EXPEDITIONIST Ambassador Brent Weber Talks Photography & Being a Conscious Adventurist
Meet Brent Weber, a Virginia-Native, Nashville ex-pat with a keen eye and a thirst for explorative travel and the human connection that comes with being immersed in another culture. Through his beautiful imagery and his outlook on the global travel movement, we felt that he perfectly embodies the qualities that make a true #EXPEDITIONIST. Read his story below and see why he has is our newest Ambassador.
What drew you to want to start a career in travel photography?
I think nearly anyone could see the romantic appeal of travelling the world, exploring new places, and capturing thought-provoking images of the landscapes they see, the people they meet and the culture they experience. For me, it’s not only about the fulfillment that comes with seeing and experiencing all the different parts of the world, but it’s also about uncovering the authentic feel and aura of a place, of a culture, or community - and to share that feeling with others through a photograph or the story a group of images tell.
What is the appeal of explorative and immersive travel for you?
Experiencing new places is not only fun and fulfilling, but it’s incredibly enlightening. I always feel that after an adventure I come home having learned so much. Explorative travel introduces me to so many different worldviews, and it opens doors that I never knew were there. There are so many incredible places and people in this world that all tell their own unique story. Being able to truly connect with people in an immersive way allows me to learn about those worldviews and the relationship they foster with the place they live. There is always a give-and-take relationship in that sense. With each different place I travel to, I feel as though I learn more about how each person affects their local community, and also how each community has an effect on its people. The more I travel, the more I learn, and the more I learn, I feel as though it allows me to bring the lessons I learn back home and have a better impact on my own local community.
How do you connect to the places you travel?
I don’t think there is any one specific way to do this, nor any wrong way. It largely depends on the place. But mainly, as much as I love to go to the touristy mainstays of a city, I find the most enjoyment from venturing a bit off the beaten path and exploring places to find their hidden treasures. And by hidden treasures, I not only mean finding a great dive-bar, or the best restaurant you’ve never heard of before but also not being afraid to meet new people! Meeting strangers just means making new friends, and there’s no better way to experience a new place then by getting the recommendations of a quirky local. All in all, I think it’s important to be spontaneous, to not be afraid to turn down a street you’ve never been down or to venture into a place you’d maybe not normally find yourself. Because there, that is where you’ll find the most interesting people that can connect you with equally as interesting locations.
Is there any one place in particular that resonated more with you than others?
Each place I go to certainly leaves its mark. But there are a few places that really feel like home, and I continually feel drawn back to. Here in the US, I feel that way about Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. I grew up going there a good amount as a kid, and anytime I venture back there, I immediately feel as though I’m back where I belong. Another place I feel drawn to is Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The natural beauty out there is breathtaking, and in the same vein, I feel at home when I set my feet up on that mountain, and I always have a hard time leaving. In my international travels, Tonsai and Railay Beach in Southern Thailand were absolutely amazing and were places that I could have stayed for much longer than just a short vacation. They are usually on my mind when thinking of places I want to go back to because of their amazing beauty, easy-going culture, and access to other incredible parts of Thailand. Overall, I yearn to find places that feel like home, and I’m sure that there are countless more places out there that will make me feel that way - and is another reason why I love packing my bags to experience new places and meet new faces.
Which cultural encounters have surprised you the most in your travels?
I was incredibly surprised by the kindness and hospitality I felt while travelling through South East Asia, specifically Thailand and Indonesia. The culture there is incredibly warm and welcoming, and the locals are willing to go out of their way to make sure you feel welcomed. All of my hosts were so accommodating, and considering that they didn’t have much themselves, it really taught me a lot about charity, and how little materialism should matter. At the end of the day, it’s not about how big your home is, not the kind of car you drive, it’s all about how you see and treat others.
What makes you a #EXPEDITIONIST?
I think the most important part of travelling, going on an adventure, or planning an expedition or really, life in general, is to do it with intention. Going to a place and being along for the ride is one thing and it's all good, but if you go looking for a certain experience, or with an intention to learn and grow from your travels, I believe that will give you the most fulfilment and enjoyment out of travelling. In most things I do, I try to take a step back beforehand and ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” or “Why is this important to me?” Typically with travelling, it is about seeking the true meaning of the new place to which I am venturing, or even uncovering unknown stories about places I go to frequently. If I truly go into a new adventure with intention, then I am confident I will learn something new and improve my worldview in one way or another. And I feel like that’s what makes me an #EXPEDITIONIST.
Is there anyone you look to for inspiration and motivation?
Yes! Absolutely! There are so many amazing people and travellers out there that give me inspiration in many different ways. Without going into an exhaustive list, I really admire those that are able to live, travel, and experience life in a minimalist fashion. Two people that I constantly find inspiration from are Forrest Mankins, and Brianna Madia. Both of these people basically live out of their vehicles and are accepting that their imperfect life on the road is good enough for them. I also love the kind of stories they are able to tell. Forrest’s images largely surround nature and epic landscapes, while Brianna is an excellent writer, storyteller and activist.
Any advice you can give to others wanting to follow a creative path?
I would say that it’s incredibly important to listen to your heart and to acknowledge your desires to follow any path that calls to you. And if you know that your heart’s desires come from a place of peace, love, and self-fulfilment then, by all means, you have to follow it. Of course, as easy as it sounds to say to quit the 9-5 grind, it’s incredibly important to prepare yourself and continually grow your skills as an artist, and as an independent thinker. It can take months, years, or even decades to refine your skills and truly find your niche and passion, but again, if your intention comes from a place of authentic and genuine love, then all of the time and effort that goes into it will be worth it.
Want to become an EXPEDITIONIST Ambassador? Send us an email here, and we'd love to get in touch with you!
All images: Brent Weber