Michael Gray makes travel photography seem effortless. His beautiful Instagram feed @mikevisuals boasts an impressive portfolio already if you don’t also consider his videography skills. You have to allow yourself double takes at every other near-surreal shots of places he’s been to. Case in point right here.
Mike is young – just 21! – but already has plenty of experience in travelling the world and in creating visual content that sends any wanderlust packing for their next getaway. What is it like, being a frequent flyer with a dream job? We find out from Mike himself.
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Looking back on the past year, I'm so grateful for the opportunities that I have had – mostly because they have facilitated improvement and growth. Life's syllabus isn't written or pre-determined but every day offers an opportunity to learn. I quit University one year ago and I couldn't be more sure I made the right decision – the world teaches you things a classroom can't🌏
Do you have a travel bucket list? What are the top items?
Yep, and it’s always growing! At the top is a road trip around America and French Polynesia.
Where are you travelling next?
I’m stoked to be heading to Australia next; it’s always awesome to travel to a new location.
Read also: How to spend 5 days at Margaret River
How much research do you do before a trip?
It really depends where I’m going. I often make use of the geotag feature on Instagram and save posts of locations I want to visit, and of course ask friends who have knowledge of the area.
Do you believe in itineraries or do you go with the flow?
Having an itinerary can definitely take some stress away from a trip but travelling and concrete plans don’t always go hand in hand together. Think weather, delays and other unforeseen circumstances. It’s key to factor in some flexibility and enjoy an element of spontaneity!
Do you prefer travelling alone, with a travel buddy or in a group? Who are your favourite people to travel with?
Travelling with a group is a lot of fun as you can get really creative. However, my favourite way to travel is with my girlfriend, Georgia. We work really well as a creative team and enjoy the same travel experiences.
What are some things you always pack in your carry-on?
My phone, laptop and noise-cancelling headphones.
What are three things you’ll never leave home without?
When travelling? My phone, camera and tripod.
What’s your packing strategy?
I use Douchebags for every trip. Inside goes folded bare essentials. I tend to under-pack.
Best advice you can give someone about getting through the airport?
Unfortunately, the airport process is just one of those things you have to grin and bear. Travelling with someone usually makes it seem faster.
How do you spend your time in airports?
Grabbing a bite to eat and editing.
Any longhaul flight advice?
I take full advantage of the rare opportunity to disconnect when flying. I usually chill and catch up on sleep; my noise-cancelling headphones are an essential for this.
Read also: How I travel: Emirates pilot Ignatius CK
Do you have a favourite airport?
Gatwick Airport in London has a Nando’s, which is a big yes from me.
Aisle or window?
What’s the first thing you do when you land in a new destination?
Charge all my equipment and make a rough plan for the days ahead.
What’s one place you’ll never tire of?
Home, there’s no better place to refresh for me.
Any tips for taking great photos when you travel?
To put it simply, a lot of work can go into one photo from the raw file to post-production and the final image. I love the colours from a Canon camera; a big reason as to why it’s my number one choice for photography. However, a camera, or lack thereof, shouldn’t hold you back – smartphones are producing better spec cameras all the time. To edit, I use Lightroom, Photoshop and on my phone, Snapseed.
What did you love about your recent stay at the Conrad Maldives?
I’m partial to an overwater villa and the ones at Conrad were great!
Do you shop a lot while travelling? If so, what kind of things do you look for?
I don’t usually have time but when I do buy items, they are usually food-related.
What’s your shopping philosophy when you travel?
As I don’t shop often, if I see something I like, I’ll buy it there and then.
Tell us about your experience at Conrad Maldives’ restaurants.
Ufaa is the island’s Chinese restaurant and the food was really good. The chef greeted the guests at the end of the meal which was a cool touch! It was also awesome to experience Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the world’s first underwater restaurant. Despite the rainy weather, the visibility was good and we saw a lot of sea life.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your travels?
Dim sum and BBQ pork is my favourite thing to eat. It’s the first thing I do when I land in Hong Kong!
What’s your favourite foodie destination?
One of my favourite things about travelling in Asia is the food! Particularly ramen, nasi goreng and sushi.
If you could spend a day travelling around the world for each meal (time & distance not being a barrier), where would you go for:
Breakfast: Poached eggs and avo toast in Los Angeles
Brunch: Dim sum in Hong Kong
Lunch: Katsu curry and rice in Tokyo
Dinner: Nando’s at home
Dessert: Ice cream sundae in Las Vegas