How to Get Companies to Pay You to Travel: My Story

A couple times a week I get a message on Facebook, Instagram, or through email from someone asking questions about how they can get their upcoming trip sponsored, like I have.

My friends/significant other and I have been planning this trip…love to travel…take pictures…have fun…inspire…video…et cetera–how do we get a company like Merrell or EnerPlex to sponsor us?

Sponsorships are kind of like mermaids. They’re never seen and often talked about. So let’s talk about sponsorship for a trip.How to Get Companies to Pay You to Travel: My Story

There are two types of sponsorship:

  • Product
  • Monetary

I’ve seen lots of people get sponsored on a product level. It’s awesome not having to pay for a product/service you need and you’re saving money. Getting sponsored on a monetary level is tough. Unless you have a big following, you have to prove yourself and stand out from the rest.

Companies need to see a return: Companies see this in 1 of 2 ways. They A.) expect you to leverage your massive following to show off their product/service. B.) They believe you have a special set of skills (photography, videography, writing, etc.) that will supplement their marketing/advertising efforts.

In order to qualify for Scenario A, your social media following usually has to be on par with, or larger than the company’s.

BIG travel is king: Everyone goes on weekend trips, sometimes weeklong trips, and occasionally trips that last a month or two. Hardly anyone dedicates their life to travel. If you’re willing to dedicate the next year or two of your life to traveling, your chances skyrocket. But you have to prove that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do with or without the help of a company or two.

In order to prove to companies that you’re doing this trip with or without them, you need to self fund it first. It took Adam and I two years to save up what we thought we’d need to buy a van, build it out, money for the year, and a little extra on the side in case something happened. It wasn’t easy; we lived at home, worked our normal jobs while picking up freelance gigs, and every extra dollar we made we put into savings. When Merrell and EnerPlex came along, they just helped make our yearlong road trip even better and have in some ways certainly made our live easier than what they would have been.

You’re not getting paid to go on vacation: When you get your trip sponsored, it all of a sudden turns into a job and is no longer a vacation. Granted your job is way awesome to brag about, but you’re going to constantly be on the lookout for ways that you can fulfill the promises you made to your sponsors. You might even find yourself working while you’re traveling.

Don’t expect to get paid right away: Think of it as dating. Usually you want to get to know someone, go on a few dates, introduce them to your friends and family, and then maybe you make it Facebook Official. That’s usually how long-term relationships happen, at least in my case. Hardly ever do one-night stands turn into any long last relationship. Expect to actually get to know a company over time. Work with them on a product level for a while and interact with them on social media.

The industry’s small: Every industry is small. Do a stellar job and over deliver to your sponsor(s) and other companies may take notice.

You can just travel: Being sponsored and paid to travel’s great and all. But you can still travel because you love it and believe it’s what’s best for you and the best way to spend your time.

Getting sponsored to travel doesn’t happen overnight. It’s helpful if you’re already active within the industry and have made some connections in one way or another: social media, working with PR companies, working directly with brands, meeting others in the industry at trade shows/conferences, etc. Perhaps sharing my story could help shed some light on the topic.

Here we go:

I’ve always loved to travel. My parents showed me from an early age that it’s best to collect experiences rather than things. My dad went to a lot of conferences for work when I just started walking and my brother was a little baby. My dad got to bring my mom, my brother, and me along and to this day my mom tells people that I could basically find our seats on a plane by the time I could walk. It was fun, my mom made it a game, kind of like “Hide and Go Seek.” As Adam and I got older we’d take family road trips to visit extended family in North Carolina and snow ski, down to the Keys to snorkel and fish, and in 2010 my mom insisted the 3 of us guys start going on an all guys surf trip.

We listened to her.

