We sat down with one of Instagram’s top Canadian travel influencers, Brayden Hall, to discuss his journey to becoming a successful travel photographer, tips for taking the best hiking photos, plus an insiders’ scoop on where to travel in Indonesia (hint: it’s not Bali) and more.
Needless to say, we were truly inspired and are sure you’ll be too. See what Brayden has to say, below!
What triggered your travel bug?
It all started on a 6-month backpacking trip throughout Latin America 5 years ago! While travelling through South America and Central America with my best friend, I absolutely fell in love with travelling.
I saw some of the most beautiful things I had ever seen and had some of the best experiences of my entire life. When I got back home to my desk job all I could think about was travelling: Where to go next and… how to never have to work at my desk job again.
I started hiking every weekend with my friends and exploring my own backyard in Vancouver, Canada. Soon, I started bringing my camera. One thing led to another and I fell in love with photography.
After trial and error and a crazy rollercoaster ride, I got to where I am now. Being a travel photographer is my full time job, but the reason I do what I do is because of how that very first time I went travelling made me feel… And how travelling continues to make me feel.
You’ve travelled a lot through Indonesia, so we figured you’d have the inside scoop on the country’s best kept secrets. Outside of the popular island of Bali, where else in Indonesia do you recommend travellers go?
Haha ohhhhh Indonesia! A lot of people go there thinking Bali is the most amazing place in the country, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, Bali is a great place to hang out, have some beers and crush a smoothie bowl or two, but my absolute favourite spots in Indonesia are on the Islands of Flores, Komodo, and East Java.
Flores is home to beautiful tribal villages and massive multi-coloured crater lakes filled with sulfuric acid. In the Komodo Islands, you can well… walk with the man-eating Komodo dragons, snorkel with manta rays and visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the world all in the same day. On East Java, you can visit the volcanic landscape of Mount Bromo, visit the fuming Ijen Crater and find some of the largest and most dramatic waterfalls on Earth.
Indonesia is absolutely amazing, and if you choose to go, I highly advise you don’t limit yourself to just Bali!
Your Instagram feed features some of the most incredible photos and videos of hikes from all over the world. Care to share some of your top tips for taking a good hiking photo (e.g., your favourite gear, best time of day to shoot, etc.)?
Well at the core of it all, going on hikes is one of my favourite things to do! It’s what helped trigger my travel bug. A lot of the time, the further you hike, the better your chances of finding crazy and unique views.
The majority of my images are taken at sunrise and sunset. This means you will have A LOT of early morning wake up calls to reach the location before the sun comes up. You’ll be hiking in the dark with your head lamp… and my personal favourite, .you’ll get to camp overnight in beautiful locations.
Below is a list of my essentials when going on a hike and taking photos:
- Camera: Sony a7R ii and a couple of lenses
- Danner hiking boots
- DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone (if it is legal to fly in the location I am visiting)
- 30 L daypack when going on a day hike
- 65L overnight pack when camping
- 2 person backpacking tent (the Hubba Hubba by MSR is great)
- 3L hydration pack
- Arc’teryx Alpha SV Rainjacket
- Lightweight hiking pants
- Snacks! LOTS of snacks!
We know you’re passionate about the environment and so are our readers. What do you think travellers can do to make a difference? In other words, how can people do their part while they explore the world?
I try my best to reduce my impact on the environment when I am travelling but I get it, we are all human and sometimes it’s really hard! Some of the easiest ways to make a difference while travelling include the following:
1. Get a reusable water bottle: This is the EASIEST way to reduce your impact on the environment. You can fill up your water bottle pretty much ANYWHERE in the world. Even in countries where the tap water isn’t drinkable, you should be able to find purified water you can fill your bottles with for free. This will stop you from buying plastic water bottles every time you’re thirsty.
2. Try your best not to use single-use plastic: The plastic problem in our oceans and around the world is getting worse each day. It might not feel like you’re making a huge difference… But every single time you don’t use a straw, a plastic water bottle, or a plastic bag you’re doing your part to help save our planet.
In a lot of places around the world, even when you have a recyclable piece of plastic, the recycling infrastructure is too poor to actually recycle it. So again, grab a reusable water bottle, get a metal or bamboo straw OR just say no when someone offers you a straw and bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping.
3. Obey the signs when on hiking trails and in parks: There are signs put up in parks around the world telling people to stay on the trail or not to go to certain areas because of fragile ecosystems. It might not feel like you are damaging something when you walk off-trail alone, but when hundreds of people start walking off-trail on the same path it starts to severely damage the fragile areas you are walking on. So please obey the signs! They are there for a reason.
Of all of the cities you’ve visited in the world, which one surprised you the most and why?
Cusco, Peru is definitely one of my favourite cities! Cusco blew me away with the friendly locals, the cheap markets, the playful llamas and alpacas in the street, and the AMAZING mountains/ancient Incan ruins you can visit inside and outside of the city. It’s seriously just such an epic place!
Brayden Hall is a Vancouver-based travel, lifestyle and adventure photographer with an insatiable hunger to explore. From the epic peaks of Patagonia to the lush tropical beaches of Indonesia, you can find him searching for his next adventure.
In 2014, he set out on his first backpacking trip throughout Latin America. It was there he realized his passions for travel and creating content. Since then, he has been exploring his vast and beautiful backyard that we call British Columbia. On his travels, hikes and adventures Brayden has accumulated a large social media following and has gained ample experience working with a plethora of brands, departments of tourism, and businesses.
Brayden strives to excite and inspire others to see what this world has to offer.