#UnsplashExpedition Challenge — 001

Follow Me

Follow Me

Our very first #UnsplashExpedition Challenge is inspired by the famous back of one our favorite Unsplash Photographers, Joshua Earle.

An #UnsplashExpedition is a monthly photo challenge to inspire you to get out there and try new things. A new challenge will be shared on the first Wednesday of each month.

This January, we challenge you to capture a shot of yourself, leading the way on an Expedition of your own. Bring us on an adventure and share your experience using #UnsplashExpedition on social and when submitting your photos to Unsplash! Be sure to add the tag because if you do, we might feature you on Instagram ;)

For some inspiration, visit the collection. Read on for advice from the photographer who inspired us.

We interviewed Joshua to get some technical advice on taking a ‘follow me’ shot. He was kind enough to give us some tips on the gear he uses, his inspiration and his creative process.

Why are you inspired to take photos with yourself in the shot?

I started to develop a passion for storytelling through photography. Looking to share my adventures in a way that people couldn’t grasp with just a simple landscape shot. There are lots of beautiful photos of beautiful places that can really catch your eye, but I think there is something special and relatable when you see a human standing in the frame and actually experiencing that moment. It makes it real. It gives a sense that it could be you in the photo. That one day you could be the one to see and experience the same thing. But also for me it captures a scene that in a way can’t be repeated. It’s my unique experience of the place and time that the photo is being taken. And I guess that’s it. I keep taking photos with me in them as a way of telling my story. To remember special moments. But also to encourage people to go out and start making their own.

What is your go-to-gear for this type of visual storytelling?

When I’m traveling I use the Canon 5DS R with the Canon EF 24–70mm f/2.8L II Lens and a small tripod. That’s usually all I have with me! I’m often backpacking or traveling very light so I can’t lug around heavy kit. I only take what I need and try to make the most of the moment with what I have. It does simply save hassle without having to carry around more stuff but I think it also challenges my creativity with the photos. Working hard to get something unique and different in every shot even though I have limited equipment.

What is your process for setting up the shot so that you and your environment compliment each other?

I’m always looking for layers in the photo. Interesting foreground. Unique subject. And then finally beautiful landscape. It’s like reading chapters of a book. Letting the story develop as you get further into it and captivating the reader. I’m always keeping an eye out for any feature rocks or cliffs that will help lead into the photo and draw your attention deeper into the shot. Also I think my best photos are always at sunrise or sunset. For obvious reasons, but it’s important that I time my trips well to be in the right place at the right time. Often I scout for locations earlier in the day to then go back in time for the sun rising or setting. It adds so much more emotion and drama to the photos and makes my job a lot easier when nature does it for me.

One of the hard things with these kind of photos must be nailing focus, do you have any advice?

It is quite a challenge getting the photos right every time. I usually spend a large amount of my time taking photos without me in them first. Checking, re-framing, making adjustments, before I ever go into the shot. Once everything is set I’ll start experimenting with the same photo but with me in it. It can take many attempts, especially if you’re like me and using a ten second timer. Running back and forth checking and checking again. But the main thing is to keep going until you’re sure. Too often I’ve gone home without realizing I’ve completely missed the shot because I rushed off before checking it. It can also be very difficult when it gets dark. It’s harder to know if you’ve got the focus right or if anything is in focus at all! When I’m shooting stars the focus is either set to infinity or I focus it on the brightest light I can see, usually the moon or a VERY bright star. Sometimes when I’m shooting my silhouette, to help make sure the focus is perfect I’ll light up the foreground with a torch and focus on where I’ll be standing before I take the shot. That’s how I captured this moment.

Do you have any suggestions for someone that is taking this kind of photo on their phone?

I know that most smart phones have timers now too. If I did start taking more photos with my phone I’d get myself a little tripod and pretty much follow the same principles as above. It’s amazing what’s possible with a bit of creativity and modern technology!

And the last piece of advice is from me…

Don’t forget to use the hashtag — #UnsplashExpedition

Many thanks to Joshua for his words of wisdom. Looking forward to seeing the adventures you all take us on this month.


Unsplash Expeditions are coming to your hometown and we need you to lead them.


Want to say hello? Shoot an email to alice@unsplash.com or join me on Slack.