One day my dad came home from work and told Adam and me that his book publisher somehow found a way to see a baseball game in every stadium with some friends one summer in college. Oh and they got sponsored to do it. About that time I had just started The Weekend Warrior and Adam was getting savvy with a camera. My dad threw out a challenge to us, get some companies to sponsor our annual all guys surf trip. That epically failed, Adam and I didn’t really make an effort, but if you’ve seen The Bro’d Trip website or watched any of our vlogs, you’ll see that we’re not doing this alone. We’re working with some companies on a BIG level and they’re helping make this yearlong road trip better than what we had originally imagined.

I’m sure every traveler has a timeline about how they got their career started and eventually got companies to sponsor their trips on a product AND monetary level. This is my timeline:

  • April 2012: Boss tells me I’m a terrible writer and shouldn’t focus my efforts on writing. I start The Weekend Warrior to practice my writing skills and give others some motivation to get out and enjoy their own hobbies outside of work, school, family life, etc.
  • Summer 2012 – Fall 2013: Continue working at a job I don’t like, have awesome adventures outside of work, and meet a whole new batch of online outdoor bloggers and freelance creatives.
  • October 2013: Go on a fun 9 day road trip with my girlfriend and climb with friends that are on the tail end of their yearlong road trip. Girlfriend is enamored with this life and begins pestering me about quitting my job when she graduates college in 2 years to take off on our own yearlong road trip.
  • December 2014: I succumb to her pestering. We begin saving.
  • March 2014: Girlfriend dumps me, for good reason, and I decide I still want to do this road trip. Talk my brother into doing this year on the road with me, after he graduates in December 2015. We’ll write about it and share photos while on the road and make a documentary about our year on the road when all’s said and done.
  • Summer 2014-Summer 2015: Continue working my desk job, pick up freelance writing gigs on the side, and lose out on a social life. Going out with friends becomes a luxury. My dating life becomes virtually nonexistent. Adam continues to go to school, wait tables, and work at a surf camp over the summer.
  • July & August 2015: Put together a proposal to send to companies that we think will take an interest in what we’re doing and align with our vision. Lose our sh!t in excitement when companies actually approach us and want to work with us.
  • September 2015: Quit my job. I give 6 weeks notice because they were nothing but stellar to me for the past 4 years. Everyone at the office is excited, jealous, and somewhat confused at what I’m doing.
  • October 2015: Buy a Sprinter Van from a nice retired couple in Rhode Island and begin building it out.
  • November 2015: Continue building out Sprinter Van and have my last day at work.
  • December 2015: Finish building out Sprinter Van, throw a going away party for all our friends and family, and move stuff into storage unit.
  • January 2016: Hit the road for a year!

I should make known that a life and career centered around travel isn’t always glamorous, at least it isn’t for me. One night I got chased out of a site I wanted to call home for the night and didn’t find another site until 10:30pm. As I sit here writing this, I smell terrible. I’ve lost track of how many days it’s been without a shower, have only worn deodorant on one of those days, and changed clothes yesterday for the first time in over a week. Today my diet has consisted of a couple granola bars, a banana, and a sandwich. But I did spend the better part of the day rock climbing with new friends, taking photos and video, and that’s pretty cool I get to call that work.

If you’re interested in reaching out to a company to help support your trip, here are a few tips that might help:

  • Stand out from the rest: See “BIG travel is king” above.
  • Solicit your skills: Are you a baller at editing, take stunning photos, have a way with words, or have some other marketable skill? Use that to your advantage!
  • Put together a proposal: Companies get pitched all the time (hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day). Make your proposal stand out from the rest; your proposal is the best way to show off your marketable skills.
  • Follow up: Be persistent without being annoying. Getting your foot in the door’s one of the toughest things to do and chances are that your proposal won’t do the trick. Follow up with the person (or info email account) you sent your proposal to let the gatekeeper know you’re serious and deserve to speak with the decision maker.

