Travel Photographer Lara Christie
LARA CHRISTIE AND THE LAUNCH OF
THE 'LEAN IN' COLLECTION
As well as being an advocate for the great outdoors, Lara Christie is a successful travel photographer and creative researcher at Getty Images. We caught up with her to discuss her incredible travel photography and her involvement with Getty Images launch of the LeanIn Collection; a photographic library devoted to showcasing powerful images of women and girls.
Can you let us know what Lean in Collection is and your inspiration behind it?
Getty Images launched the LeanIn Collection in early 2014 in partnership with LeanIn.Org, the women’s non-profit founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The collection is curated to depict powerful imagery of women and girls and celebrate a realistic and modern view of women.
We believe that images matter. They influence our view of society, and change our expectations of ourselves. The more we can seed the world with images of females leading, acting with boldness, and being comfortable in their own skin, the more normalised these ideas become. I want to be part of a world where every female knows that she has limitless potential and value beyond her appearance, and these brands are helping to raise awareness and raise the bar. This is why we partnered with LeanIn.Org to start our own collection of images that break gender stereotypes.
Have you found lots of images of women in the outdoors being included in the collection?
Absolutely. Women, like men, are adventurers and explorers. Although historically imagery has depicted women as relaxing peacefully on the couch or looking after their children while making dinner, this is often not the case. The modern woman is outside living her life to its full potential. Whether it be camping, hiking, sky diving, farming, running or skateboarding – women have been active in the outdoors for a long time and it’s great to be able to share images that reflect this.
What change are you hoping will come from this new project?
Since we launched the LeanIn Collection, it’s been amazing to see more and more brands use images of vital, strong, females. The more we celebrate and support these brands, the more likely we are to see female-forward messaging adopted on a wider scale.
Continuing LeanIn is part of a global tilt toward becoming a more inclusive world overall. It's about shifting attitudes. We’ve been seeing similar things happen with images of people of different ethnicities, sexualities, physical abilities or ages. The idea of what’s deemed “acceptable” is broadening rapidly. The next chapter of this is undoubtedly what’s starting to happen with the rising visibility of the transgender population. Inspirational people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have brought so much education and awareness to the issue of gender acceptance. We’re already starting to see this community embraced, with compelling visuals and messages about love and normalcy replacing negative perceptions and messages.
What are the most popular images searched for in the Lean Collection?
What we’ve found is that search terms around women have increased dramatically in the last year. It’s great to see that celebrating powerful women and telling their stories isn’t a passing trend, it’s a paradigm shift. Over the last three years we have seen a monumental spike in searches for “female business executives” and in the last year alone, searches for “empowered women” have increased by an incredible 772%.
You’re also a photographer, where’s been your favourite place to photograph?
Nepal, absolutely. It is a country that conjures ethereal images of the Himalayan Mountains, Everest, Hindu and Buddhist temples. For some, Nepal is a spiritual pilgrimage. For others, a challenge to the limit of human endurance in the face of the world’s highest peaks. Undoubtedly, an intrepid destination.
I specialise in cultural portraiture and am drawn to religious iconography. I loved the architecture of the temples, the prayer flags, the prayer wheels, the monks and nuns. I found the people captivating and they were the focus for a majority of my work. I was astounded by their kindness, compassion and patience. But it was the Himalayas that was the crowing piece for me. There is nothing like it. To truly immerse yourself in the landscape, amongst those towering mountains, the glacial rivers, huge ancient trees, and quaint hillside villages, it humbles you and puts everything back into perspective. There is nothing quite like it. Nepal is truly a special place.
What’s your most fond travel memory?
Cartagena, Colombia. I had the wild and adventurous idea to sail from Panama to Colombia. However this adventure turned into quite the wild and dangerous ride as we sailed directly into a fierce storm. A three day journey turned into a week. Water spouts, cyclonic winds, a tiger shark encounter, going overboard, and monstrous swells of 40ft-50ft. Perhaps it's the dichotomy of my extreme journey and the exotic destination that adds to the appeal, but Cartagena is just magic. Filled with colourful Spanish Colonial Architecture with billowing bougainvilleas hanging from the balconies, it hums with the rhythmic soundtrack of salsa music to the beat of Caribbean drums. Paired with fresh Caribe food, rum, fantastic company and cobbled stoned charm, Cartagena unquestionably is my happy place. But don’t just take my word for it, it is a place to be experienced, if only once in your life.
What is it about photographing that you love the most?
Travel and photography have always gone hand in hand for me. I am lucky enough to have travelled to some wonderful places in the world. What resonates with me, long after I have returned home, is the stories of the people I encounter. The diversity of lives and the different perspectives leave me so much richer. Each portrait I have taken, tells a story. It’s those stories that contain the universal notions of love, sadness, joy, adversity, hope, loss and courage that reminds me of our humanity, how connected we all are.
What advice would you give to anyone that’s keen to become a travel or outdoor photographer?
The most important advice I can give would be to shoot what you love. Your imagery will find it’s own visual aesthetic. Follow your instincts, learn from others, be generous with your knowledge, be patient but always remember to be persistent, explore, observe and always, always, be kind.
Who are some of your favourite photographers?
The photographers that inspire my work are endless, but notably those who are influential on my works are Richard I’Anson (my mentor), Nick Brandt, Christopher Anderson, Art Wolf & Steve McCurry.
When you’re not photographing what do you like to do?
Although I am usually not far from my camera on my adventures, I love the outdoors so I am often by the beach, hiking or exploring the hidden gems around NSW. I love staying up late so I can shoot the stars. Just being around nature, pine forests, rivers and costal tracks is where I am happiest. This weekend I am grabbing some friends, a Jeep, and a tent, and getting out of the city and exploring the Blue Mountains.