Workaholic

Kateryna

Kateryna

Everyone knows the importance of experimentation, especially when trying to work your way into a creative industry. I prefer to carry around a little moleskine, jotting down any ideas that spring up on me unexpectedly, sometimes drawing sketches to better explain my ideas than words ever could. I’m fortunate to have met so many creative individuals since I began building my portfolio, so long ago, and so I have reached a point where I have a wide network of people who are willing to help me bring my ideas to life. Equally, of course, i tend to step in to help them with their ideas also.

This photo shoot was an opportunity for myself and my makeup artist Emma to go crazy with makeup and push the boat out a little more than we tend to. The idea came from a dream in which I had a lovely discussion about the state of the world’s economy over tea and biscuits with a toucan and an owl. Yes, it was one of those dreams. It just goes to show, however, that ideas for great shoots can literally come from anywhere, and we just have to alert enough to notice.

_MG_3166 _MG_3184 _MG_3233 _MG_3241 _MG_3252 _MG_3291 _MG_3296 _MG_3303 _MG_3367 _MG_3368

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Is Hitchhiking as dangerous as people think? (Especially for lone women)

In short, no.

I have been hitchhiking for quite some time now. How else can a poor student without a driver’s license explore Europe? I’m the only English person I know who is ‘brave enough’ to hitchhike, and I only know a small handful of people from other countries who hitchhike. It’s a rare thing now, which is a real shame because 99% of the time you are picked up by lovely, inspiring, fascinating people. I haven’t yet experienced the other 1%, and anyone who my guts tells me could possibly be in that small minority, I refuse to get into the car with.

Image from Something About Iceland

Hitchhiking comes down to common sense and listening to gut instinct. If I don’t feel right about someone, I’ll refuse to get into their car, even if it causes offence (especially if it causes offence!) As a lone female hitchhiker, I also have one personal rule which I always follow: never get in a car with a man or group of men, only women, couples or families. Even if it means having to wait all day for a ride, that’s my rule. When I’m travelling with a friend, then we’ll travel with anyone who passes our ‘danger sensors’.

Pepper spray is also a good precaution, and Bear spray even more so (which is basically super powerful pepper spray), though always read up on the laws and regulations on pepper/bear spray before you travel, as in some countries its classified as a prohibited weapon, whereas in others its an openly available self-defense weapon. You’d have thought that if you can show that you’ve just saved your own life by pepper spraying a dodgy character in self defense, no one would care that you were carrying a prohibited weapon in the first place… but you never know these days.

I constantly have people lecturing me on the ‘insanity’ of a woman hitchhiking alone, and my answer is always the same: people only have this idea that hitchhiking is a guaranteed way to end up raped and murdered because of the media. You never flick through the paper or turn on the evening news and see ‘News just in, lone female hitchhiker made it safely to her destination’ or ‘New study has shown that 99% of hitchhikers have no problems whatsoever on the road.’ Instead we only hear about the horror stories, the rapes, the murders, the missing people.

I don’t think we can live our lives around what the media says. We can’t not hitchhike simply because there’s a small risk it could end badly. The way I think about it, there is statistically a much greater chance of you going for a drive now and dying in a horrific car accident, or walking outside and being hit by a car than there is of coming to a horrible and gruesome end when hitchhiking. I personally would rather hitch and be considered ‘insane’ for doing so than sit in my house in my ‘safe’ city or town and wrap my life in cotton wool. That to me is insanity.

Photo from Pretty Little Treasures

HitchingHobo rules of Hitching:

