The Art of The “Workcation”

Every time I travel I get asked, “Business, or pleasure?”

Often my answer is “Well… both.”

A puzzled look frequently follows.

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It took Ellen and I a few years to find the proper balance of a true workcation.  One that could satisfy both of our insatiable desires… the desire to be productive, and the desire to relax and recharge our proverbial batteries.

It’s not an easy balance for someone who loves what they do, and would be doing it whether he was getting paid or not.  That’s why every single trip I ever took when I was single was simply work.  But you see, that’s no fun for another person once they get added into the mix… maybe the first few times, but trust me, it gets old.  What might have started as fascination in the beginning, quickly turns to frustration, when your traveling partner seems to prefer working to relaxing and being in the moment with you.

And as most adaptations grow from necessity, so too did the invention and refinement of the workcation.

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Look, we’re not made of money here.  Work trips are our vacations… and vice versa.

So how do we find equilibrium?

Here are 5 important steps to striking the perfect balance between work and vacation, illustrated with images from our last Wyoming workcation…

1. Proper planning.

Nowadays, Ellen and I set aside specific days/ times on our trip to work.  With her starting a yoga business recently, she gets something out of it too… free marketing photos!  When there is a set, realistic schedule, both of us have very well managed expectations…. and those of you who are married or in long-term relationships know how important these are!

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2. Use what you have to your advantage.

I feel productive when I’m getting photos that I’m confident can sell.  That’s how I am able to justify all of the travel, if I’m not on a specific client’s dime.

So Ellen becomes my model… a lot.  As I’m sure you all have seen.

But it’s great because we can do the things we love to do together, like hiking, and I can spend a few minutes in between our quality vacation time, working, snapping sellable images.

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It’s also important to note that Ellen is particularly sweet and understanding that when extraordinary opportunities present themselves, work takes the front seat.

But don’t take advantage of your partner’s generosity.

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3. Know when to put work aside.  Be sensitive to your travel partners needs.  

As previously mentioned, my wife gives grace like a boss.  So it’s only fitting that I approach her with the same tender understanding.

It’s never fun to play second fiddle to work with a loved-one.  So know when it’s time to put the camera or laptop down and enjoy your partner.

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4. Enjoy your work so much, it is vacation!  

Be so passionate and enthusiastic about what you do, your travel buddy can’t help but want to be involved.

They may actually grow to love the process too.

But it must be genuine… manipulation will be sniffed out immediately!

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5.  Be realistic, schedule dedicated work time.

What Ellen and I found works the best, so I’m not too antsy to shoot the entire time we’re trying to relax and be “in the moment”, is really quite simple…

I schedule a week alone, to focus completely on work.  I either fly her in a week after I’ve arrived at a destination, or she flys out a week before I return.

That way, I always know that I have at least a full week of work under my belt already, or ahead of me.

And it allows me to relax.  Which makes the time more enjoyable for us both.

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It is rare that we take a proper “vacation”.  Part of it is financial, but another part is that we both really love what we do for a living.

So workcations are our norm.  And we like it that way.

They are tax deductible, and if you are careful, they are oh… so… enjoyable.

Here’s to 2015: a new year of workcations to nourish our souls and share with all of you!

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

WY // The Active Landscape

One thing I will most certainly be working on this year: active people within a landscape.

Though I have always considered myself a landscape shooter, I realized recently that in order to generate more sales in the nature/ outdoor photography arena, I need to begin incorporating people and activity into my landscapes.

And for me, the timing couldn’t be better.

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With the increasing assignments I have had the last few years, I have actually grown to enjoy photographing people… go figure.

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And I am ever more interested in the relationship people have to their surroundings.  How to visually convey a human’s relationship to a landscape, has become one of my favorite challenges of late.

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The icing on the cake:  there is a HUGE market growing for this kind of imagery, so it can be quite lucrative.  As a professional artist, I’m always looking for ways to continue doing what I love AND making the kind of living I want.

So, on this visit to Wyoming, Elle and I practiced a little active landscape shooting.  We realized a few things too.

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To keep the images fresh, realistic, and sellable, the gear and clothing have to be new and/ or current.  We realized that we need a few upgrades for the next trip :)

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We also realized we should shoot what we know.  Elle is a yogi, so we focused a lot on yoga poses in gorgeous locals.

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The key for me will be to keep shooting and keep adding people and activities to my landscapes… it’s a mental shift, but I really enjoyed pushing myself in Wyoming.

 

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014

 

wyoming | the bounty of autumn

it’s been said before that fall in the mountains is a magical time.

the leaves are changing, the temperature drops, and the animals are energized with hormones for mating season.

moose populations in wyoming are declining because of the growing wolf numbers, and i’ve been seeing less and less of them every year.  so i was really excited to see a huge bull with two cows at our campground one morning when we woke up.  the state has recently opened a limited hunting season for wolves.  there are at least two lawsuits in the courts currently, brought on by environmentalist groups to challenge the state’s new policy.

because of the close proximity of fires, the sunrises were often very hazy but quite colorful.

i spent many days out on the river road looking for bugling bull elk.  and i found plenty.

the bears were apparently out in full force.  fall is the time when grizzlies and back bear are fattening up for the long winter ahead.

and grizzlies, in particular, are emboldened by the fact that hunters are out in full force and leaving their kills’ guts in the field.  it can be a dangerous time.

but i didn’t even see one bear the entire month i was there… just lots of signs…

mornings on the river road were marked by bugling elk.  they lead their harems up from the snake river to the high plains to strut at the foot of the tetons.

the evenings brought about the reverse.  the bulls, some with new females won from rivals, made their way back to the safety of the tall grass, trees, and water along the snake.