Parting thoughts

Do the work first, build an audience, hone your skills, show your value, and prove that you’re different from the tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands that have the same dream. Demonstrate that you can provide an ROI (return on investment) to the company. Do all that and then maybe a company will have the confidence to invest in you and give you the creative freedom you want that will ultimately benefit them and their bottom line.

Be great at all this and maybe you’ll have companies vying to work with you. I’ve only very recently realized this and am constantly learning more and more about this career every single day.

Go Explore – Because It’s F*@3!ng There

For quite a while now I’ve wanted to visit Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta Canada. It’s hard not to want to go to either of these places once you’ve seen the pristine aqua lakes on social media with no one around. Now that I’m here, I hate it. I’ve barely taken any photos and I want nothing to do with these parks. I just want to drive away as fast as possible; and that’s exactly what I did.

Truth be told, I knew it was going to be a junk show at the waterfalls and lakes I wanted to see. I’m willing to put money on it that everyone else there knew they wouldn’t be alone either. So why is it that even if we know a place is going to be overrun by fellow tourists we still go to these picturesque places? And I’m not just talking about Banff and Jasper National Parks. I’m talking about Horseshoe Bend, The Wave, Yosemite National Park, and too many other places to name.Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park taken by Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior

How does the image that’s attached to this post make you feel? I hope it brings you calmness, maybe a little wanderlust, a sense of being there alone, and some need to explore all mixed in. If this photo made you feel any of those things “Perfect!” that’s exactly what I was going for when I took the photo.

What you’re not seeing or feeling from the photo is the family standing right next to me. The kids are being loud and obnoxious, yelling things back and forth to each other in a language I don’t understand while the parents are taking photos of each other to once again prove they were there. This photo, among so many others, has told you a lie. I wasn’t alone, it wasn’t quiet, calm, peaceful or any of those things you may have felt by looking at this photo. And that’s because I went to a place that was easily accessible. Behind me is a parking lot filled with cars and I took the stairs the park service built down to this spot.

When asked for the hundredth time why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, an annoyed Sir Edmund Hillary responded with “Because it’s f*@3!ng there!” We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to have a reason to go out and experience nature, explore. It has to be to land a shot, get a story for a blog or news site, get in a work out, find some treasure, et cetera. But it’s never to explore because it’s f*@3!ng there.

When’s the last time you went on a hike that wasn’t listed as one of the most beautiful places in your area? Or took a different route on your drive home. Or surfed a new break? Or climbed a new route because it looked fun? Exploring isn’t all that hard, but we hardly fulfill our natural born instinct to explore. Instead we think there needs to be a reason or there has to be an accomplishment.

It’s been said that the right thing to do might not always be the popular thing to do and the easiest places to see might not always be the best places to see. With easily accessible sights, you’re going to find access issues in the form of crowded parking lots, trash all over, congested walking paths, selfie sticks getting the shot, and long lines to use the bathroom. There’s something to be said for going out to areas with less foot traffic. While you might want to get that feeling of calmness and being alone at that one beautiful lake you saw on the Internet, you won’t be alone. Everyone else has seen that same photo, wants to get that same photo, and wants to feel what that photo on the Internet made them feel but this time in real life.

Though the location may not be as iconic you’re going to get what you seek when you head out to explore more unknown areas. Crowds will virtually be nonexistent, it’ll be quiet, parking won’t be an issue, and there are plenty of trees to choose from when nature calls. Others might not understand why you’re not going to that picturesque place, but you’re just going to explore for you and it’s none of their damn business, and that’s all that matters.

There’s no real reason to explore, other than it’s fun. You should try it again sometime. Go explore – because it’s f*@3!ng there.

9 Reasons You Should Never Go Backpacking

Neither of my parents are into backpacking, therefore I discovered backpacking on my own and started going without them suggesting I go. Since then I’ve taken backpacking on trips in the southeast, out west, and in Alaska. I love it, but that doesn’t mean you will. In fact, here are 9 reasons you should never go backpacking.

