It was a dream job moment, so that was surreal. I also loved travelling to Cambodia, New Zealand and Hawaii.

Where would you like to go next?

So many places: Iceland, Europe, more of Asia... I want to go back to the US too, Yosemite would be incredible, Canada too. I'm working as hard as I can to make it my reality, to visit as many places as I can.

 @lovethywalrus captures the contrast at Surfers Paradise

Meet Paul Fleming (aka @lovethywalrus)

Why do you take photos?

I enjoy taking photos as it makes me see the world in a different light.

When did you start taking photographs?

I've been taking photographs since I was a little kid with a film camera, and progressed into digital as they came out. My first digital camera in 2001 was a Sony 2.1 megapixel with no zoom, and now I’ve upgraded to an iPhone 5s with amazing capabilities. [A genuine fourth-generation photographer, Paul shoots solely on his trusty iPhone 5s, using a variety of apps and god-given intuition to enhance his photography].

What are your favourite apps?

Average Camera Pro and Pro HDR

Where has been your favourite destination to shoot so far?

The coolest place I’ve been to is the Hotel de Glace in Quebec City. It’s made completely of ice and snow and is re-built every year in a new design. All the walls are lit up with different coloured lights. You sleep on a bed made of ice with a Nordic sleeping bag that is designed for minus 30 degrees. The hotel has bars and outdoor spas. You take a shot of vodka, then spa for 30 minutes in 40 degree water to get you body heated up for the night. Then you tuck yourself into the sleeping bag which goes all the way up around your head and you sleep as a cocoon. It wasn't exactly comfortable, but I did get a good night's sleep.

Where would you like to go next?

New Zealand. It's one of those places I’ve always wanted to go to, and it's so close. People always tell me New Zealand is a lot like Tasmania (where I live), but on a much grander scale, which I’d love to see. I'm also going back to Canada later in the year, to Quebec, courtesy of Quebec Tourism. I previously shot there in the winter, and now I want to go back in the autumn and see the contrasting colours, and show my followers the difference. The tourism board there loves that I shoot with my phone.

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.