Lulu Escapes Meets: Renee Hahnel (aka Renee Roaming)
Renee is a real source of inspiration for outdoor and nature photography. She has an impressive gallery on Instagram and a beautiful blog where she shares all of her travel and photography tips. It’s an honour to interview Renee and share with you more about her and her deep passion for the big outdoor world.
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Do you tend to go back often to your native country (Australia)?
I have only returned to Australia once since moving to the US. I am hoping to get back there later this year to see my family. I recently became an auntie for the first time and I miss my nephew SO much! FaceTime and social media definitely make it easier to live such a large distance from my family.
Are you based somewhere permanently or are you living on the road?
I was based out of Colorado up until mid 2016. Since then I have been traveling and living on the road. My husband and I are currently on a road trip to every national park in the US – all 59! Our “home” for the next 7 months is a rad VW Vanagon named “Ruby”.
What’s your favourite thing about travelling?
Experiencing the varied landscapes and cultures. Travelling to new countries is always really exciting, but I also love exploring new cities when road tripping around the US. In one day of driving we can go from land to sea, from desert to mountains – always keeping us on our toes!
What made you start your blog and what do you enjoy the most about it?
I initially started my blog to share my photography and hiking tips but it slowly morphed into a broader range of topics. Instagram is my main social media channel but it can be limiting in how much I can share with my audience. I love having my blog as a means to share more details about my travels, photography tips and new adventures.
Did you choose nature or did nature choose you?
I grew up on a farm, riding horses and playing in the dirt… so I guess nature chose me! Though I do continue to make a purposeful effort to include nature and the outdoors in my daily life.
What’s the most spectacular landscape you’ve ever seen?
Gosh, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one place. I would probably have to say the Canadian Rockies. That whole region is mind-blowingly beautiful.
What’s your favourite outdoor activity?
Hiking and backcountry camping. There is nothing quite like falling asleep to a view of the stars and waking up to insane mountain views.
Have you ever experienced a dangerous situation in the wild? If so, how did you overcome it?
When hiking in New Zealand last year, I found myself in a scary situation. I was up on a narrow ridge, with cliff drops either side and the rock was super crumbly. I felt completely stuck and had a moment of intense fear that I would fall. My husband was up ahead and luckily returned to help me get to safety. Lesson learned – don’t hike/climb out to spots that look beyond my ability!
Did you study photography or have you learnt by yourself through experience because your photos are absolutely stunning?
Thank you! My husband took up photography a few years before I did, so he has taught me a lot. The remainder I have learnt through trial and error and loads of practice!
What are your 3 tips to get the ultimate outdoor photo?
Shoot when the light is nice. Sunrise and sunset are the best time for this, when the light is softer and more golden.
Think about composition. Find a unique and interesting angle to take your photos, not necessarily the postcard shot that every tourist gets.
Use a person to show scale and to “humanize” the photo. People can relate better if they can feel like “wow, that could be me!”
What’s the ultimate dream destination on your bucket list?
I have wanted to visit Patagonia for such a long time. Mount Fitzroy, on the border of Argentina and Chile, looks absolutely incredible! I would love to head off into the wilderness and explore that entire region, particularly during autumn/fall.
Do you ever travel to big cities?
Sometimes but not too often. I much prefer smaller cities and getting out in nature.
If someone was thinking about travelling into the wild where would you suggest they go?
It would depend on their experience. National Parks are great places for people to begin their relationship with the wilderness. You will find the trails to be more established and maintained and the park rangers can give you advice about where to explore.
If you could be an animal which one would it be and why?
Probably a bird. It would be incredibly freeing to soar above the mountains and wide open ocean.
What are your travel plans for 2017?
Most of my 2017 is consumed with a 7-month road trip to all 59 US National Parks. The trip should finish up in November and afterwards I am hoping to spend a couple of weeks back in Australia visiting family. I have no idea where December will take me!