Adam Fricke backpacking in Denali National Park

9. Animals might attack

Fact: animals are more afraid of humans. 90% or more of the time they will run away shitless from a human making it tough for humans to see some awesome wildlife, like bears. On the off chance an animal attacks you, the news will be sure to exploit the entire incident because the news is always unbiased and never tries to provide entertainment. 

8. You have to wear the same clothes every day

Remember the days when you were little and wanted nothing more than to wear your favorite t-shirt or pair of underwear for like a week straight, but your parents wouldn’t let you? Backpacking is kind of like being a kid again, but instead of getting to wear the same clothes day in and day out, you have to wear those same clothes day in and day out. We all know that adulting is awesome and that reliving your childhood is a bunch of living in the past nonsense.

7. There aren’t any flush toilets

I don’t know how anyone managed to squat over a hole and do his or her business. Sitting down is so much easier, and better for your health. Those people in Asia that still squat don’t know what they’re missing.

6. Your entire day is a workout

Commuting to and from work, working 40 hours a week, spending time with the family, watching the suggested amount of 5 hours of TV a day, and somehow finding time to sleep leaves no time for a work out during the week. It’s such an exhausting schedule that you probably ought to take it easy on the weekend. Carrying everything you need on your back for miles on end is tough work, kind of like a workout, making your entire day a work out.

5. The cell phone signal might be terrible

You know how much you love getting work related calls over the weekend? And how you’re just dying to go out to the bar with your friends for the third time this month? If you don’t have your cell phone within signal range, you might miss out on getting that call from your boss asking you to come into the office at 6:57 am on a Sunday without the chance of overtime pay and dropping a couple of Benjamins at the bar with your friends and going home alone, again.

4. What if the weather sucks?

Yea, what if it does rain or snow or just blow some wind around? What are you supposed to do, keep hiking because the only way out is by foot? Thanks to rain gear and your lightning sprinting speed the last time moisture outside of the shower touched your head was while you were on the way to your Psychology 2 your sophomore year of college. Thank goodness because you need to look and feel like a million bucks all the time, even in the backcountry. And why would you ever bring rain gear? I mean where are you going, to be a deckhand on one of those crab fishing boats in Alaska?

3. You don’t have the right gear

The only tent you have is a 2 person Teton Sports tent your friend said you could borrow a sleeping bag you once bought when you toured Europe, and a backpack from that time you took a month long vacation to Thailand. You need to go out buy some brand new stuff that’ll set you back at least $2,300. Ask Lewis and Clark who set out to explore the American West, they’d recommend you buy a brand new set of gear for your weekend backpacking trip.

2. No one wants to go with you

Tent companies make single person tents for fun. No one goes backpacking alone. Tent companies just want to make those single person tents for the fun of it, even though they lose money on them every year because no one buys them because backpacking is something that has to be done with a minimum of 2.5 people.

1. You might learn that less is more

Only packing what you need? Giving up a time to go out and buy a new pair of shoes or a watch or a dope hat you’ve had your eye on for months that’ll totally fulfill your life when they all fall to the back of your closet and instead choose to carry what you absolutely need on your back for a few miles between campsites? Never.

2 Dudes 2 Spoons 1 Pot

As we were loading up to go on a backpacking trip, Michael asked us an honest question “Do you guys share a spoon?” To conserve on dishes and pack weight, he and his girlfriend share a spoon and eat out of the same cooking pot when they go backpacking. “Nah man, we’re not into that” I responded and we all laughed.

That backpacking trip with Megan and Michael fell through because of rain, but my backpacking trip, with Adam, in the backcountry of Denali National Park last week went off without a hitch. As we were packing and getting ready a couple hours before the bus came to whisk us away into the backcountry, I looked at Adam and asked “One pot or two?”camping and cooking with 1 pot in the backcountry of Denali National Park

Now we could’ve taken two pots or fancy backpacking plates and bowls so we’d each have our own to eat from, but that’d add unnecessary weight to our already heavy packs and take up precious space in our packs. We opted to go with one pot. With that one pot we’d cook and eat from it, together. Instead of turning our backs or eating at opposite ends of the river, we’d sit there across from each other eating from the same pot, but with different spoons.

