Blurb’s Content Director Milena is always on the go, ticking places off her bucket list and returning to her favorites. One glance at her Instagram feed is enough to make anyone want to join her wherever she is. While she doesn’t consider herself a photographer, she is constantly snapping away on her phone, creating beautiful images to help her remember a place. It’s one thing for a professional photographer to inspire travel envy, but Milena shows us how to create inspiring content and capture our memories with just her iPhone. Here’s how she does it.
1. You take several trips a year. How would you explain how photography and travel work together for you?
Taking photos enables me to create a visual diary of my life. I spend so much of my days with words, that there is a freedom in photographs—especially ones I will revisit for years to come. As for travel, it is a way of life for me. From the moment I made my own money, I have gone to Europe every single year. Seeing the way other people live, what they eat, and how they enjoy their lives has inspired me to create a life of my own that sometimes looks different to the way others are living—one that is driven from a place of freedom and exploration, not security. Documenting these experiences makes them even more tangible and influential in my life.
2. What things do you love to photograph? Why?
So many things! Food, landscapes, all things colorful. I want my pictures to convey the way I feel, which is a complete and absolute appreciation for how lucky I feel to live in such a beautiful and wonderful world.
3. What kinds of photos make the best travel memories?
For me, they are the photos that showcase one thing and tell the story of many.
Seeing a book tells me a broader story of what was going on in my life at the time, and it also enables me to remember smaller moment or experiences that I may have otherwise forgotten.
4. You shoot mainly with your iPhone. What have you found works for you? What are some tips for shooting travel photos with your iPhone?
Taking photos is very in-the-moment for me. If I see something beautiful, I want to remember it and document it quickly. I am very aware that the quality of my photos would improve if I shot with better equipment, but then it would take away from the entire experience I value, which is documenting something as it is on the fly—not a staged or perfected moment.
I take landscape and square photos, giving me some flexibility to post across a range of places. Snapseed and Camera+ are good for photo editing, as well as VSCO for more arty-type (sic) filters. But the truth is, I mostly shoot and edit slightly within Instagram before posting. All this, so that at the end of the year, I can easily make a Blurb book, featuring my year in review by importing my Instagram feed.
5. How do those iPhone photos look when they’re printed?
Not as good as they look on the screen, which is a genuine concern. But I love them regardless. I would choose to stick with my enjoyment of the process of documenting, over higher-quality photos.
6. Why create a printed book when you have all those photos on your phone?
Oh wow, how could I not?! Being able to go back and look at each year is invaluable. One photo can remind me of so many moments and memories that contributed to the year. Seeing a book tells me a broader story of what was going on in my life at the time, and it also enables me to remember smaller moment or experiences that I may have otherwise forgotten.
7. What kind of travel photos work best with Layflat pages?
Great question. While I think most people value the expansive double-page spreads, I love the flexibility to work with different layouts—having some photos across the gutter and others not, all within the same spread.
8. If you could go back and tell your 5-years-ago-traveler-self some advice, what would you say? Any tips for traveling and taking more away from your experiences?
Probably the same thing I would tell myself now, and they are Anthony Bourdain’s words, not my own. “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.”
9. Where’s one place you’re dying to go?
Iceland. It is completely different from anywhere I would ever think of going. It’s a colder climate, involves driving around and exploring more, and I’m not sure the food will be a win in my books. But in the same way, I am intrigued with the Faroe Islands, the landscape just looks unbelievable.
10. What’s one project you’re dying to do?
I’d love to launch a travel magazine or guidebook series. Seeing all of these places and learning about nearby gems from locals is everything, and I want to share those insights and experiences with others.