bugling is one of my favorite sounds in the natural world.  and spending the quiet times of my mornings and evenings listening to the haunting tune of elk replenished my soul.

autumn is a time of beginning and end.  the leaves fall from their branches, but not before they take on colors rarely seen so bright in nature.

bitter cold wind blows in from the north.  but not without it’s gifts.  the cold air brings with it the desperately needed moisture to alleviate the wildfires with the first snowfall.

i long for this time of year.  i already miss it.  and i’m already planning for next year…

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming | the many faces of the tetons

my working title for this post originally was “l’obsession des tetons”…

you know, referencing western wyoming’s french explorer roots.

then, thanks to google translate, i quickly realized it was essential that i think of new title.

needless to say, i don’t speak french.

so last year, i had a photographic obsession with squaretop in the wind river range. this fall, i can’t believe i’m saying this, but i didn’t even visit green river lakes (where squaretop lives).

yes, it’s sad. but i was just too busy. i had a two hunts to attend, a ranch to shoot, lots of hot wings to eat in jackson, many pints to consume at deadman’s bar in signal mountain lodge, etc. so since most of my (very important) activities were near teton park, I decided to spend some much needed quality time with the beloved teton mountain range.

enter my newest photographic obsession.

it started the day we finished at the goosewing ranch shoot.

we had a burger and beer at deadman’s bar, then sat on the edge of jackson lake to watch a phenomenal sunset over the tetons.

i then ventured out on the river road, looking for elk.  and the interesting photographic opportunities expanded.  in the next blog post, i’ll show more of the elk photographs.

the clouds and smoke provided most of the drama for me.  but it is the landscape itself that always draws me in and keeps me coming back for more.

come on… you knew i had to.

a portrait with my subject….

more bull elk in the shadow of the mountain.

where the antelope roam…

i hiked to emma matilda lake for the first time.

and then, of course, oxbow bend.  there is good reason that this is one of the most photographed places in the world.  especially in the fall.

that night the stars were out in full force.  i could see the milky way stretching high above the tetons.

i’ve been going to this part of wyoming at least annually since 2001, which i know in the bigger scheme of things is not a long time.

but for me, it’s over a third of my lifetime, spending some of my favorite moments up there.

and honestly, i can’t wait to find out what gorgeous mountains will capture my obsession next year.

God bless wyoming.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming | summer in the parks

we ended our time at the goosewing and had a week or so to enjoy the scenery of wyoming.

i spend at least 3 or 4 weeks in wyoming every year, but i just never seem to tire of the land, people, and animals.

Elle’s never been to yellowstone, so we spent a few days up there, a few in the tetons, and then a few near pinedale, at soda lake and green river lakes.

it was too short, as always… but we had an appalachian adventure to get to.  so we’ll have to spend extra time up there in september :)

 

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming: panorama

i just finished a few panoramics from the trip, and thought i’d share…

the green river drift… my elle’s in there somewhere amongst all the cows and dust.

the view from my favorite campsite, upper green river valley.

beaver park, near the base of squaretop.

afternoon shower brewing in the tetons.  taken from the jackson lake dam.

side view of the tetons and jackson lake.

the winds river mountains from soda lake.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

wyoming: day 3 & 4 (a full-fledged squaretop obsession)

i’ve been admiring this view for quite some time now. if any of you know me, and/ or my work, then you’ve seen countless images of this mountain. i just can’t get enough of it.

i think Elle is under the impression that i might try to name our firstborn son (or daughter for that matter) squaretop slaton. that’s not the case… entirely.

but just as the title of this post suggests, i am a little obsessed with this giant slab of granite. at least photographically.

and for those of you that might be curious to know… yes, every single photo in this post has the distinctive profile of squaretop in it, except one.

so we woke up in my favorite campsite again… this time with some nice, dramatic clouds over the winds.

the green river was running high but glassy.

we decided to do an overnighter into beaver park… wait for it… at the base of… wait for it…. SQUARETOP!!

so we set off, with the handsome mountain (as i often call it) as our prize in the distance.

squaretop from the upper lake with an afternoon shower imminent.

the green was overflowing it’s banks at beaver park.

we set up camp very near the base of the mountain. the whole time, i was looking for just the right spot to shoot a star picture that night… think we find the right place… but i would have to wade out into the frigid overflowed green to get the shot i wanted.

the moon was out and slowly moving it’s way right over the plateau of squaretop.

elle enjoyed a front row seat as the moon jostled into position…

it was a spectacular sunset. couldn’t have asked for a prettier evening to spend with my best friend.

oh yeah, and my wife. haha, just kidding honey!

elle and i sat by the fire, under the light of the moon and talked about everything.

i really am lucky… my wife really is my best friend.

squaretop is only a lagging second.

and then, as elle fell asleep, i trudged out into the barely-above-freezing river, and planted my tripod for this 30 minute exposure.

it’s one of my favorites from the whole trip. that’s a pretty good looking model… i couldn’t have screwed that shot up if i tried!!

we woke up the next day with our quiet friend looming over us…

it’s hard to decide whether i like morning light or evening best on squaretop… or even just moonlight…

i guess i just like it all. like i said, i’ll never get sick of photographing the work of art that is squaretop.

we just had to get one last photo with our friend.

sort of felt like an awkward family photo with a shy uncle that just kind of hangs in the back of the photo not really connecting with anyone, unsure of whether he’s even in the shot or not, deer-in-headlights look on his face, and no one that’s actually in the shot smiling, even realizes he’s back there. you know?

but we knew. and if we had had big enough arms, we would have gladly pulled him in close and included him.

then it got creepy… he just stared at us as we kissed…

farewell old friend! i hope to see you again soon… perhaps october…

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011