I figured that you all must be getting a bit sick of just hearing about me and my comfort zone challenges, so I’ve decided to introduce a new series of blog posts called Cold Shower Heroes.
Cold Shower Heroes are people who are embracing the Cold Showers Are Good For You philosophy of doing things that scare them and constantly redefining their comfort zones. With this new series of posts I am going to introduce you to some of those people.
The first person I want to introduce you to is Alex McGregor. I’ve known Alex for a while now, hmm, actually around his whole life… Alex is my brother, but even if he wasn’t I would still want to feature him on this series as he is a freaking legend. Until recently Alex was working in IT on a mine site in outback Queensland. A job that gave him some great opportunities but wasn’t something that really ‘lit him up’. Knowing that the mine he was working at was drawing to a close and that a redundancy was likely in his future Alex started to see it as an opportunity to do more of something he loves. Alex is a photographer and he is about to embark on a trip all around Australia. But as you will learn from our interview, he is doing things a little bit differently, and he wants to get YOU involved.
So Alex, what is the concept behind ‘You Choose My Adventure’.
I’ve wanted to do a trip around Australia for ages, but I wanted it to be a bit more spontaneous than just planning it out, driving around and posting a few photos on Facebook. Then I remembered reading about a guy called The Dice Man, who pretty much lives his life by the roll of a dice. I didn’t want to go to that extreme so I thought it might be good to get everyone I know involved in getting me around Australia. So I came up with the idea of basically getting people to vote through my website. Each week I’m going to post a list of three locations or adventures on my blog and then get people to vote on where they want me to go. For the one that wins I’m going to do a video from there about that place and what I get up to. And then I post another poll for people to vote on for the next place.
How long is your trip going to be?
I’m starting off in Tasmania and that will probably be for just under 2 months, then I plan on doing the rest of Australia – depending on where people want me to go – but I don’t really know how exactly long the whole trip will be.
What part of this trip do you feel is you getting outside of your comfort zone?
Partly the idea of leaving it up to chance, but probably the biggest thing is that I won’t have a ‘job’ for the next maybe 12 months. Not having a regular source of income is a scary thing because I have been working solidly ever since I finished school back in 1999. I’ve been working for 15 or so years full time, so this will be the longest period of time I haven’t been working. The fact that I have to live off my savings and my work as a photographer is a bit scary.
Tell us a bit more about your photography work.
Well probably about 5 years ago or so I picked up a proper camera. I basically bought a decent camera (digital SLR) before I went to Nepal to do the Everest Base Camp trek. I’d always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it so I just started playing around. Then the more pictures I took the more people would tell me that I had an eye for it, so that helped my confidence grow and I started taking more and more photos and kept experimenting. Also being out at the mine I had heaps of opportunity to take some pretty cool photos and the mining company that I worked for actually started using my pictures for their publications and artwork in their offices. So I started tossing up the idea of becoming a professional photographer. Then when I got made redundant I thought I may as well just do it.
So is this trip about photography?
Well it’s about a lot of things – travel and adventure. But it is also about me pursuing photography in the only way I really know how. I mean I know I don’t want to do wedding photography but I don’t know exactly what I do want to do. I love travel photography and I really enjoy the technical aspects of photography – using the drone, taking time lapse, like doing star-trails and light painting and I’m getting more into doing videos. Anything that integrates technology into photography basically, which I guess makes sense given my IT background and love of technology. The trip will give me heaps of opportunity for that kind of thing.
It is often said that you should do what scares you most – does photography scare you?
Taking photos doesn’t scare me, but there’s no point in being a photographer if no one sees your work. And with people seeing your work they are instantly judging it and your creativity. So calling yourself a professional photographer you have to believe that people will not only like your work but be willing to pay you for it. So sometimes I wonder if my photography is good enough to call myself a ‘professional’ or more to the point whether people will be willing to pay me for it. But they have, and they do and that’s help me to start believing that I am good enough to be professional.
What has helped push you through that fear of not being good enough?
Just doing it. I know that makes it sound easy, but it’s just remembering that getting outside of your comfort zone is the only way that you get better. I mean once you push yourself to do something and then you do it you realize “yes I can do this” and then the more you do it, the better you get and for me the better my photos get the more opportunity I get and it goes from there. It’s basically a big positive feedback loop.
Are there any other fears or concerns you have about your trip?
I guess the idea of being on my own all that time means that I’m going to have to really put myself out there so I don’t get lonely. I mean I don’t consider myself to be a shy person, but I think I can be if I don’t push myself to meet new people sometimes. I don’t find it uncomfortable when I’m actually talking to people, but sometimes the anticipation of going up to people you don’t know makes me a bit nervous. I think heaps of people have that fear, a fear of looking like an idiot, or probably a fear of rejection. But the majority of the time I do it, that doesn’t happen – or even if it did I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with that kind of person anyway. Haha.
What would you say to other people who have fears or concerns about doing something that they love?
Look at the end of the day we’re all pretty lucky that we have food and shelter so for the most part your ‘safety net’ is about having support of family and friends, which I am lucky enough to have. I mean I am not an expert on getting outside your comfort zone but I know that if I don’t do this now then when am I going to do it? I kind of consider this to be something for my soul. I’d rather go out and have fun, push myself and try and work out what makes me happy than to earn heaps of money working in IT and be dead inside. I could easily go out and get another IT job in the mines but I need to give myself the opportunity to have this experience. Plus the worst-case scenario is that I come back after the trip and ‘all’ I’ve got to show for it is a whole lot of new skills in photography, videography, using my drone and other things. I think by the end of the trip I’ll have more real-life options than just IT.
What are you most excited about for the trip?
Probably the sense of freedom, adventure and of not-knowing. It is the sense of anticipation. Anticipation of discovering something that takes my breath away, something that stops me in my tracks and makes me go “Wow!”. I don’t know what it will be, but I know it will happen.
How can people get involved?
They can head to my blog http://www.dirtybootsphotography.com.au/blog.html to vote and check out my latest posts and videos from the winning location or adventure. Also you can find me on Facebook, Instagram and my YouTube channel.
I really hope you enjoyed this interview. If you did, please let me know and/or share it with your friends, fans and followers. And if you know any Cold Shower Heroes that you think I should interview, please get in touch. Until next time, check out Alex’s awesome video intro for You Choose My Adventure.