Sharing with one another has never been one of those easy things to do, at least not for Adam and myself. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe it has to do with us trying to identify as two separate dudes that come from the same parents, or maybe we’re afraid of the other breaking what we feel is ours, or maybe it has to do with us wanting our own space. It might be a mixture of all those things rolled into one. But sharing a pot where the other’s saliva may get mixed in with a bit of food the other’s going to eat is one of those things we’d have to put behind us if we didn’t want to deal with extra gear.

You’d think that we’d know each other pretty well by now. I mean we’ve lived together for 24 years and of those 24 years, 7 of those months have been in a van. But the more we’ve traveled this year, the more we’ve realized how little we actually know about each other. As the year’s progressed we’ve both found ourselves wanting space, time alone. I think that’s normal, for us. Our conversations have become rudimentary at times and when the other’s not driving the other’s usually texting or checking the social media news, escaping life for a few minutes. Sure we’ve grown together, but in some ways we’ve also grown distant.

Take all forms of entertainment away and you’re forced to find new forms of entertainment. We hiked through bear country together being loud and talking. We only brought one can of bear spray, so we had to be around each other all the time. And the only way to get food from onto our tiny shovels and into our mouths was from the same pot.

As much as I wanted to have my space it was nice to talk to my brother sitting across from me at dinner again. It was almost like the family dinners we had with our parents every night when we were growing up. But it’d be nice to have a bigger rock to sit on next time.

Don’t Drive the Alaska Highway

“You’re funny, sir.” 

This time I wasn’t thrilled to hear someone telling me I’m funny. The lady at the Watson Lake Visitor Center in Canada’s Yukon Territory wasn’t laughing, didn’t show a smile, not even a smirk.Justin Fricke on an unpaved section of the Alaska highway

I had been driving from Squamish in British Columbia Canada up to Fairbanks Alaska with my brother. This was day three of driving and by this point I was ready to be in Fairbanks and exploring Alaska. I had asked how much longer it’d take us to get to Fairbanks, I thought it’d take 10 or 11 hours. The lady at the visitor center, on the other hand, thought I was kidding and informed me that between swerving around potholes and slowing down for ice heaves, we also had to deal with road construction delays. And it’d realistically take another 20 hours.

She said it all in a tone like “You’re crazy for driving the Alaska Highway.” That’s not the first time I heard something like that. For about a year when I’d tell someone I’d be going to Alaska this year and driving the Alaska Highway it was always met with “I can’t believe you’re doing that!” and “How much spare gas are you taking?” and “I know some who did that a year or two ago. Had to replace all their tires, that road’s terrible!”

All those reactions from people made me wonder if Alaska was even feasible. That is, until Adam and I met Dennis in Texas this past February. Dennis is a retired man who drives an older Sprinter Van than ours around the country with his cat, Cathy, and rocks a license plate from South Dakota that reads U 4 JESUS. When we were done comparing build out notes, I asked him if he’d ever been to Alaska.

“Sure have, I love Alaska!” he said.

“And did you drive the Alaska Highway?” He looked at me with a little grin and said what I’d been waiting to hear.

“The Alaska Highway ain’t shit! Not since they paved the damn thing.”

The Alaska Highway is a highway like no other. It’s long days of dodging pot holes and getting a crash course in how to drive over something you never knew existed until a few hours beforehand, like an ice heave. But the reward for keeping your car on the road are beautiful sights, stopping to take pictures of bison, skating small bits of the deserted highway, listening to Harry Potter books on tape, and having conversations with your brother that you haven’t had in a long time.