  • If a woman travelling alone, only hitch with women, families or couples.
  • If possible, carry pepper/bear spray or similar.
  • If people are confused as to whether you’re a hitchhiker or a prostitute, re-think your wardrobe.
  • Have a look into the meaning of the thumbs up in certain countries. E.g. in certain countries such as Greece and Iraq, giving the thumbs up is equivalent to giving the finger.
  • Don’t be afraid to offend. A common issue with us Brits, we can be overly polite and considerate to other people’s thoughts and feelings. If I don’t like the look of someone, that British part of me thinks ‘oh but this nice man didn’t have to stop with me, he’ll be offended if I say no’, and I have to slap that side of me away. Its still important to be polite, but as long as you’re polite without going against what you want to do.
  •  Try to keep your bag with you rather than in the boot. I’ve personally witnessed an Aussie hitcher lose his bag with all of his possessions when the car sped off before he had time to retrieve it from the boot. Even if it makes travel slightly more uncomfortable, its worth it.
  • You can check that doors open from the inside by pretending not to have shut the door properly. If not, bring it up!
  • Its safer to sit in the front of the vehicle. If anything happens, you can always grab the handbrake!
  • Make a note of the registration number and at least pretend to text it to a friend. Make sure that the driver sees you do this and explain as you do it.
  • Wear visible clothing and hi vis for when its dark.
  • Be sensible when choosing where to stick out your thumb. The amount of times I’ve seen people trying to catch a ride on a blind corner!
  • Also don’t be afraid to ask a driver to drop you off somewhere else if you don’t feel they have selected the safest spot.
  • Sensible conversation. I never mention that I am a photographer, and my camera is always safely stored in my bag when I’m waiting for a ride, and remains there until they drop me off.
  • Emergency exit tip: If you find yourself wanting to get out of the car, but the driver won’t pull over, ready yourself to unlock your seat belt, wait until they come to traffic lights or a stop sign, and then in one swift motion open and door, grab your pack and get out!
  • Another one is to complain that you’re travel sick and need to get out now before you ruin his/her car!
  • Just have some common sense and listen to your gut!

There are certain countries where I would perhaps think twice before hitchhiking, particularly countries with certain views about women, but generally I think its no where near as dangerous as people think as long as you are sensible.

Don’t allow the media’s horror stories to scare you into wrapping your life in cotton wool!

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Quirky Corners of the World: Cheval’s Palais Ideal

Photograph from Facteur Cheval

Wow. Just wow.

Photograph from Tangle’s Bones

This is the masterpiece of Ferdinand Cheval, a rural postman from a town just south of Lyon. He had no artistic or architectural background, he was just really, really talented! Apparently his idea began when he tripped over an unusually shaped pebble, and from there he began collecting small stones on his postal route, starting with filling his pockets, then baskets, and finally a wheelbarrow. Starting in April 1879, he spent the next 33 years building his amazing palace by hand, often at night by oil lamp.

His had hoped to be buried inside his palace, but when his wish was denied, he decided to build himself an equally extravagant mausoleum, and he was laid to rest there in 1924, aged 88.

Photograph from Wikipedia

This is definitely somewhere that I have to see for myself. The detail is incredible, and I love the dramatically different sources of inspiration. He claimed that the tutelary spirits of the place were Julius Caesar, Archimedes and Vercingétorix. Among the various detailed monuments scattered across the palace, there is a Hindu temple, a Swiss cottage, the Maison Carrée in Algiers, an Arab mosque, and Egyptian tomb, Oriental pagodas and a Medieval castle. The three giants have faces reminiscent of the Easter Island heads.

I have to go there this summer and see it for myself.

Information on visiting the Palais Ideal can be found here.

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Glamping

I think every girl wants to go glamping (glamorous camping) at some point in her life.. I mean, look!

1 roundhouse exterior wide front door

Technically anyone can go glamping and it can fit all budgets, but it would be stretching it for a backpacker to ‘glamp it’. I mean, it can be enough of a hassle carrying around a tent, sleeping bag, a pillow, a sleeping mat/air bed. For glamping, you have to go that step further. Instead of buying your camping gear purely for practicality, you’re pretty much designing a set for a photo shoot or a movie set. It’s vain camping. If I was on a road trip, I’d go all out with the glamping and fill the Mary Poppins boot with a big white canvas tent, Urban Outfitters bedding, cushions, blankets and rugs, there’s be an adorable wicker picnic basket and Cath Kidston dishes and cutlery on the back seat, bunting and candles in my suitcase and I’d spend hours and hours perfecting it all each night before I could finally sleep on my big king sized air bed. But that would be a bit of a nuisance.

There are now campsites dedicated to Glamping, and some festivals such as the Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire (19th-22nd July) has begun to offer Glamping sites as an option for those who prefer not to get muddy. Canopy and Stars is a very good site for finding a glamped up tent, teepee or hobbit house for a night or two, as is Go Glamping, but its definitely not in a backpacker’s budget. Prices vary greatly but just to give you an idea, a Mongolian yurt for two in Carmarthenshire is currently on offer at £64 a night on the Canopy and Stars website.

