Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright Shares Her Best Travel Tips and the Top Challenges of Outdoor Photography

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright
Photo credit: Andy Mann

My name is Krystle Wright and I come from the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Although now I’m more so a global nomad as I haven’t had a home for the past six years and I write this email from the airport lounge in Perth, Australia as I am about to fly to Melbourne for my next gig.

There is no doubt that I have a very stubborn nature when it comes to my career and work otherwise I would say I am a fairly relaxed easy-going person. Thankfully because my career revolves around my lifestyle, I get to chase my favourite things such as skiing, freediving, and climbing.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright

How and why did you get into adventuring and traveling?

I grew tired of the life I had created for myself in Sydney and desired to see the world and what I could create for myself. It was a serendipitous moment when I was questioning how to leave Sydney when a friend called and asked me if I wanted to work in Antarctica. It was an easy yes and the perfect opportunity to move all my belongings back to the Sunshine Coast and take off overseas. I figured it was now or never to see if I could make this work as ultimately I know I can always go home and start again if it didn’t work out. I’d say the toughest thing for most people is giving up their safety net. The safety of having a routine and when you walk away from it all, its a daunting moment but one I’m glad that I took!

It’s been a challenge for me to find a routine that works with the excessive travel that I do. Often I’ve fallen into that trap where I say I am too tired from travel and have let my fitness slip from time to time. At the moment, I am trying a fitness app to help motivate me when I hit these tired moments in travel to keep my fitness up. Usually when I am based somewhere long enough, it’s a mixture of outdoor activities of swimming, running, climbing and whatever else I’ll be able to access.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright
Photo credit: Nickz Miller

How do you finance your adventures?

When I first began, I would use my personal finance to fund my adventures and travels. It’s a scary notion since I had no guarantee of an income after I left the newspaper world in Sydney, Australia. I would scrape together funds from being published in magazines or the occasional work I would pick up as I worked to extend my network overseas. I do not fund raise since I do this full time and I believe it is my responsibility to make it work rather than ask money from friends and family. These days, I have a big enough network setup that I earn a reasonable income to support the travel I do, ranging from editorial and commercial gigs with a variety of clients. Ultimately all I need is a WiFi connection and I can work from anywhere in the world.

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

It can be quite the challenge to eat well whilst constantly moving around. I believe in eating great food since food feeds the soul and I’ll venture out to find the right places where I can find what suits me best.

As for accommodation, it’s rare for me to book anything as traveling year round would mean a heft bill in renting hotel rooms. It’s a mixture of camping and sleeping in tents, hammocks or sleeping on friends couches or spare rooms and sleeping in my car. When it comes to camping, I use Big Agnes as they make great quality tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags. I use the Q-Core mattress always to sleep on. I believe at the moment I have the FlyCreek HV UL 2 mtnGLO and the Copper Hotel UV 2. Cooking wise, I use MSR WhisperLite!

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright
Photo credit: Claire Jane Carter

How do you bring your things with you?

I always carry my camera equipment and any electronic gear such as hard drives and laptop in F-Stop bags. I use the the Kashmir for a quick day pack, the Tilopa for bigger missions into the backcountry and the Florentin for my go to satchel for everyday traveling.

As for clothing and the bigger gear such as climbing or freediving, I have a range of duffel bags ranging from different brands thanks to photoshoots I’ve done including Osprey, Lowe Alpine and so forth. I wish I could travel light but the reality of doing adventurous activities and photography, I tend to be checking in 1-2 duffel bags and carry my camera gear on my back.

With any gear that I have, I want quality and to know that my gear is going to be protected and not have things fall apart on me when I take it through challenging terrain.

How do you organize things in your bags?

I always lay everything out before every trip. Perhaps it’s my perfectionist nature but it gives me the chance to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything as it never gets easier. I’m always impressed by the companies I get to work with as I feel their designs continually get smarter and efficient. I would love the chance to design a bag but, to be honest, I have enough occupying my mind as I want to be focusing on creating content and project and be out shooting!

Also, it’s important to have waterproof/water resistant bags! If it’s pouring down with rain or if you’re heading into tropical places or somewhere like the Pacific Northwest where it’s known to rain a lot.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright
Photo credit: Mayan Smith-Gobat

How do your bags and gear hold up?

I’ll admit I’ve definitely been guilting of way overloading a backpack but I’ve never had anything break on me. I remember this one situation in Alaska where we were shifting camps and it was the first time I couldn’t lift the backpack up onto my shoulders and had to get two of the other ladies to help me. All of us felt the crazy burning sensation in our legs as we skied down the glacier but once at the bottom, we dumped a whole lot of weight as it was just too much and we would pick it up on our way back to base camp. Ultimately, I chose to work with brands that produce high quality gear and everything has held up so far in my career.

I have been very much stoked with the gear I have worked with and wouldn’t change a thing even if I had the chance to start over.

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

No, as I said before, I’ve been very pleased with all my gear over the years. Sometimes I think I have brought too much camera gear as I love prime lenses but I am getting better at shedding camera weight when I absolutely must but I will always pack my 35mm prime or 24mm prime with a 24-70mm lens. The only time I miss something is guilty pleasures like a portable speaker or chocolate.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

Hmmm below $100… Actually you know one thing that I was recently stoked about was purchasing a travel bamboo cutlery set with To Go Ware.

I don’t want to be using one time plastic and with the amount of travel that I do, it adds up very fast. Along with the bamboo set, I have a YETI 10oz Lowball, which is like a metal cup because again, I hate the amount of plastic cups handed out on planes.

I love using Canon cameras/lenses. F-Stop bags for my camera backpacks, AquaTech Imaging Solutions for underwater housing gear for my camera, KEEN footwear like the Terradora, Targhee II Waterproof and some Uneeks, Goal Zero to charge my gear out in the field, and Bang & Olufsen for headphones.

What is your best advice for other adventurers?

A friend/mentor reminded me years ago that if I’m not having fun, then I need to question why am I really there. It sounds so simple but I remember this trip in New Zealand where a kite surfer had invited me on this trip to shoot images and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working out and aside from impossible weather conditions, the dynamic between us just wasn’t working out at all. Even though I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, I wasn’t having fun and my passion started to feel like work. It was a great lesson though in realising what my motivations are and remembering why I got into adventure photography in the first place.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright

What do you consider the hardest parts of adventure photography?

There are a lot of challenges to adventure photography and perhaps the toughest things are those that are out of your control such as the weather. Mother nature reigns supreme and it’s important to learn how to read your gut instinct and know when to walk away when things don’t feel right. I love working out in the field and not being able to control things such as I would in a studio. I love being challenged as I feel that is when I am working at my best.

The other challenge to note is working with athletes. Being an adventure photographer is a lifestyle rather than a job and many athletes I work with, I would say they are dear friends. There have been trips where the group dynamics haven’t been great but it has been a good learning curve in understanding how to put together a team and create a wonderful trip.

Adventure Photographer Krystle Wright
Photo credit: Andy Mann

What will the future bring?

Who knows what the future will bring but I’m going to keep working hard and continue to chase an extraordinary life. As for new adventures, I’m about to begin a lap around the world for three months and I certainly have plenty keeping me busy until mid next year.

Visit Krystle Wright on her website and follow her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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One Comment

  1. WOW! What an impressive, inspiring interview! I first saw the Krystal’s photo of the Totem Pole in Tasmania and read about what it took to get that shot. Amazing. I love the shot of her with all the climbing gear and the flippers.

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