The next day we rolled into Fairbanks. It didn’t take 20 hours, it only took 10 hours from Watson Lake. To be honest, it wasn’t really that bad at all.

We never came close to running out of gas. Gas didn’t come anywhere close to costing $6+/gallon. The drive wasn’t terribly boring and we didn’t die! It was fun.

Looking back on it all, I find it kind of funny that I worried about driving the Alaska Highway based on what others told me. All of whom had never driven the Alaska Highway themselves.

Take advice from someone who’s actually driven the Alaska Highway. Preferably more than once. If you’ve ever thought about driving to Alaska, go drive the Alaska Highway. That’s what Dennis told me in Texas and I’m glad I listened to him.

The Unity of Pokémon Go

I caught on to the craze a little late. In fact, I didn’t learn about Pokémon Go until I saw it pop up in my Facebook News between seeing updates about the numerous shootings going on.

Never have I ever seen the world so captivated by a video game. EVER. As of the time of this post being written, the app has over 7 million downloads! It’s causing users to get outside and hunt forPokémon so they can catch em all and users are buying portable chargers so they can play the game all day. It’s nuts!The Unity of Pokémon Go

Our country, and the world, has seen a lot of madness these past few weeks. Orlando’s still recovering from the biggest mass shooting in United States history, dozens of civilians have died in Iraq, we’re set on escalating a race war, and the lives of men and women wearing the blue badge are at stake even more than before. Saying we as a society have become divided would be an understatement, but that’s what we’re going with right now.

I was watching Casey Neistat’s Pokémon MANIA video on YouTube and there was one scene that stuck out to me. When asked why he’s playing the game, a gamer said that it’s communal. He didn’t know anyone he was hanging out with until that day and he met one other person the day before. They all were different races, but they’re hanging out and talking like they’re lifelong friends.

Their race didn’t matter

Pokémon Go has done more for us than any peace organization or speech from our elected leaders. It’s brought people together (an almost impossible feat) and has given us a small escape from the tragedies that have occurred. The game has had a calming effect on all of us. The social media posts have slowly shifted from hate to happiness. People are being social with each other, no matter the color of their skin or their language. We’ve been given a reason to talk with each other and we’re taking that opportunity without even knowing it.

I love mocking this game. But I also love whatPokémon Go has done for the world. And if it takes a new twist on a game that I played when I was in the 3rd grade to bring a calm and unity to the world, I’ll take it!

Blink 182 has a new album out andPokémon is the big game being played right now. What year is it again?

The Great American Road Trip

I open the Facebook app. on my phone and scroll through my feed. It’s how I get caught up with my previous life back in Florida. My friends post about their lives: the start of a new career, a baby just entered the world, one’s going back to school, looks like a wedding’s coming since a couple just got engaged.

My thumb taps the new Instagram icon revealing a plethora of photos. That burger and beer looks way better than the half packet of flavored rice and can of chicken I just inhaled. There’s a rope swing and a natural water slide in British Columbia? I’m bookmarking those spots in my brain, those places look awesome to visit on the way to Alaska. Oh look, Chris Burkard just posted another stunning photo of Iceland. Iceland looks rad, maybe I’ll go there one day.

Social media’s my form of entertainment on the road. It’s also my newsfeed at times. I’m lying, it’s my newsfeed almost all the time. I was born in 1990, I’m 26 years old, I’m a millennial, a millennial that makes a living by traveling. I’m the prime target for travel companies. I see a lot of the same ads you see on your newsfeed. The ones telling you and me that it’d be rad to visit Thailand and experience the little cities by vespa, that the climbing over the aqua blue water would feel incredible, and that I can eat cheap street food for every meal; as long as I can afford the flight there. Europe looks amazing in those ads too. I’ve had some friends visit Europe. Some of them did a study abroad program, others taught English as a second language, a few were a nanny to some rad kids for a summer, and then there’s a few that lived out of their backpack for a week or two; maybe even a month or two. They all tell me I’d love it there and I don’t disagree.