Still, it is possible to ‘glamp’ up a normal camping trip, particularly for festivals. The high street is full of more fashion-worthy camping gear around at the moment.

Cathkidston

Cath Kidston is a very good brand for glamping. Her website has a whole section dedicated to picnics and camping, including the tent above and cutlery below.

And Urban Outfitters are brilliant for bedding, cushions and rugs.

Black Rug

Yellow Floral Rug

Pink Floral Rug

Reversible Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Floral Quilt

So not really a realistic option for serious budget backpackers, just something that girls who love both fashion and travel dream about. Like I said, if I ever buy a car/campervan and go away on a road trip, maybe I’ll glamp it. Or (more likely), maybe I’ll splash out for a short glamping trip somewhere, and save myself the hassle of having to set up my camp site.

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25+ Ways to Earn Money on the Road

I always find it interesting learning about how people are funding their travels while on the move, especially as photography isn’t always the most reliable source of income, it is literally a feast or famine career, especially if I am going to be constantly moving about, never settling anywhere long enough to build a base.

Here are some of the money-making career choices and quirky ideas that I have heard about over the years:

  1. Freelance work. Photography, web design, illustration, legal work, admin. I could go on and on. Travel the world and work on beaches with your laptop. Perfect!
  2. Teach English. An option that I have been looking into. I’m in the middle of a 140 hour TEFL course at the moment, which will allow me to teach English in schools, privately, one-to-one, to children, adults and business men around the world. A very popular choice among travellers.
  3. Resort Jobs. Another popular option. Resorts worldwide are constantly on the lookout for staff for their reception, restaurants, or for the activities they hold.
  4. Hostels. Hostels are also an easy option. I did this for a few days here and there last summer, and I found that generally even if a hostel has no need for more staff at that time, they will usually recommend a ‘sister hostel’ that does. If you’re lucky they may even just allow you to linger for free – free accommodation!
  5. Work Exchange. This is something that I want to try out this summer. WWOOF is probably the most well known organisation for this, and I’ve also heard things about HelpX.net. Basically in exchange for so many hours unpaid work (generally 4-6 hours), you receive free food and accommodation. Mostly people will be working on farms, doing anything from helping with the harvest to helping in the kitchen. HelpX also includes some ads looking for help in B&B’s, hostels and on sailing boats!
  6. Fruit-picking. Popular in Australia. The pay can be a combination of payment per kilo, food or accommodation.
  7. House-sitting. Another one that I intend to try this summer. I have couchsurfed many times, but this one is taking it one step further: taking care of someone’s house while they are away. Rarely do you actually get paid for this, but you instead save money on accommodation! I’ve often heard about lovely home-owners stocking their kitchens with food for their sitters before they leave, so maybe if you’re lucky you can save money on food too! Mind My House and House Carers are two very good sites.
  8. Bar-tending. Easy cash-in-hand work. Just ask around.
  9. Cafe/Restaurant work. Same goes really.
  10. Cruise Ships. There are so many available jobs on cruise ships. Photographers, croupiers, waiters/bar staff, performers, retail staff, receptionists, spa staff, hairdressers and makeup artists. And then there are the much needed doctors and technicians. Options for everyone! You get to travel the world, its good pay, and its good work experience.
  11. Tour Guide. As a general rule, you can’t really survive as a tour guide if you can only speak English, though I have seen some English-only tours in cities like Rome and Paris, so it’s not impossible. You also have to, of course, know your stuff! Brush up on your history!
  12. Busking. Not an option for me unfortunately, my musical talents are pretty poor. 
  13. Au Pair. Its very case-by-case, but generally you are given a room and weekly payment in exchange for taking care of someone’s children.
  14. Teach people to play musical instruments. Again, not an option for me, my piano skills are very rusty and I can hardly read sheet music! But if you can play an instrument, why not advertise yourself as a private tutor?
  15. Teach whatever you know! So many other options. Yoga, dance, languages, surfing (apparently you don’t even have to be particularly good to be a surfing instructor, as long as you’re better than the paying beginners), scuba diving (if you are certified), photography. Again, I could go on
  16. Massages. I met a girl last year who was offering €5 massages in one of the most popular hostels in Paris and making enough that she could travel every month or two. Trust me, there’s nothing you want more than a full body massage after carrying around a heavy backpack all day!
  17. Hairdressing. A similar idea, and again I met a girl who was offering hair cuts in a hostel in Slovenia, and most of her customers were long-term travellers who had long neglected their hair.
  18. Selling goods. If you’re good at arts and crafts, you could always sell your produce online or at markets.
  19. Travel Writing. A tricky business, but if you work hard enough, you could find yourself sipping cocktails on various beaches around the world reviewing your travels as you go.
  20. Blogging. Another very tricky business and not one that is guaranteed to earn money. A lot of effort has to go into building up a blog.
  21. Working on a Yacht. Not always paid, but websites such as DesperateSailors and Find a Crew are good for finding boats in search a crew members. Sailing experience will of course be necessary (seems obvious but the amount of backpackers I’ve met who have seemed shocked when they found they couldn’t just hop onto someone’s boat and catch a free ride).
  22. Tour Operators. General tasks include greeting people as they arrive, making sure that groups remain organised and leading them to their tour bus.
  23. Construction Work. If you have experience, this can be a good option for short-term cash-in-hand (payment under-the-table) work.
  24. Acting. I’ve heard that if you linger around the Colaba area of Mumbai, no matter what you look like, soon enough you’ll be approached by a scout and asked if you would like a part in a Bollywood film. This is also common in Kenya and apparently they pay isn’t bad!
  25. Be Creative! I’ve heard some pretty quirky and very creative ways of making money on the road over the years. You could work as an English sign editor, meaning that you literally wander around offering to correct English spelling and grammar mistakes on signs and menus in exchange for a small payment. In Japan it is common for women to hire out their thigh as an advertising space! They are paid to wear a temporary advertising tattoo on their thigh for one day, the only rule being that regardless of weather, they must wear a skirt/shorts. There are also apparently vending machines in which women can sell their dirty underwear, but I can’t say that’s one I’ll be trying. One of my favourite money-making ideas came from traveller Michael Wigge, who once set up a spot on a street in San-Fran offering people the chance to pillow fight in exchange for a few dollars. Very good stress release. I tried this in Milan, just out of curiosity, and make €150 in two hours. Particularly popular, I’ve found, between stressed out businessmen, and therefore I recommend saving this one for busy cities like London or New York. You can see Wigge’s top 5 quirky ways to make money while travelling here.

