Wandering far and wide with a camera in hand, Emilie Ristevski is an Australian photographer and the creative mind behind @helloemilie. Her dream-like imagery and meaningful storytelling has led her to all corners of our planet, from remote villages in South America to the wild landscapes of Iceland and Namibia. Emilie’s focus on sharing the importance and fragility of our planet is what resonates with us most, encouraging her community to seek a deeper connection with nature, in hopes that we all discover a profound love for the beautiful planet we all call home. We had the chance to interview Emilie and learn more about how nature inspires her work, her perspective on traveling consciously in these crucial times and more.
Where is home?
Home will always be Australia, somewhere between the mountains and the ocean. I grew up in several different areas along the east coast of Australia, but in someway was always surrounded by nature. This is where my love and connection to the natural world first began.
Why should Australia be on our destination wish list?
Australia is full of endless diversity, from the desert outback to the untouched beaches and tropical rainforests, the snowy mountain ranges and all the wide open spaces in between. There is an endless list of destinations I have yet to experience and each time I explore somewhere new it feels like my wish list keeps growing!
Tell us how you got started as a travel photographer?
I’ve always had an innate love of creativity. Growing up I experimented with different art forms and mediums—painting, drawing, ceramics, anything where I could create and let my imagination become tangible. My love for photography first started years ago when I discovered black and white film photography in a tiny dark room. I remember the moment I saw my first photograph develop in the chemicals right before my eyes, I was immediately fascinated and it opened up a whole new world for me.
Focusing on travel was never intentional and while studying design at university I always imagined myself somehow in the design world. However photography was always something I came back to and I fell more and more in love with the process behind creating imagery and the ability to tell stories.
“My work is about finding the beauty in our world and I am always looking to find ways to conserve and capture the things that often go unseen.”
Describe a defining moment in your career.
A defining moment in my career is something which is happening this year! I recently released my debut photography book, Forever Wandering. It’s been a labour of love over many years and such an overwhelming feeling to know people will be able to hold my book in their hands and be transported to the hidden wonders of our world through my photography. Forever Wandering is a visual insight into our natural world, telling a meaningful story of how we can find a deeper connection with our universe and ourselves.
When are you most creative?
For me creativity definitely comes in waves. Depending on the type of project I’m working on my process is always different and I find that my inspiration and productivity comes in ebbs and flows. I am most creative when I am surrounded by nature and have had time to let my mind wander within our natural world.
Who and what inspires you?
My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. I often find most of my inspiration in unexpected places. When travelling, I love discovering hidden stories that have been passed on, or all the little details which are often disregarded or forgotten.
My work is about finding the beauty in our world and I am always looking to find ways to conserve and capture the things that often go unseen. Inspiration can be found from the way light moves across the sky, a place, a scent from my childhood, a plant, an old book, a walk in the mountains, a swim in the lake or a certain song. I have always been infatuated by light and the ability it has to change everything from setting the mood to telling a story. The combination of these natural elements and the way we have little or no control over these things is what is inspires me the most be able to create and capture beautiful fleeting moments.
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow.
Favorite place in the world to watch the sunrise / sunset.
Namibia—A place which holds an embodied spirit and a transformative land that glows deep reds and burnt oranges as the desert transforms with light.
Favorite road trip route.
I love taking the road less traveled, driving off the beaten track to places I’ve never heard of before. It allows for time to appreciate the smaller details and capture the unexpected things I never knew could exist. Surprisingly some of my favourite images have been captured spontaneously. I am constantly seeking out these moments in-between that you can’t always plan for. By chasing light and following weather, my road trip route is often determined by nature and its unpredictable ways.
Most magical hotels and AirBnb’s.
Travel / carryon essentials.
A notebook and a beautifully woven scarf. Wherever I am in the world these two things bring me comfort. A travel note book to let my thoughts pour out onto paper and a scarf to keep me warm, especially on board.
“The connection I have formed with nature and travelling throughout our natural world has taught me to keep an open heart, to live with less and to always find gratitude in the smallest of things.”
Where are you dreaming of traveling next?
I do have an ever-growing list of places I am dreaming of photographing one day and I’m drawn to more remote destinations—Places like Bolivia and Mongolia are high on my list. That said, I’m not in a rush as I’m actually really looking forward to slowing down and exploring more of my homeland. I envision lots of road trips throughout the outback and to more of the unknown destinations throughout Australia.
Best advice for living like a local when you travel.
Connect with locals in anyway you can, try to support local businesses or smaller boutique accommodations or guides who will be able to connect you with authentic experiences and most importantly give back to the local community. My favourite travel memories always seem to involve the incredible locals I’ve met around the world.
How do you travel lighter and more consciously?
There are lots of practical tips you can consider to travel lighter, from packing less, carbon offsetting and supporting responsible companies. Although more recently I’ve been forced to reassess the why and the reasons behind our choices for traveling in the first place. Travelling in general is a privilege and feels like it has become more accessible than ever before, so I think we are in a time where it’s crucial to be conscious of our travel choices and the impact they have. I’ve been able to work with clients who specifically focus on sustainable tourism, in hopes of inspiring people to be open minded and consider our choices from a new perspective.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has allowed me the opportunity to experience things I could never dream of. Always being in motion, I’ve learned the importance of being present, taking time to slow down and the capture moments that surround us. The connection I have formed with nature and travelling throughout our natural world has taught me to keep an open heart, to live with less and to always find gratitude in the smallest of things.
How do you embrace slower living?
I’m still learning how to slow down and ways to live more mindfully and sustainably. I try to keep in mind all of the aspects in my day to day that are truly meaningful and add value. By deepening my connection with nature, I began to see how the tiniest of things can create ripple effects and how so many of us exist without recognizing how inherent nature is to us. Aim to be conscious of the things we consume and look for ways to find a path that treads lightly—Whether that means living with less, sourcing local produce, understanding life cycles and the impact of our choices. My focus more recently has been to allow myself to sit still for a while, to be able to work on more meaningful projects that are close to my heart.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
Slow mornings, waking up with the sun over the ocean, drinking tea and reading in the sunshine.
Finding time for myself each and every day, even if it’s only a few minutes with a cup of herbal tea or lighting a scented candle, a short walk in nature, writing down my thoughts and reflecting on what I am grateful for.
Philosophy to live by.
Be mindful, live slowly and stay wild.
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