After realisation struck that life was all about their next vacation, Away Lands founders Amy Seder and Brandon Burkley decided to quit the 9-5 to adventure around the world. What began as just an idea for travel soon evolved into a new business concept – with the couple tapping into their various passions and talents to become full-time photographers and filmographers.
Hitting the road in September 2016, Amy’s previous employment as a commercial photographer and photo producer and Brandon’s background in finance combined with a passion for travel, film, and flying proved to put the two in good stead – with the duo soon notching up work with a number of top global brands including Waldorf, Ralph Lauren, and Revolve.
Taking time out from jumping out of planes, visiting ancient wonders of the world, and climbing volcanoes to take part in our latest Fast 50, here we chat to Amy about everything from being charged by bulls in Lombok to shooting 6 videos in 4 different countries in a month for Hyatt hotels.
1. Best beauty product of all time? Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink lipstick – the only one that stays on underwater and doesn’t stain everything in its path
2. Five beauty products you can’t live without? Hair extensions, a good serum, Kat Von D Tattoo liner, Hairdreams Hairfluid, red lipstick
3. Hair “done” or messy? Somewhere in the middle
4. Favourite fragrance? Marc Jacobs – Daisy
5. Favourite item of clothing? All Saints leather jacket – I splurged on it in London last winter and have been in love ever since
6. Favourite fashion brand? Chloe, Revolve, Alexander Wang, Rag and Bone, Madewell, and Miu Miu
7. Gym or exercising outdoors? Both! I love running as a way to explore new cities, but I use Classpass religiously to keep me on track when I’m home
8. Healthy eating or treating yourself? Healthy eating. I’m on the road so much where I’m eating local foods and having big dinners that I try to eat healthy whenever I’m able to be in control of my diet
9. Can you cook? I make great salads and soup, but that’s about it – Brandon is the chef of our family
10. Favourite food to indulge in? Pizza, gnocchi, or anything with chocolate
11. First thing you pick from the mini-bar? Red wine
12. Best place to eat out? In LA – the taco stand in front of Whole Foods on Lincoln, in New York – Le Barricou or Zenkichi
13. Happiest moment? Arriving in Hawaii the day we moved out of New York to start traveling full-time
14. Saddest moment? Leaving my whole life and friends in New York – and not being able to go back for every event that I would want to
15. Blog or YouTube? Blog – I love making films, but I don’t know how to work YouTube as a network
16. Iphone or camera? Camera, always
17. Type of camera? Sony A7RIII. We also shoot with a Canon 1DX, but the photo quality from the Sony is unmatchable
18. Facetune or untouched? I love Photoshop to take out exit signs, people in the background etc to make sure my photos are exactly what I want
19. Lightroom or VSCO? Neither, I’m old school and do everything in Photoshop. And I love the HUJI app for Instagram stories
20. Favourite filter? I make my own presets! Awaylandsshop.com
21. Favourite way to edit pics? My style is always evolving, but I like images that are bright and colourful. Recently I’ve been into a a bit of a muted, grainy film look but still with lots of colour
22. 9-5 job or full-time influencer? Full-time influencer/photographer for 2 years now
23. How did you first get your start in Instablogging? I was a child actor and always loved being on camera – and then I fell in love with photography in high school and just knew that was what I wanted to do. I went to school for photography and moved to New York to shoot fashion. When Brandon and I started traveling and shooting together, it all started falling into place and I feel like I made up my own dream job! At first, we just decided that we were going to travel full-time – starting our business became an idea and then a reality after we already made that decision. When we took off, I had no idea what our future was going to be, but here we are! I had been a part of blogging communities all the way back to LiveJournal days, and was always sharing my photos on one network or another – but being a blogger wasn’t a career path when I was younger like it can be now
24. How much time goes into a normal picture found on your Instagram account? A lot! I edit everything in Photoshop on my laptop, so it’s a process
25. What’s your top Instagram tip? It’s all about the photography. You have to really love creating, or you will get burned out fast. And think outside the box! It’s so easy to take the same photos as everyone else, and we all do it sometimes – but the more original you are, the more successful you will likely be
26. Who takes your pics? My boyfriend/business partner @bburkley– but I always do the photo processing and editing. He does almost all of our video editing – we divide and conquer!
27. Career highlight since being an influencer? Going on group trips and making friends all over the world. And when we got paid to go to the Maldives really early on and realised that this crazy idea was actually working
28. Career lowlight since being an influencer? Having my passport and wallet stolen in Croatia, being extorted and brought to a police station in Indonesia, having my gear seized in Italy… it’s been a wild ride!
29. Best campaign you’ve ever worked on? Our first Hyatt campaign – we shot 6 videos for hotels in 4 different countries over a month and learned so, so much
30. Worst thing that’s happened to you on a photo shoot? Brandon was almost killed by a bull in Lombok, Indonesia – the bull charged at him and his chain stopped him when he was only 3 feet away from Brandon. I have the whole thing on video and it was one of the scariest moments of my life
31. The best gift you’ve ever received as an influencer? The ability to have my absolute dream job. Physically, AllModern gave us the most beautiful live wood dining room table that makes me so happy every day I’m home
32. Last thing you googled? History of Tatamagouche – we’re currently on a road trip around Nova Scotia and discovering all of these amazing little villages
33. Favourite film? ‘Almost Famous’
34. Favourite book? ‘The Golden Compass’ trilogy, Craig Thompson’s ‘Blankets’, ‘Never Let Me Go’
35. Favourite song? An impossible question! My top all-time bands are The Velvet Underground, Okkervil River, and The Weeknd. But these days I mostly listen to Trop-house… and The Weeknd
36. Living in the city or living by the beach? I lived in NYC for 8 years and my heart is still there, but I grew up in a beach town in California – so that is in my blood. Living in Santa Monica is the perfect mix of both
37. Favourite travel destination? Tropical beaches. We’ve been to Hawaii, the Maldives, Fiji, and the Caribbean; and I’m dying to go to Tahiti, the Seychelles and Mauritius!
38. Most Instagram-worthy spot? Positano, Italy. It’s so popular, but there is just no place as photogenic
39. Top three essentials to pack when traveling? My pillow, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and a great playlist
40. Going out clubbing or quiet dinner with friends? Quiet dinner with friends. I do love dancing though!
41. Partner or single? Partner
42. Siblings? I have an older brother and sister – they’re the best!
43. What city are you currently living in? Santa Monica
44. Celebrity crush? Jon Hamm, Zac Efron, and Gal Gadot
45. Pets? Not yet, but we have a LOT of plants
46. What is your best asset? I think my adventurousness. I try to always say yes to trying new foods, experiences, and places
47. Biggest misconception about you and your job? That I’m always on vacation! I work at least twice as many hours as I did at my last full-time job
48. Top five Instagram accounts to follow? @brooklyncartoons for the laughs. Photographers I love: @haylsa, @lewis_beards, @glographics, @worduuup
49. Favourite quote you live by? My high school senior quote was: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do” – Bob Dylan. I think I’ve done a pretty good job living up to it!
50. Top career tip? Anything is possible not by wanting it, but by working for it.
All images: Amy Seder