I’d love to hear how everyone funds their travels while on the move!

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Quirky Corners of the World: Setenil de las Bodegas

The narrow streets of Setenil de las Bodegas are set into a narrow gorge in the Province of Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain

Built along the narrow river gorge and into the gorge walls itself, Setenil de las Bodegas is an quirky little town in Spain, about 70 miles south-east of Seville. With a population of about 3000, people have been living in the narrow little ‘houses’ for years, though really they are nothing more than facades, the inner walls being those of the gorge rocks.

Ready made homes! Many of the houses are built into and under the walls of the gorge itself

This place is definitely on my ‘to see’ list. I think I’ll pop by on my way from Portugal to Morocco, apparently the restaurants are among the best in the region, famous for its olive oil, honey and jam.

Definitely on my ‘to visit’ list.

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Oddly Enough Lookbook

Jess Erica 1#

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I have recently been working with fashion student Erica Godfrey on her final collection. We have already had two photo shoots together, which can be seen here and here, and today, the third and final (though hopefully not too final) photo shoot took place.

We were lucky enough to find a great studio locally with large windows, which allowed plenty of natural lighting. Hanging fabric to create our own custom background, we focused on a very typical English, slightly Cath Kidston feel. Working with chameleon haired Jess, who was also one of the models of our test shoot, we spent the afternoon experimenting with draping, crafting, altering and layering a suitcase full of accessories to create just the right look.

The main purpose of this photo ‘series’ was of course for Erica’s final university project before her graduation, but I’m hoping that I have also helped her to get learn to ropes of photo shoots. I certainly seemed to have achieved in that sense. One month ago, Erica freely admitted to me that she had never worked on a photo shoot, or had any of her work photographed, but for a small home studio with her own camera for her online shop, as is the case with most independent designers. Now, however, she has experienced three very different fashion shoots, and I have watched her confidence grow with each as she has styled our models with an expert eye for detail. It’s been lovely working together.

Jess Erica 2#

Jess Erica 3#

Jess Erica 4#

Jess Erica 5#

 

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