These travel ads have a way with altering perception. They do a terrific job at telling you and me that we need to go to another country to experience something amazing. Staying stateside in our own backyard is boring and that the only way to really have an adventure is to travel to another country, if only for a week or two.

Last week I was in Bend, OR for a few days. Bend is east of the Cascade Mountain Range and still part of the high desert. The days were sunny, the air was dry as the desert is, and it was warm during the day and cool at night. Adam found this awesome swimming hole called Blue Pool. It’s the most crystal clear blue body of water I’ve ever seen in photos and in person. You’d think we found it in a forest in Southeast Asia, but we barely drove an hour west into the Cascade Mountains and hiked two miles from the gravel parking lot to go swimming.Adam Fricke doing a swan dive into Blue Pool on a road trip

We kept driving west for a couple more hours until we were stopped by the edge of a jagged cliff with the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rough Central Oregon land. The temperature plummeted by 20 degrees and the wind carried little particles of salt from the ocean down below onto the land. Trees with different hues of green leaves surrounded me as I walked along the trails of the coastal forest.Road Trip view from Yachats Oregon

A couple days passed and I was walking along the cobblestone beaches of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park along the coast of Washington. Back in Florida it was in the 90’s with high humidity on the 4th of July. And here I was walking around the Pacific Northwest fog wearing jeans and a hoodie watching fireworks across the jetty crack in the sky.Justin Fricke on a road trip through Rialto Beach

Everything’s so different than the place I left back in January. I thought I’d seen it all in the southeast, but come to find out that the southeast was my safety bubble. There’s so much more to see and experience outside of our safety bubbles and it turns out that you don’t need to own a passport to see something you’ve dreamt about seeing in photos or meet someone incredible along the way.

I want to visit every country in the world. I think there’s a lot of merit in meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and how the rest of the world lives. But did you know that there’s such a thing as Fry Sauce? I didn’t, they have it in Idaho, and it’s delicious.

So What? The Nifty Fifty Story

I bought a 50mm prime lens when I bought my first DSLR camera. The Nifty Fifty’s a staple in the bag of most photographers. I shot with it for a little bit and to be honest, hated it. Too much of my images got cropped out and I just never liked my images. My go-to has been my 24-70.Justin Fricke in Yachats Oregon, shot with a nifty fifty

The last time I attached my Nifty Fifty to my camera was in January. Adam and I were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the greyness was optimal for a Nifty Fifty, but I hated it. I blamed it all on the lens. Nothing I wanted was in the frame, it wouldn’t focus well, the images looked terrible in my eyes, etc. I took off the lens and put my trusty 24-70 back on.

I think we tend to do that when something doesn’t go our way or turn out the way we want. We lay the blame on something else, make excuses, and hide beneath the covers and wait for the perfect situation to arise.

The weather sucks, the sleepies won’t leave the eyes, creativity isn’t flowing that day, there’s too many people, it’s too late in the day, or it’s too cold in the early morning hours. Those are some of the excuses I tell myself a lot. I think that’s fear talking and I’m trying out this new thing. I’m facing fear head on and I tend to win.

Winning’s fun and it can be addictive at times. I’m probably a lot like you when I say that I hate to lose. And for me fear tells me that I’m going to lose. It’s easy for me to want to stay inside my bubble and never face the day, hack away at a to-do list, never try something new, never grow as a human being. That’s easy and it’s easy to convince yourself to do something because it’s easy.

I’m trying out this thing called “so what.” So what if the weather sucks, if I’m not feeling creative, or if someone might wander into my bubble. I mean it can’t get any worse, right? It can only get better. If we step outside our comfort zone we take the risk of growing. Sure we might fail, but so what?

