How to leave everything behind and start from scratch.

Lis Kanzler
Inside Mapify
7 min readApr 22, 2020


Captured by the amazing Hugo Grandcolas.

Today, we have an incredible guest with us: Hugo Grandcolas! Apart from being a freelance photographer, a world-class content creator, and a traveler from the heart, he also has a very powerful story to share that will hopefully inspire all of you. The story of his new life.

In short, Hugo made the decision to do a 360degree change of career in order to pursue what his heart was most aching for: being a photographer. So, he listened to his intuition, and that’s exactly when the adventures and kilometers on the road started. Keep on reading to find out more.


Hey Hugo, first of all: tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from and what do you do?

Hey Lis, my name is Hugo Grandcolas and I’m a passionate French outdoor photographer in my late twenties. I’m not that classic landscape photographer with a tripod in its hand, but rather take spontaneous pictures of real moments, without any planning. That’s my style.

Oh really? How come?

Because with time I have learned that the weather — or simply your own life — can be so unpredictable! Many times I have planned certain pictures in the past, sometimes even months before!, and when the day arrived nothing seemed to happen as imagined. In situations like this, it’s easy to get trapped in a negative state of mind or even lose your creativity! Instead, I like to simply wake up in the morning, go outside and see what I can work with that day.

That makes a lot of sense and your point of view is very interesting! Tell me, what is your favorite part of landscape photography?

Across the years, I’ve tried different aspects of landscape photography. I’ve tried reporting my journeys, wildlife, shooting at night, aerial shots, and, of course, commercial work. I have definitely enjoyed many of them, but for me, nothing beats an adventurous night outdoors where I can let all my senses be awakened by the magnitude of untouched nature. In fact, that is the pattern across all my pictures: I always try to make nature come alive. I want people to be impressed by the fascinating world we live in and make them understand that they need to do anything possible to save our nature!

Incredible, I love that! You seem very passionate about the planet we live in. Would you say traveling is something that has always been part of your life, even as a child?

You might be surprised, but actually… no! As a child, I used to always go a lot to the forest, hike up small summits and enjoy outdoor activities. When it came to traveling, though, I barely made it two times to Venice and south of France.

That was it!

Wow! So when did this change?

Well.. long story short, when I was around 25 years old, I was in a really bad position in my life. I felt bored, trapped and somehow disconnected to myself. After 5 years of going through this dark phase, I decided to do something very spontaneous that eventually changed my life! I rented a car for a weekend and drove more than 2000 km in less than 3 days. The more I drove, the more I felt that my problems were drifting away, too! Suddenly, I felt as though I had found my personal therapy. From this moment onwards, I decided that all the money I had, I would spend to keep on discovering the world… and here I am, doing so!

What a story! I’m a traveler too, and I also feel that my desire to keep on traveling the world will never stop. What about photography, Hugo, was that something you always knew you wanted to pursue as a career?

My passion for photography started pretty much at the same time as traveling. It’s unimaginable for me now, and I am sure most of you will laugh at this, but I was that typical tourist who took pictures with an iPad! Once I started traveling, I also began posting pictures on Instagram and it became my new hobby. I started watching YouTube videos to learn how to properly use photography gear and began working 6 days per week, during a few months’ time, until in July 2016 I had finally saved up enough money to buy my very first camera. I set myself a goal: I really wanted to become good at this!

“I set myself a goal: I really wanted to become good at this!”

That is a very touching story. So, what did you use to do before becoming a freelance photographer, then?

I used to work in an electrical engineering company as a sales technician. But I quit to become a full-time traveler and landscape photographer.

It’s incredible how your life has changed in the last years! Why did you decide to quit your corporate job?

If I’m honest, I actually liked my job as a sales technician. My colleagues were great, the job was interesting, but as a whole, it didn’t feel quite right. Then, only two years after starting with photography as a hobby, I got invited to exhibit 3 prints at the 2018 Photo Fair in Paris. To my surprise, something else happened too: I got asked to join an important project exclusively for french artists, while at the same time, National Geographic featured me in their international landscape photography contest. This was a groundbreaking moment for me. I kept on asking myself: “I have everything I need right now, but is it everything I want?” Four months later, I was, so to say, ‘jobless’.

For how long have you already been a freelance photographer now?

I started freelancing as soon as I left my work, so 1 year now. Before that, though, I had already been practicing photography for more or less 4 years.

And what is it that most fascinates you about landscape photography?

I love the mountains. They are intriguing to me because when you look at the peaks, they are often not the same. Depending on which road you take, you can get confused by them, even at times when you think that you know an area pretty well! That’s the magic of landscape photography for me.

Do you ever regret the decision of quitting your job or think about going back into a corporate lifestyle?

Yes and no. I don’t regret the decision because it was my own choice and I knew about all the consequences I would have to cope with. It’s not always fun and easy, especially if you compare it to a stable job and secure income. Nevertheless, with all the gained experience, my past accomplishments, my community on social media, and the contacts I have made so far, I now have a lot more reassurance in regards to my work as a photographer, the monetary outlook for the future and my overall success.

All shots captured by Hugo Grandcolas

Tell us a bit more about the transition process. From your experience, what was the hardest part about changing your career path?

The security. It’s important to understand that with such a drastic career change, you go from a stable life, to something completely unknown. Money is clearly the hardest thing. It’s difficult to find paid contracts or sponsors for projects when you are just starting with photography.

Looking back at it, what advice would you give yourself if you could?

Stop stressing yourself out for nothing!- With time, I have learned that everything works itself out if you simply stay motivated and work hard towards it.

So true! I am curious, Hugo, after quitting your job…what was the first thing that you decided to do? How did you real adventure start?

To be continued

If you are enjoying Hugo’s story, we encourage you to be a bit patient. The second part of this interesting and powerful interview will come out next week. Where did his adventurous journey lead him, which are his biggest lessons learned and where is he now? All answers coming very soon!

To follow his journey, make sure to check out his Mapify account and engage with his Instagram content, where he shares his day-to-day life on the road!



Lis Kanzler
Inside Mapify

An intuitive digital nomad. Going wherever the wind takes me and working on exciting projects along the way. #momentsthatmatter