Last week I made it to the Central Coast of Oregon. The late afternoon sun was shining through the trees along the side of the cliff and the lighting was absolutely serene. I was by myself and wanted to take a stab at some self-portraits.Oregon Coast Trail shot on a nifty fifty

Landscape and action shots are usually my go-to, and it shows on my Instagram, but so what? My Nifty Fifty accumulated some dust, but so what? I took it out of my bag and set up some shots that I thought would look cool. And that guy that was going to settle for mediocre and not experiment with a new shot because fear said otherwise? What an idiot.

23 Easy Ways to be a National Park Jerk


painting on a rock in the Alabama Hills

  1. Take up lots of parking spaces at the Visitor Center with your compact car
  2. Leave food out and attract all the animals
  3. Take your massive RV on narrow roads
  4. Don’t hold the door open for the person behind you
  5. Walk 3 or 4, maybe 5 wide, on a trail
    1. Then walk really slow and hold up foot traffic
  6. Accidentally hit someone with your selfie stick while selfieing and don’t apologize
  7. Audibly complain about all the tourists; you’re not a tourist
  8. Stand too close to a crumbly edge
  9. Play your music loud on the trail; everyone wants to hear it
  10. Tell everyone how stupid they are for using technology
  11. Hold up traffic while admiring the wildlife
  12. Run up to and try to pet the wildlife
  13. Put a bison calf in your car because it looks cold
  14. Keep your dog off leash
    1. It’s better off running around off leash
    2. This way it doesn’t have to take a s#!t on the trail
  15. Never walk on the safety of boardwalks that keep you from falling into boiling hot, hot springs
  16. Tell as many strangers as you can about how many National Scenic Trails you’ve thru hiked
  17. Stand really close to the person in front of you, heavily breathing down their neck, while waiting for the shuttle bus
  18. Fart on the shuttle bus
  19. Risk your life and go anywhere to get an awesome photo for the gram
  20. Cut someone in line while waiting to use the bathroom
  21. Complain audibly loud about the terrible cell phone reception
    1. Make a non-emergency phone calls, because YOLO
  22. Build a new fire ring anywhere you want, we always need new scars on the land
  23. Enhance and create “art” in our natural spaces

Don’t be a National Park Jerk

You Can’t Change The World

There isn’t much music I like. Pop punk where the standard dress is skinny jeans and the median age of listeners is 14. And white boy rap, though I’m not sure that’s the politically correct terminology. Towards the top of that list is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I wasn’t really a fan of these guys until their latest album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. There’s one specific song on the album I’ve been listening to religiously this year and I think it really hits home after the events that unfolded in Orlando this past weekend.Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park

You’ve probably already heard by now that Orlando was once The City Beautiful and now has the mark on it as being the city where the worst mass shooting in United States history occurred. Orlando’s an underdog city, Orlando will bounce back, and Orlando’s still The City Beautiful (you can read more about that here). In the wake of this tragedy it seems like we’re all jumping to make a difference; we want to change the world.

You Can’t Change The World

You’re too small, I’m too small, we’re all insignificant. If we all had our own agenda to change the world, we’d all be fighting the battle alone. It kind of goes along with that saying “Too many chiefs and not enough indians.” Again, probably politically incorrect, you get the idea.

In a song to his daughter, Macklemore tells her to: find what she loves, do it every day, and eventually the world will change. Think of it this way. If you’re in a relationship it probably happened like this: You were searching profusely for Mr./Ms. Right and eventually gave up. But when you gave up you decided to spend more time with yourself and you became a happier you. In that time you probably learned to put your guard down and then Mr./Ms. Right came along and proverbially swept you off your feet. And if Mr./Ms. Right literally swept you off your feet, I’m jealous.

Doing what you love puts you in a loving mood. And love is contagious. Chances are, when you’re doing what you love, you end up helping someone else find what they love or invite them to join in on whatever makes you so obnoxiously happy. Basically you show someone else love. And showing love to someone is the easiest way to change the world.

“…Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love and do it every day. Do that for the rest of your life and eventually, the world will change.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis